Parents, Children, and Drinking Alcohol at Home
Many parents intuitively recognize what has long been understood by Italians, Greeks, French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Jews and many others around the world -- that drinking at home with parents is the best way to learn how to drink in moderation and avoid alcohol-related problems.
Sarah, 43, considers herself a good parent and has a close bond with her two children. She says she is a strict parent, a devout Christian and allows her kids to drink alcohol in her home.
"I absolutely let my daughter drink alcohol at home when she was in high school and attending Carl Sandburg College," said Sarah. "I have a son in eighth grade now and I know when the time comes, I will do the same for him."
Sarah is not her real name. She requested her identity be hidden not because she is ashamed of her beliefs she said, but to prevent unfair judgment of her children.
"If people want to judge me, that is one thing," she said. "But I can see some teachers and parents taking it out on my son and we haven't even crossed that bridge yet."
Sarah said her oldest daughter, now 23, drank alcohol at home with friends on several occasions. "I never bought liquor for her and her friends - not once. And they never drove once they were drinking."
"Face it. We are not going to stop teens from drinking," she said. "Having a parent supervising them makes them more responsible. There are no drinking games or heavy drinking. It doesn't become a big deal."
"It isn't like I am going to say to my son, 'Why don't you invite some friends over for some beer.' But if he gets into a situation where he will be drinking somewhere, I would rather it be here at home," she said.
"I guess it probably does make drinking more acceptable and more accessible. But from what I have seen, those kids that grow up where alcohol is forbidden end up being the worst drinkers. At least when they are here, I am in control and can monitor what is going on."
Two-thirds of states in the U.S. permit people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol under certain conditions, such as under the supervision of their parents or guardians.
Nation-wide research in both the U.S. and England has demonstrated that teens who drink with their parents are less likely to experience alcohol-related problems.
Note, however, that no state permits a parent to serve alcohol to other parents' children. This is so even if the "children" are legally adults age 18, 19 or 20, or are serving in the U.S. military, or have children themselves.
- Kaufman, Susan. Teen drinking graduates by grade: Myriad anti-alcohol programs available, but parents ultimately at center. Register-Mail (IL), October 14, 2007.