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If you are okay with drinking as an adult, how do you think about alcohol and teens?


Janie Grace
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I'm frustrated with alcohol because of teenagers. I'm fine with alcohol itself (at least for myself personally) -- I enjoy a glass or two of wine, a mixed drink now and then if I'm out with dh, whatever. I see no problem with adults drinking responsibly. There's no alcoholism in my family and I have never been drunk (maybe a little tipsy). I'm a rule-follower by nature and was not in a partying peer group; I didn't drink till I was 21, and I have never been around people who are drinking to get drunk. So that's my personal background. Dh had a rebellious period where he drank some as a teenager but nothing crazy. His parents came down hard enough that it only happened a couple of times.

 

We are raising our kids with the rule that you need to obey the law and not drink till 21. I'm okay with the idea of sharing a drink with an older teen (like 18+) in my home. We have let our kids taste our wine/beer. This is the way our parents raised us and (for us) it resulted in a healthy relationship toward alcohol. It's working so far with our kids. Our oldest (a senior in high school) has had lots of opportunities to drink socially and doesn't. She's in a minority, and she's at a Christian school.

 

But the relationship I see between teens and alcohol is maddening. There were just 20+ kids at her small school busted for coming to a dance drunk. Why is drinking such a draw? Why can't they wait until they are legal? Why is drinking so central to teen social life? 

 

We may send some of our kids to public school next year and I know it'll be the same there. It's wearying to constantly be asking "will there be alcohol there? What is your plan?" I wish it just weren't an issue.

 

I have friends who just make peace with their kids inevitably drinking. They let their kids sleep over at parties or even knowingly host parties where there is alcohol. They say "They are going to do it anyway, I need to make sure they are safe." Up until now, I have thought this is absolutely crazy and wrong. But I am starting to wonder if I am just sheltered and naive. We got lucky with our first (she is principled and self-controlled in this area) but are we just asking for trouble with our other kids by being hard-lined (don't do it)?

 

If you think drinking is an acceptable part of adult life, how do you handle older teens and alcohol? How do you help them navigate these years when the law says they are too young but their peers are partaking? 

 

If you think alcohol is sinful, I respect your opinion but this might not be your thread. I'm really wanting to hear from those who are okay with it. 

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Hopefully someone can link some of the info, but one of the things that has surprised me to read is that the practice of sharing a little with older kids and teens does not help them avoid drinking problems and develop a healthy relationship with alcohol - statistically, it's apparently the opposite. So... that also surprised me because it didn't fit my anecdotal experience. But knowing that has made me re-evaluate what I'll do with my kids when we get to that point.

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I believe the legal drinking age should be 19 and that moderate drinking is fine in college. Raising the age to 21 was stupid because it just drove all the college partying underground where there is less adult supervision and no paid bartender to cut people off after they've had too many.

 

I am against minors and young adults still in high school consuming alcohol.

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I am fine with my own teens drinking alcohol in my home under my supervision; I am teaching my kids that moderate, occasional, consumption of alcohol is fine and modeling that for them.  I'm *that mom*, however, when my oldest goes to a party.  I will call the parents (or not let her go if I can't speak with them) and ask about alcohol and supervision, DD knows that she is not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking, that she needs to walk out on a party with illegal drugs (not because I think pot is so awful but because an arrest could jeopardize college scholarships), that she can call me to pick her up for whatever reason, and she can even blame her "square" mother for having to go leave the party.

 

Drinking is so out of control among teens because it's forbidden and seen as out-of-reach, so when they get their hands on it, they go nuts.  I know the research says otherwise, but that does not comport with my personal anecdotal experience, so we are doing otherwise with our kids.

Edited by reefgazer
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My experience with alcohol is similar to yours, OP.  DH and I both have similar experiences, actually, to you and your DH.  We drink wine and an occasional mixed drink now.  I didn't drink at all till I was 21, DH did a bit, as a rebellion, but neither of us were in the party scene.  We are both responsible drinkers, when we do.  

 

I don't share tastes or sips with anyone underage though, and that's because I know that if someone is predisposed to substance abuse or addiction, those tastes and sips will not help.  They will sort of "turn on" that part of the brain.  

