Eric Asimov, the NYTimes wine guy, wrote a thoughtful piece today about the issue of introducing teenagers to wine.  It’s a subject that’s on my mind because my 12-year-old has just begun to become interested in ambitious restaurant food (she ate foie the other night, to my surprise, and everything else we tried, beef cheek and rare duck and snapper, with great enthusiasm), and along with it she loves to try the wines we drink.  Donna and I debate the ramifications of this choice.  I grew up in a family where at special meals and holidays I was offered a glass of wine.  I think it’s important that alcohol is not mysterious or a taboo to break once alcohol does become available to her (as it surely will and very soon), but rather something to be enjoyed thoughtfully and responsibly.  How can you learn this if it’s prohibited?  I’m all too aware of the real and potentially deadly affects of addiction and bingeing but I’m a Francophile with respect to kids and wine. I’m guessing that parents who read this blog love food and cooking and wines and suspect you feel the way I do but I don’t know—would love to hear from anyone with a good rationale for prohibiting young teenagers from sharing a glass of wine with good food at the table.

A story last week by Kim Severson feels related in a way, the dangers of indulgence (and Bruni blogged about it).  Severson writes about some prominent fatsos in the blogosphere who are getting their comeuppance for eating too much and grappling with serious health issues.  But once again, the blame is put on eating fat, and I’d like to reiterate what I said in an earlier post: we need to distinguish between being fat, and eating it.  They are too different things.  Fat doesn’t make us fat.  Eating too much makes us fat.  Eating too much of anything I think is bad for you, especially fat, but fat unfairly gets a bad rap.  Happily there’s a book coming out this fall that I’ve just read the galleys of and gleefully blurbed.  Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan (a Canadian whose last book won a Beard Award over my beloved Charcuterie), from the forward thinking Ten Speed Press. Wish I’d thought of this idea!

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78 Wonderful responses to “Introducing Teens to Wine”

  • artnlit

    Interesting dilemma, Michael. Perhaps the question is how often is the wine served? If offered occasionally, enhanced by education, as well as the obligatory explanation that tasting wine is NOT “drinking” in the partying sense, I don’t view it as a problem. However, I am sure there are parents out there who may disagree. ~artnlit (Bonnie)

  • evil chef mom

    I don’t mind letting my children taste wine at dinner. Normally they only want a sip or two and then they are done. I had wine forced on me as a child as in ‘you can’t leave the table until you finish that glass of wine because it’s expensive.’ and no, it wasn’t watered down. I hated it and sat at the table for a long time that Christmas night. I still don’t drink wine, I use it to cook but that’s all. I know I have an extreme example.

  • Wes

    The article does point out that most laws prohibit drinking in a restaurant or bar, but it does not regulate what happens in the home. As a child I was regularly given sips of not too cold Miller Genuine Draft from my fathers can, which served mostly as a deterrent to beer drinking. His rule was that we could have a beer or two in our barn after we turned 18, as long as we didn’t leave the house, and friends were never permitted to come over and drink. The main point was to never over indulge, something most people cannot handle.

  • kristin

    I agree with Bonnie.It is one thing to let your daughter try wine on a special occasion versus sponsoring a kids party where alcohol is being served. I don’t see the problem with letting her taste it on special occasions. I know friends in Europe who had wine when they were children, although it was watered down and don’t we rub whiskey on the gums of babies when they are teething sometimes? Taking away the mystery of it now could be better in the long run because your daughter would 1. be able to say “yeah I tried that and no I don’t like it or yeah I do.And 2. you and your wife are letting her try it on special occasions and she will no doubt associate having a taste of wine with those occasions like you do Michael. You aren’t turning her into an alcoholic. :)

  • Malcolm

    Both my wife and me were allowed sips and tastes of wine and even beer at the table, with our parents before we reached the legal age (which is 18 or 19 in Canada, depending on which province). This did not stop us from consuming large amounts of alcohol in less than fully responsible ways once we hit College. But I don’t think it caused it either. When our kids get older, we’ll probably do what most of our bourgeois friends and downtown Toronto neighbors will do and muddle through some system of giving out tastes without intoxicating our kids. We’ll worry about it a little bit, but not too much.

    Jennifer McLagan’s Fat book looks fantastic. Jennifer (who I count as a friend) recently called in to a Toronto morning radio show after the host made disparaging remarks about lard. She managed to get herself on air and proceeded to politely correct and chew him out for misinforming the public. It was the best food content I’ve heard broadcast before 8 AM ever. Can’t wait to read it.

  • Kathryn

    raised in Montreal by parents who fell in love with Paris early on and brought a very Parisian lifestyle to an otherwise very anglophone home, I was able to distinguish bottle shapes by a very young age (Bordeaux vs Burgundy) – either my siser or I was dispatched to the “cellar” on a nightly basis to fetch the wine for dinner

    wine and beer were never forbidden and we were taught to drink responsibly and that getting drunk was NOT the desirable outcome (this is, of course, not to say that I didn’t have more than one encounter with that evil, evil being that is tequila …)

    then I went to high school in very Puratanical Boston and the atitude was very different and, I think, encouraged binge drinking and the joy of “getting away with something”

  • Charlotte

    We were offered wine on special occasions by our parents once we were in our teens and kind of interested. But we also grew up in a house with dinner at the table and where learning proper dinner manners (including an obligation to make interesting conversation) were a very big deal. So learning to enjoy a glass of wine like a grownup was part of the deal. And like hte poster above — it didn’t deter us from being idiots in college, but that was more about everyone being idiots. Among my friends, we give sips to the kids once in a while, especially if there’s a really great bottle — because just as we want them to know what great food tastes like, we want them to know what a great wine tastes like.
    I think if you’re worried about addiction, that’s a different issue. I come from a family that’s riddled with drunks, and as such, I’d rather see early, and at my table, whether any of the kids react to the intoxicant more than to the taste. We have one we’ve got our eye on since she’s showing signs of liking any mind-altering substance (cough syrup for example) a little too much. So that’s the kid we’ll have the talk with about genetic predisposition, and hope that with diligence and oversight we can keep her out of the weeds. But I don’t think that making any substance forbidden (and thus desireable) is going to stave off a truly addictive personality/genetic predisposition.

  • David Barto

    When I got started drinking, it was my parents that told me about it, introduced me to it, and made sure that I started drinking only at home.

    They taught me about moderation (soon to be ignored in college), and why you shouldn’t drink at all.

    And then stood back to let me make my own choices.

    Overall it has worked out OK. I now have a modest (but growing) collection of wine, and the knowledge of when to drink and when not to.

