Are you one of those parents who would offer your kids sips of alcohol at home? Here’s why that might not be such a good idea.
But wait! Before you answer, hear me out.
Remember when I did Anderson Cooper’s daytime show a few months ago? The topic was about parents who let their underage children drink at home and centered on the so-called “social host” law. On this particular show, two couples were facing some very serious charges after they let their kids host parties where they allowed, not only their kids to drink, but their friends too.
I was on the couch with CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and we were taking an admittedly hardline stance on kids and alcohol, given myriad studies that show its adverse effects on young people. Neither Sunny nor I was saying kids were not going to try alcohol; studies show roughly 80% of high-schoolers have. The point we were trying to make was that parents needed to be more firm in their response to teen drinking. We took a lot of heat for that (go here and see the comment from the nice young man who dug deep into his bag of dirty words to use some choice ones to describe me. Prepare for your eyes to burn. Seriously.) but now it appears our gut reaction may have been correct.
There’s a new study out that shows parents who offer kids sips of alcohol at home may actually be doing more harm than good. Of the 1,000 parents surveyed, 40% of them thought that forbidding alcohol would make their kids want it more; 1 in 5 thought exposing them at home would keep them from succumbing to peer pressure to binge drink.
The problem is the facts don’t match that thinking. Researchers found that offering kids sips of alcohol at home did not keep them from drinking to excess because they didn’t act the same way around friends who are drinking as they did around their parents. Another sobering (no pun intended) study showed that kids who were offered sips of alcohol at home in the 5th grade were twice as likely to report using it in the 7th grade. Whoa.
Those of you who know me and the site know how I feel about this; I am trying to make sure my kids are happy, healthy and loved as I prepare them for life outside my front door. I am a parent, not a pal and that means enforcing, what are sometimes unpopular, rules. Given what I know about alcohol and its effects on children, I’m going to follow my gut and the advice of Ralph Hingson, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research and try to delay their exposure for as long as possible.
In the meantime, looking for a way to break the ice with your kids? The Partnership for A Drug Free America suggests being open-minded and asking generic questions like, “Do you know anyone who drinks? and “How do you feel about that?”
Okay so, we want to hear from you.
Parents Would You Offer Your Kids Sips Of Alcohol At Home?