 

DSS, now an adult, was given sips and tastes by his maternal grandparents - who are both alcoholics - and it didn't go well.  Obviously, that didn't come from DH or me, but was out of our control.  It's anecdotal, but I can see the truth to the more recent studies that it's better not to give those little sips and tastes.  I'm sure that with DSS there is a genetic component, and he was predisposed to substance abuse.  It is a fight he will have all of his life, and I'm grateful that we survived his late teens/early twenties.  

 

With our kids now - nope.  No tasting.  But they are both coming from different genetic pools, both have substance abuse somewhere in their genetic past, and I don't want to risk turning that on for them.  Maybe if they came only from DH and me, my thoughts would be different.  But I don't think so.

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I'm frustrated with alcohol because of teenagers. I'm fine with alcohol itself (at least for myself personally) -- I enjoy a glass or two of wine, a mixed drink now and then if I'm out with dh, whatever. I see no problem with adults drinking responsibly. There's no alcoholism in my family and I have never been drunk (maybe a little tipsy). I'm a rule-follower by nature and was not in a partying peer group; I didn't drink till I was 21, and I have never been around people who are drinking to get drunk. So that's my personal background. Dh had a rebellious period where he drank some as a teenager but nothing crazy. His parents came down hard enough that it only happened a couple of times.

 

We are raising our kids with the rule that you need to obey the law and not drink till 21. I'm okay with the idea of sharing a drink with an older teen (like 18+) in my home. We have let our kids taste our wine/beer. This is the way our parents raised us and (for us) it resulted in a healthy relationship toward alcohol. It's working so far with our kids. Our oldest (a senior in high school) has had lots of opportunities to drink socially and doesn't. She's in a minority, and she's at a Christian school.

 

But the relationship I see between teens and alcohol is maddening. There were just 20+ kids at her small school busted for coming to a dance drunk. Why is drinking such a draw? Why can't they wait until they are legal? Why is drinking so central to teen social life? 

 

We may send some of our kids to public school next year and I know it'll be the same there. It's wearying to constantly be asking "will there be alcohol there? What is your plan?" I wish it just weren't an issue.

 

I have friends who just make peace with their kids inevitably drinking. They let their kids sleep over at parties or even knowingly host parties where there is alcohol. They say "They are going to do it anyway, I need to make sure they are safe." Up until now, I have thought this is absolutely crazy and wrong. But I am starting to wonder if I am just sheltered and naive. We got lucky with our first (she is principled and self-controlled in this area) but are we just asking for trouble with our other kids by being hard-lined (don't do it)?

 

If you think drinking is an acceptable part of adult life, how do you handle older teens and alcohol? How do you help them navigate these years when the law says they are too young but their peers are partaking? 

 

If you think alcohol is sinful, I respect your opinion but this might not be your thread. I'm really wanting to hear from those who are okay with it. 

 

 

In our state a parent can give their child (it doesn't specify age, I assume common sense needs to prevail) alcohol in the parents home.  Only. In my former state even that is technically illegal. 

 

My son is 17 in a few weeks....step son 16.  We have allowed a taste of this or that over the last year or so.  We absolutely will not allow or condone drinking elsewhere until they are 21.  And we would not allow them to run with teens who are drinking.  It is waaaay to dangerous, illegal and fraught with potential liabilities. 

 

Edited to add----there is a zero tolerance law about underage driving with any alcohol in their system.  My son is very aware of this and he values his drivers license.

Edited by Scarlett
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I don't know that I agree that alcohol is appealing to teens because it is forbidden fruit. Our culture has had severe teen drinking issues for a long, long time. I don't think it is forbidden fruit, I think it's fun to drink and teens often don't have the self control to cut themselves off. I don't like to cut myself off after a long day I want one more glass of wine, but I know it's not good for my liver or a good example to my teen so I do. Teens just don't have that kind of self control yet. That's why they shouldn't drink unsupervised at all. 

 

Teens want to be grow up and alcohol consumption is part of that, but they also want to have fun and alcohol consumption is part of that. Also, it's very equalizing. A shy teen can have a few drinks and feel like the life of the party. It is unfortunate, but I don't think much has changed. Also, teens have incredible entertainment options these days. There are so many things for them to do, but they always claim to need to party because they have nothing else to do. It is the same excuse as when we were in high school. It wasn't true then and it's not now. My two adult children are not big drinkers, my son doesn't drink at all. He's a gamer. We will see when the youngest comes of age.