  • Alyce Smythee

    While sips can provide a positive attitude towards wine and food, I don’t agree that exposure, or lack thereof, are what leads to binging.

    Being knowledgeable and mature about alcohol does not mean you won’t binge. As an adult, I still get the urge to now and then. It’s just that as a kid, you get that urge more often, and you have the added pressure of seeing your friends have drunken fun.

    The glass of wine at dinner doesn’t make that happen. The environment, peer pressure, desire for adventure and something new and wild, and even more, the desire to bond is what makes kids binge.

    As a teen, the best lessons in responsibility weren’t taught to me by my father, who was super-strict about abiding alcohol laws, but by the talks about responsibility and drunk driving realities that I went to. (Pictures of drunk driving accidents, the realities of irresponsibility.) It taught me to gauge my situation before drinking: when cars were present and it seemed like things could get out of control, I’d stay sober. When we were all in a house, with only our feet to get us into trouble, I’d let loose.

    I think it’s going to happen either way. What matters most is how much you drill some sense into your kids so that no matter how drunk they are, they’ve got that lesson of responsibility at the forefront of their mind, and don’t just mess up and blame the alcohol.

  • Andrew

    My parents were (and remain) totally opposed to alcohol consumption, with some good reason (alcoholism on my mother’s side). I engaged in a fair bit of underage binge-drinking, and although it is impossible to say for sure, I think that the notion of alcohol as forbidden and wrong had something to do with it.

    Now I guess the tables are turned; I’m a parent, but I also have a fondness for good beer. Since my sons are so young (3 and 4), they obviously don’t consume any alcohol, but they do see me enjoying beer with dinner in a responsible way. When they get older (teens), I will allow them to try beer, educating them on the amazing world of these beverages, but also (hopefully) instilling them with a sense of responsibility. Kids will probably experiment regardless of what the parent does, but I think de-mystifying alcohol while emphasizing responsibility should go a long way.

  • e. nassar

    I feel the same as you do Michael. My oldest is still way too young (5) to actually enjoy a small portion of wine but I make it a point of telling him what we are eating or drinking. He can distinguish between beer and wine by look, and knows that this is not for him to drink at this age. When he is older though, I’ll happily let him share a bit of either on occasion. Making something Taboo only enhances our natural curiosity. Depending on their age, I believe we should educate our children about everything.

  • The Foodist

    I think theres a difference in a child who wants to drink wine because its taboo or just for the fact that its alchohol and a child who wants to learn.

    Given the situation with your daughter I would think its the learning experience shes interested in. But either way I agree with the statement “How can they learn if its forebidden”.

    Tell a young teenager “No” will only make them want it more, teach them moderation and an understanding and I think its better for development.

    either way the day comes when my son asks me for a glass of wine with dinner, ill pour him a taste and discuss the wine with him… all in all it comes down to parenting.

  • The Yummy Mummy Cooks Gourmet

    We have this very interesting situation at my house – the neighbors on our floor are a bunch of foodies, professional cooks and a couple food bloggers and we all get together 3 or 4 times a week and have these communal dinners where we share plates and try new dishes and techniques.

    (As if we don’t see each other enough, we also sometimes get together for lunch – I ghostwrite books, so I’m home during the day supposedly working – I suppose this is overkill, but who wants to turn away lunch?)

    Anyway, it’s all a blast and the kids (ours and the neighbors) are all involved in it – the cooking, the eating, the fun, the whole bit. Admittedly, it’s always a bit of a circus around here…

    But this means wine is a huge part of our lives and people with bottles are constantly showing up at our door step, not to mention our own wine deliveries. My kids are little (3 and 1 1/2) but they will grow up with a lot more alcohol around than I ever knew as a kid. It won’t be long before they want to try it and they won’t be teenagers when it happens.

    I don’t have any answers, but I guess I know them and I’ll know when they’re ready and we’ll hopefully give them a good foundation for enjoying wine, food, friends and being responsible.

    That said, I’m thrilled to hear about your adventurous 12 year old, Michael. It’s great to know the stuff you do, the things that are important to you, really do rub off on them!

    Kim

  • Tamidon

    I try to get my 13y.o. to try the wines with meals and she thinks it’s nasty and won’t taste it. I feel conflicted, a kid who eats brussel sprouts,sushi and yogurt, and I’m trying to push the alcohol.

  • stephanie

    I agree that this is an interesting situation and the article you linked really covers all the key points. I suspect that you have already decided how you will handle it for your 12 yr old as well. Addressing the topic of drinking with your child is key. I often had sips of alcohol as a child and never really liked the taste. But never talking about appropriate drinking with my parents opened me up to binge drinking. I had to figure it all out myself the hard way. I think it’s great that your daughter is interested in trying new foods and the wines you have with them. A sip of wine with food from time to time allows her to develop her palate and share your appreciation of fine food. Understanding what happens when you drink and being with adults who *always* behave responsibly when they drink takes a lot of the glamour out of drinking for a teenager. You laying down the rules of drinking as well as enforcing them, if needed, is required. Some kids don’t push the boundaries parents set and others knock through them constantly. If your child can’t be responsible in other areas of their life, allowing them to drink would be irresponsible. So you really need to know your own child to make the right decision. Good Luck!

  • Techie

    My personal experience was Mimosas at Christmas, New Years and Easter. My parents never drank much wine. Now that I’m doing a lot more cooking, I find that I have a non-trivial amount of wine around the house, and I don’t see that changing even after I have kids.

    I can only hope that I can introduce it to any future children to responsible enjoyment.

  • Natalie Sztern

    In Quebec the legal age to drink is 18, so we just lock the liquor cabinets up at an earlier age…and I happen to believe in the European method of allowing wine with dinner if my teen is eating with us and it is not an every day supper, however, even that glass has a limit..but whenever you put a limit of any kind on a kid the goal for them becomes to bust that limit now matter whether it be wine or a drivers liscense or a home party…. but what I don’t comprehend is how a country can send its kids to war at 17 with parental consent but they can’t have a beer till they are 21

  • Thomas

    Growing up near Toronto, my parents never made much of a stigma around alcohol- weekend dinners (always with the whole family) were accompanied by wine, and as young as 8 or 9 I was allowed sips, progressing into the quarter or half-glass by 11 and 12, on to one full glass with dinner by my early teens. My dad would often allow me to take a sip of beer, and things like mimosas on Christmas morning were generally considered free-flowing.

    The result? I love food and love wine, and aside from the requisite binges during university, have known enough to drink responsibly and to develop a taste for quality. One of the enduring aspects of my early introduction to (good) alcohol is that I have refused to drink the cheap stuff, even through college.

