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The GEM Debate: Would You Let You Kids Drink In Your Home?



Okay we’re about to wade into a prickly debate here on Good Enough Mother.

A new study shows that more than 700,000 children aged between 12 and 14 are drinking alcohol and nearly a quarter of them are getting it from a parent or other close adult in their life!

Before I was a parent, I heard about this happening, and the reason given by many parents is along the lines of, “well, I’d rather they drink here at home where I know where they are instead of out on the streets.”  Oh, brother!

Okay, first of underage drinking is against the law, let’s start there. You, being the cool parent you are, allow your kid to host a party and alcohol is served. If the party gets busted because kids are lying out in your yard, puking their guys out, guess who gets hauled off in cuffs? But there are also addiction issues as well. As this study points out, children who drink early are more likely to develop problems with alcohol than those who do not.

Look, I am not naive but I think communication is key. How about drawing the line in the sand and explaining that you and your family will follow the law and you will not support underage drinking. How about following through on steep consequences if your child does? I don’t know… Maybe I’m crazy!

So here’s today’s GEM Debate… would you allow your teenager to drink in your home?

What are your rules when it comes to giving alcohol to your kids? And at what age do you think kids should be able to drink?

Start commenting everyone!


  1. Sharon

    February 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Rene-
    You know, I grew up in the midwest….. and in the early 1980’s, I had some friends whose parents allowed us to drink in their home…. because their thinking did go along the lines of “keeping us safe” and “not out in cars drinking and driving”….. and I do remember as a teenager feeling safe there at one of these homes, finding out what this drinking-thing was all about.

    But now as a parent…. I think… WHAT? There is NO WAY I will allow this to happen in my home…… I am even somewhat uncomfortable enjoying a glass of wine in my home (notice I said somewhat….) because I think about the positive message I am conveying about alcohol by drinking it in their presence….. I think about the message being “do as I say, not as I do”….. so I haven’t quite figured that one out yet!

    I just discovered your blog, and I am loving it! I too am a blogger, just around the corner from you- in Bedford….


  2. PiecesOfEight

    February 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 states that revenue will be withheld from states that allow the purchase of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. Prior to the effective date of that Act, the drinking age varied from state to state. Some states do not allow those under the legal drinking age to be present in liquor stores or in bars (usually, the difference between a bar and a restaurant is whether food is being served). Contrary to popular belief, since the act went into law, few states specifically prohibit minors and young adults from consuming alcohol in private settings. As of January 1, 2010, 15 states and the District of Columbia ban underage consumption outright, 17 states do not specifically ban underage consumption, and the remaining 18 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage consumption laws.

    Federal law explicitly provides for religious, medical, employment and private club possession exceptions; as of 2005, 31 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage possession laws. However, non-alcoholic beer in many (but not all) states, such as Idaho, Texas, and Maryland, is considered legal for minors (those under the age of 21).[14]

    By a judge’s ruling, South Carolina appears to allow the possession and consumption of alcohol by those 18 to 20 years of age,[15] though a circuit court judge said otherwise.


    So in many states its perfectly legal to drink in your private home with your parents present. However its not legal to serve other children that are not yours, alcohol.

  3. Mim

    February 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    A parent saying, ‘well, I’d rather they drink here at home where I know where they are instead of out on the streets.” It against the law to buy/drink alcohol if you are under 21. What if he/she wanted to have sex with girlfriend/boyfriend? Would the parent agree to that?

  4. Mia

    February 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I don’t believe in serving alcohol to other people minors, but I did allow my son who was in the military to drink prior to 21. I feel if you can die for this country you can have a beer. I personally don’t agree with te drinking age. I think 18 should be the age.

  5. dianthe

    February 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    when i was in high school, i had several friends whose “cool” parents allowed us to hang out at their house and drink – they didn’t actually provide us with the alcohol, but they didn’t mind us bringing it into their home

    my parents allowed us (and i mean my siblings and i) to occasionally have a small glass of wine on holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving) – but that was it – and it wasn’t until our junior or senior year in high school – they certainly weren’t allowing us to throw back margaritas at family gatherings – and while my mother knew that we were drinking once we had left for college, she made it very clear that she disapproved of us drinking and that it was still illegal until we turned 21

    that said, i may allow my kids the occasional sip as my parents did but they certainly won’t be allowed to hang out and drink on the weekends – i also intend to show them what responsible drinking looks like and have constant discussions about the dangers of drinking before you’re of age

    i do have issues with the drinking age being 18 – while i understand the reasoning (the brain not being fully mature, etc.), i think it’s completely hypocritical that you can live on your own, vote, get married, fight for your country, etc. but not be allowed to drink – in my opinion, the age of consent should be universal for all things

  6. DawnKA

    February 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Ummm, NO!!!

  7. The Broke Socialite

    February 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    We did/do not allow the consumption of alcohol in our home by anyone who isn’t old enough to drink.

    There is a case going on here in the Atlanta area right now that is heartbreaking. Three or four teenagers and one adult were in a tragic car accident last Saturday that involved alcohol. One teenager died, the teen-aged driver is in jail, the remaining teenagers had serious injuries and the 21 year old adult? Fled from the scene (they caught his behind today)….

    As this story unravels, the owner of the package store, the parents (two sets) who looked the other way whilst the drinking was going on in their homes and another parent who tried to hide his kid have ALL been arrested. All because of what amounts to 2 cases of beer.

    I forward stories like this directly to our 18 year old son. I can not control what he does but he knows our position and that we do not endorse ANY illegal activities. I’m not naive enough to believe that maybe he has not taken a swig but he hasn’t done it in this house. Plus..I’m too cute for jail.

  8. Rene Syler

    February 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    @The Broke Socialite: That is tragic. Yes I think parents use that excuse but I believe they also want to be seen as “cool” instead of being parents and putting the hammer down when need be. Ditto in Too Cute for Jail!

  9. Auntie Lisa

    February 24, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    My parents served us small amounts of wine (maybe an ounce or two of a sweet rose’) with dinner when we were kids. I guess their thinking was that if they denied us even a taste, we’d go crazy once we hit 21. But serving it to us in small amounts, they were teaching a lifestyle of moderation and removing the “forbidden fruit” aspect.

    Now, drinking parties and unlimited access… totally different thing!

  10. Jacki Marie

    February 24, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I’ve talked to my kids about all this… No, I would not allow them to drink at my house because I don’t drink at my house (or anywhere). First because it’s illegal and I don’t want them thinking they can pick and choose which laws to obey. The second reason is I don’t drink at all because I come from a family where alcohol has reeked havoc. I’ve seen too many lives destroyed by alcohol and starting at a young age only increases the chance for dependency. I know I have a personality that leans towards addictive behavior so I haven’t had alcohol in almost 30 years. 30 years ago it was legal for me to drink at 18 and I found myself comforting myself with wine instead of hanging out with other teenagers. When I realized that what I was doing wasn’t social drinking I stopped completely. I don’t know for sure what choices they will make once they are of age but I’m not giving it to them. BTW I was allowed to drink at home as a teen– a little here and there and I was already leaning towards alcoholism before I hit 20. Hmmm… so NO.

  11. M.E. Johnson

    February 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    No. Not legal, not safe, not healthy.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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