 

Interestingly this thread came up the day after my youngest asked to go to the senior camp out where the seniors throw a party in the woods for the school. No one drives (this party has been held for 30? years and there have been no accidents) and I am considering letting her go. She is honestly asking and not sneaking, so there's that. It is a tradition in this area and the teens do seem to take the responsibility not to drive seriously. I am aware plenty of other things could go wrong, but it wouldn't be a bad first party to attend before she goes to college in two years and I can do nothing about it. 

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My experience with alcohol is similar to yours, OP.  DH and I both have similar experiences, actually, to you and your DH.  We drink wine and an occasional mixed drink now.  I didn't drink at all till I was 21, DH did a bit, as a rebellion, but neither of us were in the party scene.  We are both responsible drinkers, when we do.  

 

I don't share tastes or sips with anyone underage though, and that's because I know that if someone is predisposed to substance abuse or addiction, those tastes and sips will not help.  They will sort of "turn on" that part of the brain.  

 

DSS, now an adult, was given sips and tastes by his maternal grandparents - who are both alcoholics - and it didn't go well.  Obviously, that didn't come from DH or me, but was out of our control.  It's anecdotal, but I can see the truth to the more recent studies that it's better not to give those little sips and tastes.  I'm sure that with DSS there is a genetic component, and he was predisposed to substance abuse.  It is a fight he will have all of his life, and I'm grateful that we survived his late teens/early twenties.  

 

With our kids now - nope.  No tasting.  But they are both coming from different genetic pools, both have substance abuse somewhere in their genetic past, and I don't want to risk turning that on for them.  Maybe if they came only from DH and me, my thoughts would be different.  But I don't think so.

 

 

I mostly agree with this....but I can't wrap my brain around when would be a good time for a person predisposed to alcohol to take the first sip.  I didn't want that to be 21 when my son is out with friends.  I think ideally it should be past 25!  But that seems sort of unrealistic.  So I talk to my ds  about the genetic component but I also think  a lot of those problems are worsened by the crowd you run with.  So I talk to him about staying away from people who want to drink all of the time. 

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I'm OK with teens having alcoholic beverages at home with parents. I'm not OK with teens going to other peoples homes to do the same. Dh does not drink at all because he grew up with an alcoholic parent. As a result, I don't drink often. However we never made alcohol a big deal. They know I cook with alcohol. It's not a banned substance.

 

One thing I emphasized was not so much it's illegal and immoral, but the implications of having a criminal record. I worked with court involved kids until recently. My own DC heard how even a juvenile records can drastically change options. So my perspective is not based on morality, but possible consequences on future choices and education. A lot of teens don't believe terrible things like car accidents are going to happen to them, but simply getting caught could. The consequences of getting caught are not worth the believed fun.

 

My older kids are in college now and one just turned 22. The other is 19. She has celiac so no beer. She's tried wine at home. She doesn't get the attraction to drinking.

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Drinking is such a draw because it is forbidden. If we did not have the stupid concept of the drinking age, teens would not find alcohol so appealing.

 

In our state, parents can serve their children alcohol under their supervision. We are from Europe. We grew up having a small glass of wine on Sunday dinners, starting at maybe age 13. Our kids are allowed to taste when we have wine; they just need to ask. I believe this goes a long way towards demystifying alcohol and lowering the attraction.

I have never seen a family member intoxicated. My parents modeled responsible drinking, and we are doing the same.

 

I might feel differently if we had a family history of, and genetic predisposition for, alcoholism. But we don't.

 

ETA: The drinking age is dangerous. 21 shots on the 21st birthday is just stupid. It also prevents teens from seeking medical help for a friend who had too much alcohol because they are afraid of getting into trouble. This is one reason that some college campuses specifically announce that students who seek help for a friend with alcohol poisoning do not get into trouble - because it saves lives.

 

2nd ETA: Our two non-negotiable rules for our kids:

1. absolutely no driving after drinking. We will pick up, even in the middle of the night; teen won't get in trouble for drinking.

2. no drinking with underage friends at our house. My teens may have some wine with us; they may not have friends bring alcohol into our home, nor serve their friends alcohol.

Edited by regentrude
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We allow our 18 year old to try whatever we are drinking in our home. Just to taste. So far, she hasn't liked any of it (beer, wine, various mixed drinks). If she does come across one she likes, we'll allow a small drink. Again, in our home only. This is legal in our state at 18 (with parents only; I would not be lawful in giving other teens drinks). But, honestly, we'd probably allow it anyway. We have not allowed our 15 and younger kids and will likely wait till they are seniors.