    It may look weird (among other colourful names) to be drinking a bottle of Maudite when your peers are chugging back the cheapest crap they can get their hands on, but I think it’s a desired outcome.

  • Elayne Riggs

    “Fat doesn’t make us fat. Eating too much makes us fat.” Um, no. Being fat is for many people genetic, for others a result of being too sedentary, for lots of folks a result of their metabolism being too efficient. The relationship between being fat and eating is a complex one, and can’t be summed up with such a dismissive hand-wave. Also, being fat and being healthy are NOT mutually exclusive. Many folks understand the benefits of Health At Every Size — the goal should always be HEALTH, not thinness or weight loss. And part of health is knowing how to eat what your body craves, sensibly and in moderation.

  • kaleigh

    My kids have just entered the “tween” age group, and at their age, I had consumed plenty of small glasses of wine (I remember having a half serving of wine at a “special” dinner as early as age five). I have offered the kids a taste of wine/beer and they’ve never wanted it.

    My husband and I are non-abusing alcohol consumers, meaning we enjoy a glass or two of wine or beer nightly. The kids know that it’s something that some adults do, and we try to role model responsible and sane consumption of alcohol.

    The state where I live (Tennessee) allows minors to consume alcohol with parent permission, under parental supervision. I think that’s a great law because it gives kids a chance to learn about alcohol in a safe environment. Could it lead to abuse? Sure. Some parents may not be good role models. But that would be true with a more restrictive law in place, too.

    I agree that making alcohol a taboo gives it more power than it deserves. I like to give my kids honest information: a little alcohol is fine; too much can be very dangerous. I just hope the lessons stick when it matters: in high school and college!

  • Kate in the NW

    Wow – we were just talking about this last night. I have a 10-year-old daughter who is very much a “foodie” (I hate that word, but don’t know a good alternative), and we’ve always had the “one-bite rule” in our house, plus we’ve traveled a lot with her, eating whatever is best/traditional in the country we were visiting. Consequently, she will eat almost anything and judge it by taste and quality, not by some preconceived idea of what might be “yucky.” She knows food, and we always let her try a sip of whatever wine or beer we’ve opened for the night – she can actually tell dry from sweet, detect oakiness, hops, etc., all from one sip. Just like with food, I think it’s part of developing her palate, which is a tremendous gift I’d like to give her before she leaves my house.

    She’s also recently been wanting to cook, which brings up another kid/table issue – using knives and flame…eeek. There’s a subject for another post.

    Anyway – I have to concur with several of the wise folks above and say that it all depends on your kid – who she is and how she lives in the world. I tend to be an extremist and more or less hedonistic – more is more. My husband, on the other hand (the son of an alcoholic, by the way), is very self-disciplined and moderate. Maybe even uptight. Between the two of us, we balance out and make a decent human being. So it seems like maybe the trick is being an observant parent, understanding your kid’s tendencies and motivations, and judiciously parsing out experiences in a way that helps the kid become self-aware and develop her own judgment.

    There is definitely joy in excess, in going beyond what is strictly healthy. This applies to food, alcohol, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, you name it. But there’s also a price to pay for indulgence, and consequences that reach beyond one’s solipsistic, needy little ego – and maybe that’s really the thing that’s hard for kids to grasp until they’re older (in my case, 40, but that’s another story…I’m trying to spare my kid that pain). While in my heart of hearts I don’t want my daughter to ever do ANYTHING that would endanger or harm her, I also don’t wish for her a life devoid of the joys and lessons of excess. I just want her to understand that there are costs, and some things are too dangerous to do even once (drunk driving, etc).

    So I guess what I’m thinking, really, is that it all has less to do with some bewitching, intrinsic, and possibly corrupting property of alcohol itself and much more to do with developing judgment with regard to ANY vice.Depending on one’s temperment, this can be easy or very, very difficult.

    She indulges well who lives to indulge another day….

    By the way, I love your writing. And you can thank your beastly friend AB for my long-winded posts, which you’re now going to suffer from too. Until a few weeks ago I had zero experience with the “blogosphere” – gack – and I usually hate screens. But now I find myself glued to this one, and I’m just so glad people are thinking about these things and having discussions. I want to buy an island somewhere and have a big dinner party with all (well, some of) these people.

    Cheers….

  • Jessica

    Michael,

    I was raised in a house with similar traditions to you yours as a child and I raise my own step-daughter, now 17, but started with her at 7 and my 5 year old in the same way. My kids are both aware of wine and beer. After age 10 is when we started educating my step daughter about wine/beer and food pairings and she was allowed to have a small glass of whatever we were having during a holiday meal. Even though children make their own choices once adults I am a firm believe in raise a child who is well rounded and knowledgeable about as many things as possible including wine and food.

  • Kay

    My parents let me try alcoholic beverages when I was even younger than that; I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now. Wine in particular is just revolting to me. I’ll cook with it if required, but the notion of enjoying the taste of rotten fruit enough to pay money for it is completely foreign to me, and I find the culture which has evolved around the practice to be equally revolting. Clearly, I was not morally corrupted by my parents’ irresponsibility in this particular case.

  • *susan*

    Drinking and children is a hot button issue in this country, and perhaps for good reason. The amount of binge drinking we saw amongst my daughter’s friends, starting in 7th grade was horrifying.

    I was lucky enough to live in France as a child with relatives who had children even younger than me. Daily, the young children ate before the adults, but on the weekends and for holidays, the entire family came together for “dining room” meals. On these occasions, the older children [over 10 perhaps], were given watered down wine with their dinner. The young boys were taught how to open the bottles starting at about age 6. Opening the wine was an honor saved as a reward for good behavior.

    Wine was simply part of the fabric of life. [Cheese was done in a similar way… mild cheese for the young, and more complex flavors as they grew up.]

    By the time the child was 16, they were being served wine without the water and eating some mighty delicious cheeses.

    We chose this approach with our child and maybe it worked. She isn’t a drinker, but this might be because she doesn’t really like the taste of alcohol. Now 21 years old, she knows how to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner but mostly serves as the designated driver for her friends.

    The forbidden fruit is really hard to resist after all.

  • Lucas

    The following post was very near yours in my RSS reader:
    http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2008/03/craving_and_denial.php

    “Dr. Vaillant compared 136 men who were alcoholics with men who were not. Those who grew up in families where alcohol was forbidden at the table, but was consumed away from the home, apart from food, were seven times more likely to be alcoholics that those who came from families where wine was served with meals but drunkenness was not tolerated.”

