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At what age would you allow your child to try alcohol?

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 

My neighbour had a party the other night and her she allowed her 12 year old son to have alcoholic cocktails and a a vodka jelly (he has ADHD as well).


This family is far from the best family, I have given up with SS etc. It seems there is noting I can do to help them. I am just so angry about the whole thing. I think the worst thing is, this didn't seem like it was an unusual thing for him to get at one of his mums parties.

post #2 of 90

OMG. That is terrible.


post #3 of 90

Funny, I just had this conversation with dd in the car. She was talking about getting older, and said "and when I'm 21, I can drink beer." I replied, "Well, when you're about 17 or 18, I'll let you have a sip of wine or beer so you can know what it's like." She answered, "No, I think I'll wait until I'm 21."


I think that small amounts of wine with dinner at age 17 or 18 is fine. I might even go down to 16. French kids grow up drinking wine. German kids are able to drink beer at 16 (or is it 14, I forget). But, they're not allowed to drive until they're 18. So, they've got a couple of years to figure out that getting falling down drunk isn't all that much fun, and there's less temptation to drink and drive. I won't serve my kids a lot of alcohol, but 1/2 a glass of wine with Christmas dinner? Yes. I don't want my kids to have their first experience with alcohol at some party where they have less control over the situation and more pressure to drink too much.


But a 12 year old getting cocktails? And vodka shots? No. She's setting that kid up to be an alcoholic.

post #4 of 90
All my kids had tasted alcohol by the time they were 12. None had had a drink of their own yet. My oldest two at 15 and almost 18 will occasionally share a 12 oz hard lemonade with me. I think it's a cultural thing that it's not a huge deal. And we (dh and I) drink in moderation. And my kids know that if I ever found out that they were out drinking with friends there would be a long talk to be had.
post #5 of 90

I will "allow" my kids to try alcohol when they are 21 winky.gif

post #6 of 90

My sons are 19 and 16. My 19yo has never tried alcohol, by choice. He's simply not interested. He has smoked pot once or twice, though.


DS2 has sipped on beer and wine occasionally since he was about 14. He's a foodie and is interested in the way wine pairs with meals. I'm okay with it. AFAIK, he hasn't been drinking with friends. The friends of his who DO partake in mind-altering substances are potheads, not drinkers. Probably about 50% of his friends smoke weed and the other 50% are straight.


I would not, however, hand him a full martini or Jello shots. The most he's ever had is probably 2-3 oz. of wine at one sitting.

post #7 of 90

I'm not sure.  I might allow an older child (like 13 or 14) to try a sip of wine or beer that was mine, but I wouldn't allow them to have a cocktail or a full glass with me until they're 21.  I'd be careful though.  My body cannot process alcohol very well due to an enzyme deficiency (alcohol flush reaction), so it's actually physically uncomfortable for me (painful skin flush, headache, nausea).  Since it also increases certain cancer risks with exposure to alcohol, I don't feel comfortable allowing my kids a lot of exposure while they're young.  We'll talk to them about it.


I'd be tempted to at least test it before they went to college so that they would KNOW if they have this deficiency or not so they could make an informed decision about alcohol use, but I don't know.  It might depend on the kid, even.

post #8 of 90

My kids are Catholic and so they'll have wine at communion starting towards the end of 2nd grade.  My 7 year old has had a teeny tiny sip of beer once.  DH was drinking a beer and he wanted to know what it tasted like.  We're not big drinkers here (DH will have an occassional like once a month beer, if that and I might have a glass of sangria a couple times a year)...but I don't want him thinking it's forbidden fruit.  So, DH let him have a tiny sip and then we had a talk about how you need to be 21 to legally drink more than just a sip.  Here in Ohio, it is actually legal for a parent to allow a child to drink at home or in a restaurant, so we didn't break the law ( :lol: ) and the sip was smaller than one would have of communion wine.  No way would I allow them to try a shot or a cocktail though...not until they were closer to senior in high school or something.

post #9 of 90

I admit I've let Dd have a couple sips (and they were just that, a couple sips) of wine, she was curious about it. She didn't like it, but she was satisfied that she got to try it and has not asked since. We talked about it frankly, the effects of alcohol and why by law, only adults are allowed to drink it. She's little, of course, so it was in a way she understands, but it was a good lead in to a good discussion that I think with kids today, needs to start early. If I don't talk to her about it, I can be sure her peers will, even as a homeschooler, and I'd rather it be my version of what's okay and reasonable about alcohol that she hears first than a friend or someone from my dad's side.