 

What we will not do is allow others under 21 to drink in our home. We have a "host law" in our state, and they do enforce it. There have been prominent couples in our area that have spent time in jail for allowing teen drinking parties.

 

All of our teens have been instructed not to stay at a place where teens are drinking, even if they are not doing the drinking. From what I gather, if authorities are called/involved all attendees are busted, regardless of whether or not they've consumed. Dd(18) has left several places because of drinking, but there's always been others who leave as well. My younger teens have not encountered this yet (as far as I know)

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I'm OK with teens having alcoholic beverages at home with parents. I'm not OK with teens going to other peoples homes to do the same. Dh does not drink at all because he grew up with an alcoholic parent. As a result, I don't drink often. However we never made alcohol a big deal. They know I cook with alcohol. It's not a banned substance.

 

One thing I emphasized was not so much it's illegal and immoral, but the implications of having a criminal record. I worked with court involved kids until recently. My own DC heard how even a juvenile records can drastically change options. So my perspective is not based on morality, but possible consequences on future choices and education. A lot of teens don't believe terrible things like car accidents are going to happen to them, but simply getting caught could. The consequences of getting caught are not worth the believed fun.

 

My older kids are in college now and one just turned 22. The other is 19. She has celiac so no beer. She's tried wine at home. She doesn't get the attraction to drinking.

 

 

And so so often sexual assaults happen when alcohol is involved.  Or if not an assault at least bad judgment and regrets the next day.

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Where I live, it is legal for parents to give their kids alcohol when they are together.

 

The way I was raised, on special occasions at home, kids were given a small amount of alcohol.

 

My experience is that having had alcohol as a regular (though infrequent) thing as a kid took the glow off of it.  I never had an urge to drink socially when underage, and I have never ever desired to be drunk, nor to be around people who were being stupid with alcohol.  :)  I drink almost no alcohol for my own reasons, but I do allow my kids to ask me for sips on special occasions.  When they get bigger, they can have a glass of wine.  I'm not even opposed to them having a beer while watching TV on Friday night as older teens (though beer is gross to me).  If it turns out they have issues with alcohol, I would rather discover that in the safety of my home.

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I mostly agree with this....but I can't wrap my brain around when would be a good time for a person predisposed to alcohol to take the first sip. I didn't want that to be 21 when my son is out with friends. I think ideally it should be past 25! But that seems sort of unrealistic. So I talk to my ds about the genetic component but I also think a lot of those problems are worsened by the crowd you run with. So I talk to him about staying away from people who want to drink all of the time.

Yep, we talk a lot. :)

 

We also have a tradition in my family that my dad takes the grandkids out on their 21st bday for their first real drink. I don't know if he'll be able to do it for my two youngest, though it would be nice.

 

Honestly, I see a lot of appeal to letting them drink as teens with supervision and a safety net. Logically, that makes sense to me, and it's how we would have proceeded. Maybe even knowing about the studies about early drinking when predisposed to addiction, if we hadn't had the experience with DSS. But, after living it with DSS, and having two more kids who have addiction in their past - we're going with science here. But I can't say it's the right choice for anyone else - only us.

 

Edited because I posted this before finishing. Fat fingers. :)

Edited by Spryte
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It's illegal for minors to have any alcohol in my state. However, if DS10 asks I'll let him have a taste of whatever I'm having (ale, wine, and scotch mostly). He hates it. He's also around a lot of people who drink but don't get drunk; at church we always drink with the after-service meal. I can't imagine it having any special appeal as he gets older, but if it does, I'm fine with him drinking in the home.

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There is evidence from neuroimaging that alcohol use is more damaging to younger teens than older ones. So delaying the introduction of alcohol from high school until college (or later, but I don't know how realistic that is) protects their developing brains from the greatest harms.

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I'm fine with alcohol consumption as an adult but completely opposed to it under the legal age, except in unusual circumstances like religious practice or weddings.

 

For me it's about teaching them to observe the law and respect it, not judge whether it has merit enough to be followed. I feel the same way about speed limits. You can safely drive much faster, but that doesn't mean you should.