    Well there you go…

  • Joe Corey

    You just need to only let kids drink extremely expensive wines so they can’t do it on their own. If you let a kid get a taste for Boones Farm, they’ll be lushes for life.

  • Shannon

    I visited France in November and my friend (who lives there) took me to visit her college aged daughter. Her daughter was telling me that during her senior year in high school, one of the students brought in champagne to the class to celebrate their last year. The teacher partook as did all of the students.

    She also told me about her American college friend who’d tell stories about various alcoholics in her family. Yet none of the French friends my friend’s daughter knew of alcoholics in their families.

    My family let me take sips of various kinds of alcohol when I was real young. They were smart because the memories of how horrible it all tasted were burned into my mind and I didn’t feel the need to “experiment” when I was older.

    As an adult, I acquired the taste of alcohol…it tastes so much different than when you’re a kid.

    I agree that teens should be allowed to have a modest glass of wine with family gathered. If they aren’t restricted and if the mystery is diminished, the need to rebel will also be diminished.

  • Allan

    My dad has sold wine since before I was born and I grew up surrounded by alcohol. When I was young he let me taste wine and beer, but always made me spit it out. When I was older he bought me non-alcoholic beer to drink at home, though since I hadn’t acquired the taste for it yet I can’t say I partook very often. At that point he also let me drink the occasional glass of wine with dinner. My parents never let me drink when friends were over until I was 21, and even then they never let my underage friends drink.

    Looking back, I see all of this as a tremendous positive. First, I learned very early how to handle alcohol responsibly. I hardly ever drank away from the house in high school, and even then it was only a sip or two (especially if I was driving). I did the usual binge drinking once I got to college, of course, but it was more because my cup emptied faster when I was partying late with friends than out of any explicit desire to get trashed.

    Second, I got a tremendous wine education almost by osmosis (though also seems to have produced some rather surprising gaps in my knowledge). I also learned the difference between GOOD wine and EXPENSIVE wine, which helps immensely with dining well on a budget. I used to think it would be helpful with impressing dates, too, but before wine became trendy it was impossible to find a woman who was impressed by it.

    Finally, my lifelong interest in wine and beer has gone hand-in-hand with my interest in food. When I went to college I got away from wine a bit — not only was I no longer surrounded by it at home, I didn’t have any money to buy it (plus I was underage for the first few years). And as happens with many college students, my diet also went to hell. After I finished college I continued to subsist on foods that came out of boxes and carbonated beverages of various sorts. Eventually, after a trip home to see my parents, my interest in wine was rekindled and — since it’s hard to reliably find wines that pair well with microwaved flavor enhancers — my interest in cooking along with it. When I quit eating processed food I lost 15 pounds in about six weeks, despite the fact I had also started drinking half a bottle of wine every night. So I can actually make the claim that the interest in and respect for wine that was instilled in me as a child is largely responsible for my healthy diet as an adult.

  • romine

    Michael,

    It is interesting the things you are forced to think about when you become a parent. I contemplate these types of issues regularly since I have become a mom. Suddenly, topic s that never even crossed your mind previous to having a child–are now questions or even worries.

    It seems that this topic has come up several times in recent days between my sister and I as she has a ten year old. He came home from school one day after having an alcoholism awareness class was extremely inquisitive to why she drank wine in the evening if it is “bad for you.”

    She was just in Brazil with her family and the topic came up again upon her return. I have never been, but I guess it has a terrific music scene. She let her 10 year old try her cocktail—a sort of Brazilian Mojito. He took two sips and was really not interested. Her 18 old nephew was with them as well and his father forbade him from having one even though it was legal for him to drink. To us it seemed silly–the kid was on vacation, enjoying great music with his family. Why shouldn’t he be able to have a drink?

    I really feel the Euros “get it”. When we ask our children to NOT drink until 21 years of age, we are only setting them up to go to a party behind our backs and drink until the point that they puke. At least that was my first experience with alcohol. My story is nothing new and I think many adults would concur that their first experience with drinking was exactly like mine. Because we were not allowed to have it, we over indulged when we finally could. This cannot be a healthy approach.

    It is difficult because in the US we are taught to believe that “alcohol is bad”. And although I am also aware that there are dangers in over indulgence–I think children develop a healthy relationship with alcohol–or anything for that matter–if they allowed to try things with limitations.

    My son just turned one on St. Patrick’s Day. So, I have several years to worry about his future birthday celebrations!

  • HappyHoarfrost

    My father and uncle used to make their own wine(and also beer), so my sister and I were splooshing around in the grapes with our bare feet as toddlers. Today, child-labor laws and a litigious society would have us all thrown in the purple-stained paddy-wagon.
    We were/are also a foodcentric family–non-snooty, but adventurous & vigorous conversations and food and wine pairings were integral to gatherings (not necessarily limited to special occasions) for as long as I can remember. Really good wines, as well the foam off some adult’s Budweiser in the neighborhood Bicentennial Big Wheel Parade–these are early memories.
    I don’t think these experiences marked me for the inevitable, poor tequila-sodden decisions or the cheap jug wine (quantity, quantity, quantity!)of my 20’s–I continued to have fine-dining experiences with my parents, paired with very good wines with(not FOR) dinner.
    Now that I have children (2 and 4), I am inclined to let them have a sip of wine when I am playing Gourmommy, cooking or dining–if they show interest. More often than not, my daughter irreverantly deems alcohol “P.U.,” but she seems to appreciate the selection, the ritual, the stemware and the puzzle-piece aspect of wine pairing.
    It’s the drinking you DON’T see people doing that’s important to discuss (how and when on that conversation?!)–Great Aunt Ruth with a purse full of vodka and a liver like a ceramic side of beef.
    Whoever (above) deemed ABourdain “beastly” and ultimately responsible for such far-reaching food vexing gave me a snark–and I can’t wait to read Jennifer MacLagan’s book!
    Really ingteresting discussion–thanks.

  • Colin

    I think the hard truth of the matter is no matter whether you let your children try alcohol or not they are more than likely going to hit some phase of over indulgence in alcohol. I believe letting your children try wine or even other such things as fine cognac are really very good. The hard part comes down to making it very clear as to where you stand on issues such as drinking and driving, how to be safe and teaching in some way that there is a time when enough is enough. Some of my 30 something friends still have a problem with this, but needless to say when is it wrong to educate?

  • Kate in the NW

    I meant beastly in a nice way, Happy Hoarfrost…and I’m sorry to give you a snark, (I think…). I found MR through AB, and am grateful for the recommendation.

    And though clearly many people find a great many things vexing, I’m not sure what it means to “food vex” – please advise!