I've been drinking wine occasionally since I was a kid myself. No drinking to drink or to get drunk, like wine with a really nice meal, once or twice a month. It remains that way today, just a treat with a nice dinner. There's a line between giving your kids alcohol as just a taste and giving your kids alcohol to drink to get drunk, just like there is drinking yourself. I think making it this big forbidden thing might be counterproductive, it just makes it that much more attractive so that when they can get it, whether that's at 12, 15, 18, or 21, they run the risk of going overboard on the forbidden fruit. But obviously giving a 12 year old jello shots isn't the way to go either.


A few sips here and there, with some good discussions and openness, can be a little leeway that prevents a lot of problems later.

Edited by IrishWristwatch - 12/28/12 at 2:58pm
post #10 of 90
Thread Starter 

Do you have WKD (5.5% alc) over in the USA? Thats wht he wanted first of all but because they weren't his mums she said he had to ask the person whos drink it was for one of those. In the mean time, he could have a cocktail (alcoholic) then the vodka jelly. He probably got slipped some more as well and in the morning, it was the kids clearing up the tinnies etc and you can guess what he was doing (they had been up most of the night at their mums birthday party, although this isn't unusual, those kids get so little sleep, the mum kept her eldest daughter home from school to help her prepare for the party).


I was shocked...........


My parents would let us have a tiny biottle of beer at christmas/bonfire night from early teens, but it was literally just that and I do kinda believe in introducing your kids to alcohol within the family home in a safe surrounding while learning about alcohol etc. But what this kid was drinking just seemed way over the top to me.



I just feel so bad for the kids, its been 3 years of listening to hell next door and then this on top of it, it just drives me nuts.

post #11 of 90
Thread Starter 

Just to add as well, I don't believe I am the perfect parent, DH and I have numerous issues and we do have family workers and hopefully, someone coming in to help us get the kids to school in the mornings, but this is due to health. I guess different cultures etc is fair enough but she isn't from a different culture, but then, she drinks and smokes throughout pregnancy as well (I am nt talking about the odd fag or the odd drink, more like binge drinking etc, she had a party before a c-section a couple of years back and was drunk...........). I call SS though and nothing gets done because the kids are clothed, clean and fed.................

post #12 of 90

Note: In Australia the drinking age is 18 and teen drinking is less of a problem.


Anyway, I suppose my 13 year old DSD would be allowed to have a couple sips of something alcoholic...never a glass or anything, though! And she's a sworn teeto, like me, lol. I would never let a 12yo kid have vodka jellies-that's just a bad idea. Especially if the kid has ADHD. And if DSD did want alcohol, then I'd talk to her about drinking in moderation and how it can damage your brain while it's still going.


My DD1 and DD2, who are 7 and 5 respectively? Not at all.

post #13 of 90

Cocktails and shots?  That just seems irresponsible.  Beer or wine?  Probably when she's about 13 or 14 if she chooses to.  Dh isn't American and we travel abroad a lot, so we'll regularly be in countries where the age is lower than in the US.  I don't have a problem with a 16 year old enjoying a glass of wine with a meal.  Much of the rest of the world thinks the same.  Also, dd plans to do an exchange program, will probably spend some summers with dh's family, so she'll be exposed to it a lot (legally) at a younger age than in the US.  We'll let her have her first tastes here at home with us before that happens.


Dh and I drink wine weekly.  We actually have a small collection in the cellar (less than 3 dozen, probably) and enjoy pairing wines with the meals I make on the weekends.  Dd is used to seeing us have a drink responsibly and as an accent to a meal.  She doesn't see us sitting around just drinking by itself and we've never been drunk.  At this point, she doesn't like the smell of it, though, so she may never try it and that's fine too.


ETA:  It seems to make sense, to me, to have the drinking age lower than the driving age.  Learning to responsibly have a drink with a meal before having access to a deadly weapon (which is what a car can be) seems more logical than the other way around.  I wonder why there is such a discrepancy in the US.

Edited by velochic - 9/19/11 at 6:58am
post #14 of 90

My sons have had 1 oz glasses of wine with dinner about every 3 months since they were 8 or 9.  My older ds (11) has had a sip of a hard lemonade I was drinking.  Other than that occasional wine with dinner, I've never given them alcoholic drinks.