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There is evidence from neuroimaging that alcohol use is more damaging to younger teens than older ones. So delaying the introduction of alcohol from high school until college (or later, but I don't know how realistic that is) protects their developing brains from the greatest harms.

 

 

This is what I've told my son.  Beyond a sip or two in my house with me there I strongly encourage him to wait until his brain is more developed.  Well not only strongly encourage but there would be serious consequences if he went against our wishes on this issue while he is under age 18.

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We follow the law. Haven't seen any difference in stupid teen alcohol behavior since I was a teen....18 was drinking age for me,21 for dc. Doesn't seem any less are drinking or drinking & driving, does seem a lot more parents are supplying. The parent supplied houses fuel the trouble,.and after the last murder at a party, the local govt has changed the law re host responsibility. My kids know just as many dead from partying teens as I did, and decided not to be a part of that scene, as we fully informed them before they decided. We provide alternative activities.

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Yep, we talk a lot. :)

 

We also have a tradition in my family that my dad takes the grandkids out on their 21st bday for their first real drink. I don't know if he'll be able to do it for my two youngest, though it would be nice.

 

Honestly, I see a lot of appeal to letting them drink as teens with supervision and a safety net. Logically, that makes sense to me, and it's how we would have proceeded. Maybe even knowing about the studies about early drinking when predisposed to addiction, if we hadn't had the experience with DSS. But, after living it with DSS, and having two more kids who have addiction in their past - we're going with science here. But I can't say it's the right choice for anyone else - only us.

 

Edited because I posted this before finishing. Fat fingers. :)

 

 

After my mom raised my brother she decided kids/teens should not even have sips or tastes because of the same thing you went through with your older ds.  I am positive she would NOT approve of my decision to let my ds have a taste here or there....but I just can't parent based upon how my brother dealt with his teen years. Kids are so different....I mean we can do the best we can and they just ignore our advice and go make bad choice after bad choice. 

 

I am not knocking your decision with your youngers, just musing out loud.

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It's illegal for minors to have any alcohol in my state. However, if DS10 asks I'll let him have a taste of whatever I'm having (ale, wine, and scotch mostly). He hates it. He's also around a lot of people who drink but don't get drunk; at church we always drink with the after-service meal. I can't imagine it having any special appeal as he gets older, but if it does, I'm fine with him drinking in the home.

 

I think trying it and not liking it has to be helpful.   I was in college when my friend offered me a taste of her Newcastle and I discovered I liked beer.  I spent all of high school saying I didn't like beer because my dad had let me sip his Pabst blue ribbon when I was small and I didn't like it.   Newscastle and Pabst are sooo not the same.   

Dad said that back then Pabst was the bottom half of the giant barrel of some other beer.   Beer from the top of that bottom half was pretty good, but the bottom of the bottom half was really bad.  Knowing Dad he likely said yes when I asked for a sip because it was a bottom of the barrel beer.  

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My friends and I all partied through high school at each others homes, in the presence/supervision of the parents at those homes. The parents were the designated drivers, or we had big "sleepovers".

 

BUT, this was in a rural, small city/farming community where almost everyone knew everyone else, at least by name.

 

So, like everything else in life, my opinions are situation dependent, not a blanket opinion. I'd probably be more accepting of my teen wanting to have a few drinks in that type of situation vs. at a strangers party in a city somewhere.

 

Myself - I was done drinking by the time I was barely over legal age (19) and very rarely consume any alcohol as an adult. I am always the DD if anyone wants to drink. Maybe once every three or four years, I'll have a drink. I can't for the life of me, wrap my head around the want to have a glass of wine or a beer at the end of the day or with a meal, at all, ever. It just does not compute. Even though I got drunk and partied as a teenager.

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Our youngest goes to college.  She does not drink at college and she is underage.  She has a big group of friends who don't go to the frat parties and instead do things like play games (either video or board).  Sometimes they watch movies or shows and now they knit while they watch because dd and one other friend taught all the others to knit.  At home, she has had a glass of wine at dinner and that sort of thing.  I have not actually read the law about whether parents can serve alcohol to underage people here but since she isn't driving after a drink, I don't see a problem morally.

 

I would be for a lowered age limit to 19.  That would prevent high schoolers from being able to drink legally but allow it in college.  Maybe there is some college somewhere where drinking doesn't happen but I haven't heard of it.  

