Dare to Ask: OK to give your kids alcohol?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
What is the youngest age to give alcohol to your children? Is it OK if they
Baby Boomer, 45, male, Los Angeles
I can't think of a single reason why letting your kids drink is a good idea.
Dick, 42, Chicago
I offer my daughter a sip of whatever adult beverage she cares to try. She
hates most. At some point we'll let her drink until she feels "tipsy" and then
"drunk," carefully monitoring it. I want her to understand how much alcohol it
takes to get to both points, so she doesn't wind up at some party at 16 or 17
dead from alcohol poisoning.
Tim, 37, Chesterfield, Mich.
I find it hard to believe a baby boomer is asking if it's OK to contribute to
the delinquency of a minor.
Katie, 38, Los Angeles
The first time I got really buzzed was at a family reunion; I was about 13. I
went away to college much better able to handle my alcohol, know my limits, etc.
. . . I think the European model is much better than the American one in this
Dave, 35, New Orleans
I wouldn't give alcohol to your children until you're at least 46, Baby
Rich, 23, Michigan
Between the ages of 5 and 12, my grandmother used to give us kids a hot toddy
made from moonshine when we were sick. Talk about toasted! But when I woke up
the next morning, I had nary a sniffle.
Monika, 26, Houston
People who say never let them before 21 are giving rebellious teens a reason
Jami, 19, Pullman, Wash.
Let them get drunk? That's a form of child abuse.
Christine, 27, Minneapolis
Isn't this a moot point? These 1-year-olds are already poop-faced to begin
with, wobbling all over the place, barely able to stammer out "ba-ba" for
"bottle." It's epidemic.
But, for kicks, we talked to David Rosenbloom, director of the Youth Alcohol
Prevention Center at Boston University's School of Public Health.
Some studies suggest - but not strongly - that "in some families, where
there's a lot of family time and drinking wine with dinner is seen as a special
occasion . . . the kids may be less likely to engage in early problematic
drinking," he said.
But, we're talking about context and culture: having a "taste" of wine, in a
setting where the practice may have been done for generations.
"Parents who provide beer or spirits under what they believe are controlled
circumstances are kidding themselves that they are teaching responsible
drinking," he said. "I've seen multiple cases in which parents think they can
control a situation by inviting the kids in and taking the car keys away, and
then having horror stories."
"This business about 'training' people to drink is horse --. They are
teaching them it's perfectly fine to drink without respect to the law or their
ability to absorb it."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
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