post #15 of 90
A sip if they're ccurious about the taste - whenever they ask. Their own drink, as in the OP? 21.
post #16 of 90

shrug.gif  When I was studying and working at universities, the professors tended to come from families where kids were allowed to try alcohol (and tended to allow their kids to have a bit of alcohol too), and the students being carted away by ambulance for acohol poisoning tended to come from families that were strictly opposed to underage drinking.  I also knew a couple people in highschool who did a lot of binge drinking when they were underage, then stopped when they turned 19 and it was no longer forbidden (I'm in Canada, and these particular students were in highschool a bit longer than most).  Yes, it's anecdata, but it has definitely influenced my feelings on the matter.  I don't have any magic age in mind when it's suddenly okay to let kids try alcohol, but I do feel more comfortable with a gradual introduction to moderate drinking (if the kid is interested), with lots of open discussion, under parental supervision than I do with a complete ban followed by unrestricted access.


post #17 of 90

Because I know how it makes me feel, I wouldn't offer it.  If they were interested in trying it, then yes and I don't really think the age matters.  Most kids are about taste and I don't know many that want my dark lager.  My sister stayed with us one Summer when she was 16 and begged me to buy her beer.  I refused but my husband let her have one of mine from the fridge while I was out with my friend home from Afghanistan.  At first I was pretty mad since it was against what I had already decided.  However, the next morning we talked about and I really let her know why I had been against it.  She's little I mean at that time she was maybe 5 ft and she weighed 90 lbs soaking wet.  How do I know how it's going to effect her?  I certainly didn't want her feeling sick.  I hate that feeling.  Also she was technically drinking alone.  DH hates alcohol and he was busy taking care of never slept DD1.  So nobody was with her and that really bothered me. 


When my girls want to try it, it'll be a social event, like DH the girls and I sitting on the back porch grilling and talking.  Definitely listening to music and enjoying the night air.  There will be no getting drunk. 

post #18 of 90

I let my 15 yr old have one (as in a glass) of whatever I am having if he wants it.  If it is a cooler he usually does - if it is wine he passes. This happens perhaps once a month.  No one in our family likes beer.  He only started this in the last 6 months.  


I model moderation, and I think allowing him to drink in real moderation (in a social context and with food)  is fine.


In general I think the "you cannot have a drop til you are 18 or 21 and then do what you want" is not responsible.  You know - your first exposure to  a drink shouldn't be at a frat party.  winky.gif  I think trying it out before hand in the midst of people (your family - assuming they practice moderation) who can offer verbal and non-verbal feedback on consumption is the way to go.  


post #19 of 90


My teens tasted alcohol before age 12 - sips of champagne at New Year's, a little taste of wine with dinner, etc. We don't drink much here, and even less in the past year or so. We once enjoyed a bottle of wine with dinner a couple of times per month, and a case of beer lasted more than a month. It might take us a year or more to finish a bottle of hard liquor (except Scotch - DH enjoys a nice single malt). These days, I can't remember the last time I opened wine for dinner and we've had the same case of beer in the pantry all summer. 


The legal age for purchasing alcohol is 19. Alcohol can be consumed at home though. DS is 18. Until recently, he was completely straight edge.  For years, his garage band played gigs in bars and he could have been served since he looks old enough, but he wasn't interested. He surprised us a little this summer, when he told us that he has the occasional beer with his friends, some of whom are over 19. Since then, he'll have a beer at home once a week or so. DD is 15 and asks for wine if we are having some. I'll let her have an ounce or so in a glass. 


BTW, someone upthread mentioned that there wasn't a teen drinking problem in Australia. I'm pretty sure I could easily dig up a bunch of news articles about problem binge drinking in Sydney and Melbourne and concerns about the alcohol culture there, with a focus on teens.  It's just as much a problem as in North America. ETA: Here's one.

post #20 of 90

In our province, drinking age is 19 (and some of the rest of Canada 18).  I personally was allowed a glass of wine or beer at the table on special occasions from about age 13.  Because it was social and part of dinner, it seemed to encourage responsible habits.  I still have a glass of wine a few days a week (often my own, and my parents also make their own), but never really felt inclined to over indulge with the exception of a couple of university parties.  The first time my husband ever drank a lot was with his own mother at around 17 or so.  His parents hosted a big neighbourhood going away party because his dad was being deployed to Manitoba.  All the teenagers were allowed to drink there, but no one did to the point of illness, not with their own parents at the party, too!  I probably wouldn't go as far as his parents in actually hosting a party with teenage drinking, that's quite outside my comfort zone as I wouldn't want to be responsible for adverse reactions, even with their parents present, but I do think that in context to the situation what his parents did was understandable.  Personally, I'll probably go the way my parents did and allow some wine at table for special occasions.  My 11 year old sometimes tries a couple of sips after we open a bottle we made.  He grows jelly grapes and he's toying with wine grapes (odd kid, allowances always go on grape or berry plants and ducks), so he wants to know what the different grape varieties taste like.

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