    I’m just now discovering (forgive me) that not all “celebrity chefs” are evil demon-spawn. Though again, I mean that in a nice way. 😉

    I think it’s the ritual of the wine with the meal that draws my daughter in, too – and the hospitality and conviviality of offering one’s friends and guests a glass of wine or bottle of beer. I like instilling those traditions of sharing and togetherness. Hopefully they’ll supersede the traditions of lonely drunkenness and/or drink-till-you-puke, but only time will tell…

  • carri

    Kids actually have amazing palates, they can detect flavors on a whole other level with their, as yet, untainted sense of smell and taste…I honestly think that this is why some are so picky…as they get older, the most taste sensitive ones develope into those with a more refined palate…I get some of my best tasting notes from my kids! One taste, though…’cause the rest is for me!

  • Eilish

    I think…not a big deal. My brothers and sisters and I all had wine with dinner when we were young. First watered down and then in small liqueur glasses. We almost always ate dinner as a family, so it was just part of dinner if we wanted it. My grandmothers encouraged it as well. Both are great cooks and felt we would never know what wines to pair with foods if we didn’t learn early.

    By the time we were in college, if we came home for a visit and wanted a beer or a glass of wine, we could have one. None of us are alcohol abusers as adults, though we all indulged some as young adults. My husband and I will probably do the same thing with our son who is only three now, but is quite the cheese aficionado already! Maybe a nice fruity red for him to start with….

  • june2

    I was never allowed to drink wine at home until I came back to visit as an adult, but I was allowed to taste everything – from wine to scotch to cocktails. My parents made such a point of what was acceptable for children vs. adults based upon what best supported the growth and well-being of children. It was all about our health. We weren’t allowed white sugar or processed foods either.

    And I must say that seeing my parents tipsy (at the occasional holiday party) was all I needed to form an aversion to alcohol that insured my safety and well-being during teen parties and well into adulthood. . I found them to be hideously embarrassing, even though they weren’t even remotely out of line, just silly. The drunk-driving documentaries at school made an enormous impression, too, probably in the eighth grade.

    The first time I over-indulged was such a text book case of agony for me to recover from that that was pretty much all I needed to know. Now, I only drink the nicest wine I can afford or else I just skip it and as a vegetarian, I don’t like – or need – cocktails or hard liquor at all anymore. I did love really good scotch for a while though in my twenties.

    Ah, and I do think knowing that alcoholism was prevelant on both sides of the family helped me to be super aware of it’s affect on me as well. Great thread.

  • IHOP

    I can’t believe this is even an issue — but then I suppose it’s just another symptom of America’s dysfunctional relationship to food, eating, dining, and togetherness. I think one of the key issues here is that if you’re willing to take the time to give your kid a guided tour of wine (or beer), then you’re (a) eating meals with your kid regularly and (b) engaged in their general well-being. Keep that up, and you’re a good parent regardless of the particulars!

    I say more about it in my blog at http://totallykickassparties.blogspot.com.

    Also, to the commenter concerned about his ten-year-old who wants to cook: chill out a little! My mother was hospitalized with leukemia when I was nine and my father was a terrible cook (and working insane hours to pay the bills without my mother’s paycheck), and that’s what started me cooking. I was largely unsupervised around the oven and the sharp knives, and while I occasionally gave myself a little cut or set off the smoke alarm, it was certainly no worse than anything my friends have done as they’ve learned to cook in their twenties — and of course, I knew how to cook before I ever lived on my own. Kids have good self-preservation instincts, even if they do sometimes do things that make us old farts cringe.

  • Kathryn

    Michael,

    I’m not sure how much I can contribute, being only twenty, but I can say that I’d have to agree with the majority of commenters. My parents started letting me taste wine once I started asking; it was never really forbidden, but also never just offered. My dad used to occasionally offer my sister and myself beer from his can, but I always hated it. I still have a slight aversion to beer and would rather have almost anything else.

    My opinion on the subject may be slightly colorded by my age, but I do think that the notion of forbidding alcohol until an arbitrary age is somewhat unnecessary. It’s so easy in this country for minors to get ahold of alcohol that the laws are almost ridiculous. Personally, it seems to me that all the law does is make alcohol more tempting, which is why younger and younger kids are sneaking alcohol and getting drunk just because it’s “cool.” It’s ridiculous. Even in college, where alcohol flows freely, people are constantly drinking as much as possible as quickly as possible. Why? It doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to sit here and preach and pretend I’ve never over-indulged, but after spending a semester in Italy and seeing how the Italians appreciate wine, how it’s such a part of the culture and lifestyle, I know I’ll never go back to just drinking blindly just to get wasted. I think that the US needs to adopt a more European attitude towards drinking and alcohol in general. I know that due to the over-indulgent nature of the American culture, such a change would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, but a girl can hope, eh? =)

  • Kathryn

    Rereading my post, I see that it’s somewhat pretentious and fairly muddled. I apologize; no harm intended. I guess I shouldn’t get involved in arguments while my brain is being fried by art history, heh.

  • DJK

    “would love to hear from anyone with a good rationale for prohibiting young teenagers from sharing a glass of wine with good food at the table.”

    Gateway drug. Wine today, crack tomorrow.

    Unfortunately, there’s a good chance she’s already LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!

  • Heather Fletcher

    I grew up in a family where I also was offered wine, champagne etc at special dinners. I feel it taught me the difference between drinking to enhance a meal as opposed to drinking to get..hammered.Because I had been allowed the odd libation, I didn’t feel the need to go to keg parties etc in College because I had learned to appreciate the taste of good wine, and other spirits. I honestly feel with my own children I will do the same.When you make something “taboo” it increases the curiosity of a teen. Potentially leading to binge drinking/overindulgence. In Europe it is quite common for young people to have alcohol.

  • Heather Fletcher

    DJK, I appreciate your concern in regard to alcohol consumption but your outrage far exceeds the issue. I assume you have seen a loved one or perhaps you yourself suffer the effects of alcoholism. I am in no way trying to be disparaging. I just feel people overindulge when they, are taught to use alcohol/drugs as painkillers. Bad day…oh well have a drink, kids being crazy…get a drink…that certainly would promote bad ideas of alcohol consumption. However, not when it is in the context of wine with dinner, and not being consumed to excess.

  • Marlene

    Interesting topic. We talk a bit about this on CK too. My brother and I were raised with the wine at Sunday dinner from the time we were 10 on. At 13, my brother could have a beer with my Dad on a Saturday watching the game, and I could have a mixed drink at the same time. As a result, we never did the sneaking out to drink because we knew it wasn’t a big deal.

