Friday, April 11, 2008

But all the European parents are doing it...

My kids have never seen me drunk.
Though they have seen me drink.

I recently came across a parenting blog that completely condemned a practice I have condoned on an infrequent basis. And I was a little miffed, frankly.

Horror of horrors...I allow my daughter sips of wine at dinner. She had a mimosa at a shower once (I made it, it wasn't very strong). My thinking is that wine, like say...brownies, is a really nice accompaniment to a good meal or a celebration. To carry on the metaphor I would stay away from eating the whole pan of brownies--it will make you sick. Enjoy the brownie but don't overindulge. If you find yourself doing or saying things you normally wouldn't when you eat brownies, then you are eating too many.

I see the point the non-sippers are trying to make. Alcoholism is dangerous and rampant among teens. You know what else is dangerous?


But as good parents, we take them out driving, don't we? We supervise them, give them advice, teach them the do's and don'ts of the road....proper car ettiquette. It isn't like we pick the magic number of 16 and hand them the keys and say--okay now you're ready since it's your birthday. I realize that you've never been behind the wheel, but you'll be fine because you are older today than you were yesterday.

My feeling is that I am not raising children, I am raising adults. I need my daughter to be ready to make informed decisions when I'm not around. By witnessing and taking part in responsible drinking behavior, I'm hoping to avoid the three a.m. cleaning up vomit on her bedroom floor ritual (I won't tell you which of my friend's did that to her mom when we were teens).

But...I understand the flip side too. I encourage her to be sexually abstinent but allow her to try my Peppermint Patty in front of the fireplace after it snows. Am I giving her mixed signals?

So what are your feelings? Am I wearing rosé-colored glasses?
(and wasn't that a cute pun?)


  1. Oooooh this is a good topic, and it's odd that I heard a discussion on this on NPR not a week or two ago! Another parent was arguing the SAME thing you just said...

    As for me, I'm not quite sure how I feel. I do love the fact that you say you're raising adults, not children--what an interesting view.

    I'll be interested in seeing what other discussions come in here!!

  2. I think you're doing the right thing by demystifying the drinking experience. I've done the same thing with my daughter. In addition to letting her see the attraction to drinking, though, I've also told her about the downside. She's never seen me drunk, but I've told her about the times I was, and the results. I think the more information we provide our kids, the better equipped they'll be to handle adulthood. And you're so right that we're not raising children here, because they won't be kids forever.

  3. I think it would be a lot different if my husband or I had drinking issues. So, I guess I can't recommend this approach to everyone, you know?

    I'd be interested to hear what some teens think of their parent's drinking habits and attitudes.

  4. You're doing the right thing. My parents have never been drunk in front of me (I'm 25 BTW) but I've always known that they drank occasionally. My mom used to let me sip some when she had wine and it never turned me into an alcoholic. Actually I think the reason that I wasn't really interested was because she let me. She didn't make a big deal out of it. I asked her for a taste and she let me have it and that was the end. There was no big mystery about it, nothing I had to go exploring to figure out for myself (and believe me they will) because I was already introduced to it. Forget what those no sippers say. Being overprotective never my opinion it hurts.

  5. My parents let us have wine with dinner when we were younger, and as a result, I never felt the need to go out and drink when I was a teenager. I was never allowed to just sit around and drink with my parents, of course, nor would they buy alcohol for me and my friends, but from about age 13 on, if I wanted a hlaf glass or so of wine (never anything but wine) with my dinner, they let me.

    In high school, when all my friends were sneaking out to go to drinking parties, I never felt the need to get drunk. Sure, I drank underage occasionally (more frequently in college than HS), but I never got drunk.

    I think the reason many teens drink to excess is because alcohol is seen as a taboo. But for me, it was never taboo, so I never bothered to abuse it. It was just something that I drank occasionally.

  6. I absolutely believe it is best to take the mystery out of alcohol.

    Education is almost never the problem. Deny something to a teen and all you manage is to make it more seductive.

  7. Alcohol isn't taboo at our house. Our kids are curious about what we drink, they take the occasional sip and go "eeewwwww!" And when we do allow them to taste, always with the caveat of "everything in moderation."

  8. Well, speaking as a teen who was allowed to sip, it worked. I have never drank anything more than a sip. i hate the taste and never went out to get drunk or even to drink.
    My parents always gave us a small sip of whatever they were drinking - probably to de-mystify - and in my case it worked.

  9. I emphatically agree with raising adults rather than children. I've been saying that for years, and wonder, in pure amazement, why other parents do or don't do certain things because "they are children". My understanding of the whole process is that they won't be forever, and my job as a loving, nurturing, responsible parent is to guide and teach for when they are not under my "control". LOL

    I see nothing wrong with allowing my children to sip wine. My daughter had a couple sips of a Smirnoff Ice last summer (I rarely drink) and still giggles over how she was "high". This is the same girl that begged me to stop smoking 8 years ago.

    I also have no problem with them swearing in a controlled environment. We (I) have the foul mouth, and we are a very goofy bunch. I tend to make up words, and sometimes there is a curse word thrown in the middle. They have recently been given permission to say those words, only in the house and not around Nana.

    I do not condone smoking or any other types of drugs however, and I'm aware of parents who feel that they'd rather have their child smoking pot at home, from their own stash, then going out and buying it and smoking it outside the home. I think, at that point, or at the point the child came into this world, that those vices should have been stopped.

  10. So does this mean I should switch the contents of my kid's sippy cup from tequila shooters to Cabernet?

  11. Maybe. You don't want to overwhelm their developing palates, Feisty. ;)

  12. I teach my kids moderation and responsibility. If I drink, I don't drive. The hubby and I always talk about who the DD is before we go out--in front of the kids. We talk about safe sex, we encourage abstinence but we also encourage them to be safe no matter what. I get so frustrated with the DARE programs that use scare tactics to teach kids Teh Buze it is teh bad! No. It's not bad. It's something for adults that can be enjoyed moderately and responsibly and sometimes even adults overindulge but as long as they are smart, then no big thing.

    I offer my kids a drink. They have no interest yet. Now, don't get me wrong, in about a year, I'll be locking up teh buze...but I don't see how drinking in front of them is a bad thing. It's not a moral issue--it's a life lesson.

  13. Well, I'm glad to know I'm not screwing up my kids too badly.

    I'd rather have them sip wine at dinner than drink pop.

  14. Kudos.

    All my friends (many of whom are European) allow their kids to have a sip of wine if they want it.

    Ironically, my friends trust me implicitly with their kids. My family... well, not all of them.

    We were at a dinner one night and one of my nieces asked what my wine tasted like. I'd spent the entire day with friends and sort of forgot-- I let her take a small sip. (She was a late tweener at the time, I believe.)

    I immediately apologized to the freaking out mother.

    She expected me to apologize another fifty seven times. (I didn't.) It resulted in a long stretch of "not speaking."

    I mean... I said I was sorry. It was automatic. And um... I didn't get the kid drunk and go to Rio.

    You are very wise, O Gwennish one.