The question of parents, children, and drinking alcohol at home is one with which parents often wrestle. Other cultures can suggest an answer, but ultimately parents must decide what’s best for their children.
Many parents intuitively recognize what has long been understood by some groups. They include Italians, Greeks, French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Jews and many others These groups drink frequently but have few alcohol-related problems. They know that drinking at home with parents is the best way to learn how to drink in moderation. And it also helps avoid alcohol-related problems. (And yes, it’s usually legal in the U.S.)
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 college,” said Sarah. “I have a son in eighth grade now and 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. It’s 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.”
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.”
Sarah shares a common misperception about alcoholic beverages. In fact, standard drinks of beer wine and spirits (liquor) have the same amount of alcohol. It’s o.6 ounce of pure alcohol. See below.
“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.”
“I’m not 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’ll be drinking somewhere, I’d rather it be at home.” She added this view.
“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.”
It’s Usually Legal
Two-thirds of states in the U.S. permit people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol under certain conditions. For example, under the supervision of their parents or guardians.
Nation-wide research has been done both the U.S. and England. It shows 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 if they’re serving in the U.S. military, or have children themselves.
Resources: Parents,Children, and Drinking Alcohol
A standard drink is a
- 12 ounce can or bottle of regular beer.
- Five ounce glass of dinner wine.
- One shot (1.5 ounce) of spirits (whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, etc.)
- Drinking with Parents is “Protective” of Alcohol Abuse.
- Parents Giving Alcoholic Drinks May Reduce Drinking-Related Problems.
- Children, Alcohol and Parenting
- Underage Drinking
- Drinking with Parents Reduces Alcohol Abuse among Teenagers.
- Legal Drinking Ages around the World – You’ll be Surprised
Gardere, J. Smart Parenting for African Americans. NY: Dafina, 2002.
Hammond, M. Decisive Parenting. Lanham, MD: Aronson, 2010.
Peele, S. Addiction Proof Your Child. NY: Three Rivers, 2007.
Wolf, A. I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Shut Up. NY: Harper, 2011.
Kaufman, S. Teen drinking graduates by grade. Myriad anti-alcohol programs available. But parents ultimately at center. Register-Mail (IL), Oct 14, 2017.
This website is informational only. Thus it makes no suggestions about parents, children, and drinking alcohol at home.