    I raise my son the same way. He is almost 16 and is welcome to have a glass of beer with us at the cottage on a sunny afternoon, or a glass of wine at dinner. He usually refuses both, but he also doesn’t seem to feel the need to go out and drink either. We have talked about using alcohol responsibily.
    He’ll be getting his driver’s license soon and one of the rules here for the first part of your license is zero alcohol.

    We don’t lock up our booze at home and have never had a problem. Several of his friends, whose parents have stricter attitudes have had several problems with teen drinking in fields etc.

  • Triza

    Michael–This subject caused me much consternation in raising my daughter. My ex-husband and I divorced when she was 5. We still were both very into the co-parenting thing and he introduced the world of wine to her at around 7 because she was curious. We had words but didn’t argue in front of her and the whole situation made me wince. His argument was to introduce it to her so that she is not curious and want to sneak it. He didn’t know this but this was exactly what I did. I used to sneak my parent’s wine. So I did lighten up and she only had sips here and there. She’s now a college sophomore at an expensive east coast university and is not (keeping my fingers crossed) a part of the drinking crowd. She will be 20 in the coming week and we take her to a very nice restaurants when we visit and she doesn’t even take sips anymore. But I do know that she can’t wait to be 21!! (Wonder what that’s all about!!)

  • okiefoodie

    Michael,
    I am wading into this discussion from the other side of the fence–so be gentle please! I believe that alcohol, like sex is one of the more powerful, dangerous substances on earth. Growing up, and living in the South, where kids may be shooting firearms, and driving tractors well before their tenth birthdays, as well as raising girls in a culture that encourages false eyelashes and thongs for my preschooler, I truly feel that we should reserve the pleasures and responsibilities of adulthood for ADULTHOOD! I do not deny that it is very tempting to share the enjoyment and knowledge of everything with these cool little people we have created. But in an effort to educate them, I would just hope we could shelter them a bit longer from the inevitable realities of life. I don’t agree with make-up and sexy clothes on pre-teens, (or really teens for that matter, since they are the truly dangerous ones!) and I don’t make a habit of sharing my wine fetish with my 9 year old. I empathize with some of the posters above who want to share all the wonderful things life has to offer with their kids, and this is their right, but I don’t agree that I would be willing to let them go “into the weeds” for the life experience. I for one am an unabashed shelterer! I will coddle these children and keep them young as long as possible. Besides, it is hard enough arguing with my husband over who got the lion’s share of the $50 bottle of Oregon Pinot, I’ll be damned if I have to share it with the kids too! 😉

  • CrispyGirl

    My children (ages 8 and 5) have been allowed to taste alcohol since they first asked. So far that’s just meant a few sips of wine because just a sniff of my bourbon was all either was interested in. Since they’re still too young to be interested in having more than a sip of wine at dinner, I haven’t thought through how we’ll handle the issue when they’re older, but I’m inclined to allow them limited small amounts at a meal. My grandparents were incredibly religious tee-totallers to whom all alcohol was sinful, and although my parents didn’t share those beliefs, alcohol was something secretive, sneaky, and taboo. I’d rather my kids not be raised like that.

    And both kids have been allowed to use small chef’s knives since they were about 5. Very strict supervision, and no injuries to date. They’ve seen their father cut himself so many times that they have a great respect for the blades.

  • Claudia

    Growing up in an Italian family, wine was on thne table every night. Nobody thought anything of it – it was neither taboo, mysterious or exotic; it was just what Italian adults drank with dinner. To this day, none of my cousins or siblings drink much, except for a glass of wine with dinner (my sister), or out at a party, occasionally (the brother and I). The Italian-born and -bred side of the family drink even less (wine OR alcohol). Eh. Salute!

  • Food Prick

    Not to be a killjoy, but I’d proceed with caution. While European nations allow children to drink wine (small amounts often cut with water), their culture is different from ours.

    Binge drinking is more prevalent in the States. As she approaches high school, alcohol will become more prominent in these kid’s conversations.

    You need to make sure your daughter will view this wine drinking from your “Francophile” perspective and not from an American pre-teen perspective of “my daddy let’s me drink.”

  • Tags

    Thank you for the frank discussion. Right or wrong, the best decisions are enlightened by intelligent discourse.

    Another thoughtful discussion board regarding mind altering substances is

    http://www.erowid.org/

  • ErikaK

    Like many of us, I was given watered down wine at family occasions as a kid and was always given the chance to taste & smell to form my own opinions about food & wine. However, my mom was an alcoholic in the “hide vodka in the closet” sense, so I saw the abuse of it at a pretty early age. I can count on one hand the times I participated in underage drinking, and once I turned 21 overindulged my share of bad cheap tequila. Now as a parent of a 9 year old that considers himself part of the “weird food club” (counting the days until we will let him eat raw fish) we have to consider our actions as well as let him see responsibility and respect for alcohol. He has seen winemaking and beermaking firsthand from friends and associates so knows what goes into it. We always let him smell (he always says “grapey” lol) but not taste yet. I think that prohibiting alcohol until 21 in this country is ludicrous. The hypocritical part is the fact that the media is actually promoting “spring break” type binging by covering Lake Havasu party people this week on the morning news!

  • Shannon

    Michael,

    Kids in the kitchen has come up a few times here in the comment section.

    Since I have 3 kids ages 8 and under (with my youngest being the second coming of Bourdain in the making) I was wondering if you could do a post on how to get kids started in the kitchen using knives and the stove and oven.

    Like, what is an appropriate age to start them…how to teach them to use knives safely, etc.

    Thanks!

  • Andrew

    Erika —

    My 5-year-old has been eating raw fish for years. Relax, and let your son enjoy some sashimi tonight. :)

  • Bill Wilson

    I think you should allow your kids to drink wine with a meal now and then. Just be sure you have a sufficient infastructure built at home to withstand the fall out when your kid comes home loaded at 15 yrs and pukes all over the place.

    By saying yes to wine, you are giving a green light to them to drink other alcoholic beverages. It is your responsiblity as parents to monitor alcohol intake or shall I say regulate, because once on the lips, it will not stop.

    Parents that allow kids to drink beer and wine at home can at least keep an eye on things, rather than having the kid go to a swamp meet or bush party and get cranked up, and God knows where that could lead.

  • Betty C.

    Having lived in France for almost 20 years, I feel almost out of touch with the issue you raise. Of course, let kids taste wine…but don’t think that’s the magic solution to avoiding future abuse, either.

    In France, I felt there used to be a healthier approach to drinking among young people, but over the past few years “le binge-drinking” has somehow made its way (across the Channel?) into young French people’s behavior. And many are not drinking any wine anymore — it’s hard stuff all the way, and as much as they can get down…or more…the “French solution” is passé.

  • Lisa_S.

    I’ve been reading this thread and am glad to “meet” many who were raised like my sister and I were. Yes, we had wine at special meals from how far back – we can’t remember, it was always there. And we didn’t get the watered down wine, just a small glass with the meal. And we didn’t brag to our friends “oh, I have full access to the liquor bar.” I think we both thought everyone else had the same set-up. We had dinner at the table together too.

    Dad made his own wine and beer too. My sister and I always enjoyed good wine, good food, and good liquor. Neither of us could be called alcoholics. Oh yeah, we drank to the occasional excess in college (20’s) but then got it together. And I still will tie one on once a year for a good reminder why I hate drinking to excess.

    It was never a taboo for us so we didn’t treat it as such. I’m glad there are so many like-minded people out there on this subject. I think it may be a first step in addressing the gluttonous issues we have in the US – the “All or Nothing” attitude of temperance/alcoholism, abstinence/slut, diet/super-size, no guns/NRA. “Moderation” seems to be sung everywhere, but the practice is limited.

    So, let’s all get together for a social – I think the wine will last with this group. :-)

  • HappyHoarfrost

    Kate in the NW: Of course I assumed when you called AB “beastly” you meant it with reverance, as do I. And NEVER apologize for giving someone a snark, snirk, smirk or a snort–it’s a POSITIVE, a concurrence befitting our food porn-star, AB.
    I rather view our generous host MR as the Dr. Jekyll to his Mr. Hyde. Indeed, the more scholarly, fit-for-daytime & consistent apsect of his baser twin(joking aside, I’ve learned a lot from MR)
    I mean this with deepest respect…
    And please (do I have to say this out loud?): No one get hisorher cheesecloth in a bunch thinking I am minimizing the seriousness of this discussion. But then, I was the kid tiptoe-ing through the Terret Noir.

  • RISwampyankee

    Michael,

    I thank God that I came of age before Nancy Reagan and the manichaen worldview that is just-say-no.

    I grew up in an extended family of foodies; dinner was a time of good food, music, conversation, and wine. We kids were allowed (very) small glasses of wine when we were in our early teens. My folks considered a basic knowledge of wine to be an integral part of a broader body of social and life skills. When I look back on those meals, I remember how happy I felt being included in the conversations, the laughter, and my mom and grandma’s cooking lessons. They even got me to like opera. Wine was never forbidden fruit so I never felt the need to join the kids who were drinking Boone’s Farm out by the football field.

    How cool is it that your daughter is interested in food and wine pairings!?! Do you think she’ll be going into the family business or is it too soon to tell?

  • Kira

    Didn’t read all the comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating what’s already been said.
    I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong about offering a sip of wine to a teen, at a family meal, in a teaching context. That being said, I have to disagree with the idea that we can teach our kids out of having alcohol problems. Alcoholism isn’t a lack of information.
    Personally, I won’t be offering my kids wine because alcoholism doesn’t just run through their family (both sides), it ran over it, backed up, and ran over it again. Out of their parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles I am the ONLY person without a drinking problem. (I very rarely drink, because of that.)
    Alcoholism is a disease, or if you prefer, a brain disorder. For some of our kids, alcohol will fit in their brains like a key in a lock.
    I wish I knew how to prevent that. I really do.

  • Linda

    When wine and beer are treated as beverages that accompany food it is treated differently and understood differently than alcoholic beverages that are used to alter one’s mental state. I think of all the young people pouring out of British pubs of an evening, one seldom sees anything quite like that in the wine countries of Europe. Maybe the tapas and wine bars of Spain come close but in those cases young people seem to treat drinking as a larger part of the social occasion rather than an end and means unto itself.
    I think children and young people who are exposed to wine and beer as part of the social structure of a fine meal and in the presence of adults have a different sense of these beverages than those children who have watched adults use or abuse these substances for other purposes.
    Pretty much every child will be tempted to see what happens when drinks too much but the child who has a broader context for these beverages also has a broader way of understanding their place and purpose.

  • Linda

    You should read Angelo Pellegrini’s essay, “Wine and Children.” It’s in “Vintage Pellegrini: The Collected Wisdom of an American Buongustaio,” ed. by Schuyler Ingle and published by Sasquatch Books in 1991. I think it will pretty much resolve your dilemma…

  • Diana C

    Been reading your blog for a long time, love it. I’m currently a 19 year old in college, I see binge drinking everywhere. I was raised with the occasional small glass of wine with dinner. If I ever asked for sip, I was allowed. I truly appreciate that my parents raised me this way. I see many fellow students who were forbidden from drinking, so they did it on the “low down” where it was more of a binge and even here now, when parents release their children into the college atmosphere, its taken so far out of hand. They want to experience what they were forbidden. Those of us who were raised to think of it as more as a compliment to food, are less likely to binge or even cross the line of drunkenness as I have witness thus far.

    I recommend even with my few years, to allow your daughter a sip, to make her understand that the mission is to compliment the food, not to reach the point of drunkenness.If you teach her early on, it is better. I recommend to start her now, I know when I was around 13, there were many occasions where my fellow classmates slipped in alcohol at parties or even in class. I didnt partake for it didnt interest me but I could see others, that it was their first time. I rather see a parent take charge of such a new step in a child’s life rather than a fellow peer who more than likely is doing it because its taboo.

    Best of Luck

  • Soup of The Day

    I think all kids are different and what might quench the curiosity of one, might just fuel the fire for another. It’s definitely something that should be done with caution.

  • cybercita

    my parents {who were exceedingly heavy drinkers} gave us alcohol as a matter of course. when they gave parties, i always got a tiny glass of kahlua to sip on, and when i was in high school, my father {who was by then quite a serious alcoholic} made me a martini or gin and tonic when he made one for himself.

    as a teenager, alcohol held no appeal or mystery for me, as it did for my friends, who went wild at the first opportunity.

    as an adult, i’m completely indifferent to alcohol, in spite of being a very good cook and a food lover. i rarely even order a glass of wine when i’m at a restaurant, preferring to expend my calories on dessert.

    however, i can’t say the same for my brother, who has always had problems with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine.

    i think my indifference to alcohol is mostly because it makes me sick almost instantly. just thinking about champagne gives me a headache, and i can’t even finish the wine in my glass at dinner without getting sick to my stomach.

    i don’t have children but if i did i would certainly give them a bit of wine on special occasions. i don’t see anything wrong with it. i think the europeans are right.

  • pchak

    Michael,
    I’m far from a Francophile, but this is something that the French get right. As long as it’s controlled, there’s more to gain than not by removing the taboos surrounding wine. Our 10 month old twins get the ritual “finger dip” during our special dinners at home (primarily red, but some white for balance 😉

    cheers!

  • Jennie/Tikka

    I spent a lot of time at my best friend’s house, in my pre-teen years. They had quite a few parties. They usually kept the choices to 3 drinks. They knew we would be seeing adults drink and that we’d be curious about it, so they always allowed us to taste – not drink – whatever the adults were being served. This made us feel respected, took away the curiosity for us, and caused us to understand that things like Orange Crush and Welche’s grape soda were much more to our liking at this age and that’d we’d be more than willing to wait it out until 21 before we ordered this stuff as a primary beverage; ever.

    Let ’em taste…not drink.

  • Christine

    Starting at the age of 12 my sister and I were allowed to have 1 glass of wine at holiday dinners. It was done to mark special events and I think left us with the feeling that alcohol wasn’t taboo and wasn’t a big deal when done in moderation. We always knew that it was only with our parents permission that this was allowed and not a free pass for drinking before we hit the legal age. I remember feeling grown up (silly I know, but hey I was 12) and that it was a special event. I had my own “drinking in excess” experiences in college like many people, but that would have happened anyway whether I had a glass of Reunite Lambrusco or Canai (I never said my parents had great taste in wine) with Thanksgiving dinner or not.

  • luis

    Of all the blogs I have visited so far and I haven’t seen them all….I have to say Ms Glaze’s is one that I have found fun and useful. Frankly the other blogs I have seen are like living in some other planet.
    Foam? what the hell is foam and why would I pay my hard earned dollar to eat foam????? what the hell is that???????????? but guys don’t go by me. You do whatever you need to do.

  • Rose

    I think a lot of it depends on the kid too, my sister and I were both raised where the attitude was if we asked for a sip we’d be allowed one and in my later years in highschool if I wanted a glass of wine or a beer with dinner it was allowed, and once I got to college, while I certainly overindulge every now (and I’m sure my 21st birthday next month will be one such occasion) and then, for the most part when we go out I’m just fine with a drink or two. My sister on the other hand falls more in the bingedrinking category and I doubt that when she’s off at college next year that that’ll change.

  • the lawyer

    Not all jurisdictions permit children to consume alcohol (in any amount) at home under their parents’ supervision. If your jurisdiction does not permit such consumption, allowing it could result in unfortunate consequences should your daughter mention it, say, in school, where a teacher would probably be required to report such conduct.

    Such is the society in which we find ourselves.

  • Gael

    Growing up in a French backround I could tell you that I grew up without thinking alcohol was a big deal. I never got drunk until I was 22. That doesn’t mean I never had alcohol though. I have been consuming wine since I was 12. The first time I had beer I hated it and if anything I think kids should try it to at least take the mystery out.

    I also lived in the conservative south where they thought alcohol was evil. As a result I knew people who didn’t have a healthy view of alcohol and they think they only reason for it was to get drunk. When my mom was growing up in France she said it was common for her to have a glass with a little wine and then filled with water the rest of the way.

  • Kristen

    I read both the NYTimes article and this blog post with interest. One angle that has not been explored is that many of us grew up drinking wine (albeit a small, diluted sip) every Sunday at communion. As an Episcopalian, there was no First Communion ritual that marked the first day to have the host; rather, I don’t remember ever not having a sip of wine on Sunday mornings. My parents are avid wine drinkers and were involved with their friends in wine groups from before I was born. Wine was always at the dinner table and I, too, was allowed a small glass from the time I was around 15 or 16. I contrast my experience of growing up thinking of wine as a perfectly normal thing to that of my 10-year old nephew who has teetotaler parents. On a recent trip to my parents’ house (he lives in a different state), he expressed shock that my parents were drinking wine with dinner, saying something to the effect that alcohol is bad. The rest of us are concerned that he is growing up without the benefit of being able to see responsible adults drinking as part of their normal lives.

  • Traci @ Soup of The Day

    I’d like to add… my daughter, on her 1st birthday…. got a finger-dip of the very special and expensive champagne we had to celebrate her turning ONE. She hated it. snicker-snicker. I’m sure this will not always be the case?? :)

  • Shaun

    My father never made alcohol a mystery… he allowed me and my sisters to drink wine and sparkling wine during special dinners, he made me hot toddies when I had a bad chest cold, and he gave us rum & Coke for menstrual cramps (and I have to say, neither of the last two are true remedies for their respective conditions – but, it made feeling awful a bit better). He said he’d rather us drink at home than drink out, and that’s what I did growing up. None of us has ever had a problem with alcohol abuse, not in college or afterward. If I ever have children, I’d likely use a similar approach with them.

  • troubled teens

    This is a sensible and most important thing that is to concentrated by parents with immense care. As teens are introduced to drinking mostly by their peers, so being a responsible parent one must talk to their teens about drinking and the consequences in a healthy manner. As this is the important period of life it needs to be have all the information about drinking with their effects also. Now a days it’s became very essential to all parents to gather most of the information about teens parenting. Parents can get all the important information about teenagers by taking part into specific teens forums and discussion boards. Share your views with other parents.

    http://www.troubledteensguide.com/discuss-teens-problems.php

  • Ana

    @okiefoodie: ‘I truly feel that we should reserve the pleasures and responsibilities of adulthood for ADULTHOOD! … I would just hope we could shelter them a bit longer from the inevitable realities of life.’ BAD freaking idea. One does not automatically become a responsible, functioning adult when the law says so. Thanks to a sheltered childhood, I speak from some experience here.

    Anyway…

    Susceptibility to alcoholism may have more to do with personality and individual tastes/sensitivities than lack of exposure as a child. I’m all for offering children little glasses of wine or beer with dinner, but I don’t think that is sufficient to teach children appropriate use. You might also be surprised at what they pick up on their own, for better or worse.

    My own experience with alcohol is a little weird: My Baptist mother who preached temperance (but drank wine coolers and margaritas) and my alcoholic father steered me away from the stuff as a kid, but I later came to appreciate its finer qualities without spending many hours caressing a toilet bowl. I blame one of my favorite roomies in college, a chemistry grad student who loved cocktails, wine, and good beer and *GASP* enjoyed them responsibly. She made me quite a few martinis, and from her, I learned to appreciate alcohol for its flavor, not merely for the buzz. In 6 years of drinking, I have only been drunk once and still can’t understand why people claim to enjoy it.