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 I can't for the life of me, wrap my head around the want to have a glass of wine or a beer at the end of the day or with a meal, at all, ever. It just does not compute. Even though I got drunk and partied as a teenager.

 

I think getting drunk at parties as a teenager and appreciating the taste of good wine have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

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We haven't had to face that yet.  I have even offered my kids to taste wine and they have no interest.  Dh will only drink Baileys if it happens to be available (puts it in his milkshakes) and I will have some wine once in a blue moon, but don't keep stuff in the house.

 

My boys are all (so far) against drinking at all.  

 

But we do talk about it and discuss.  We explain that a small glass of wine is fine, but drinking to access is always a very bad idea.

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I think getting drunk at parties as a teenager and appreciating the taste of good wine have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Nope they don't. But my teenage partying did not fuel a life-long love/need of all things alcohol either.

 

I do like some wines, but I still do not ever crave it at the end of the day, nor would I want to ruin a perfectly good tasting meal with it. I prefer water at meals.

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 nor would I want to ruin a perfectly good tasting meal with it. 

 

In a skilled pairing, the wine and the meal enhance each other.

If your wine ruins the meal, the problem is in the combination - or the quality of the wine.

;)

 

ETA: adding the  ;) to make clear this is meant as a lighthearted comment and no, I don't need to be "right". I don't really care what anybody else drinks.

Edited by regentrude
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Nope they don't. But my teenage partying did not fuel a life-long love/need of all things alcohol either.

 

I do like some wines, but I still do not ever crave it at the end of the day, nor would I want to ruin a perfectly good tasting meal with it. I prefer water at meals.

 

I think that 'crave' is not the right word for (I assume) most people who have a drink of an evening.  'Enjoy' is about it for me.  I might alternatively enjoy a square of chocolate or half an hour of yoga.  Others enjoy a warm bath.  It's a pleasant coda to the day.

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After my mom raised my brother she decided kids/teens should not even have sips or tastes because of the same thing you went through with your older ds.  I am positive she would NOT approve of my decision to let my ds have a taste here or there....but I just can't parent based upon how my brother dealt with his teen years. Kids are so different....I mean we can do the best we can and they just ignore our advice and go make bad choice after bad choice. 

 

I am not knocking your decision with your youngers, just musing out loud.

 

I don't think you're knocking it.  :) I don't think there are right answers here, really.  Obviously, you and your brother were raised similarly - and had two different outcomes.  So there just aren't any hard and fast rules about how to come out of this unscathed.  

 

I really, honestly think that if DH and I had genetic kids, we'd go with tasting and sips at home, the way DH and I were both raised.  But since all three of our kids hit the genetic lottery with birthgrandparents and/our birthparents who are alcoholics and/or addicts (and none of our kids are genetically related to each other, either!  Just luck here.)  - I think we are going to err on the side of caution and talking.  Even though it feels counter-intuitive in some ways.  

 

And still, we'll probably screw it up.  Because, you know, there are no hard and fast rules.  

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I am fine with my own teens drinking alcohol in my home under my supervision; I am teaching my kids that moderate, occasional, consumption of alcohol is fine and modeling that for them.  I'm *that mom*, however, when my oldest goes to a party.  I will call the parents (or not let her go if I can't speak with them) and ask about alcohol and supervision, DD knows that she is not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking, that she needs to walk out on a party with illegal drugs (not because I think pot is so awful but because an arrest could jeopardize college scholarships), that she can call me to pick her up for whatever reason, and she can even blame her "square" mother for having to go leave the party.

 

Drinking is so out of control among teens because it's forbidden and seen as out-of-reach, so when they get their hands on it, they go nuts.  I know the research says otherwise, but that does not comport with my personal anecdotal experience, so we are doing otherwise with our kids.

 

What do you ask when you call the parents? I want to be *that mom* too (and I have called about a couple of things) but sometimes I don't exactly know what to ask...

 

Would you be okay with DD being at a party where there is some drinking (if she is not participating)?

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Alcoholism and addiction runs strong on dh's side of the family. I am a bit of a teetotaler. Alcohol did not play a huge part of my upbringing. My parents only drank at holidays or dinner parties. Rarely a dinner at home with just us. They certainly didn't drink to excess. They let us occasionally have a sip of wine at a holiday dinner. It wasn't so much forbidden as we were expected to follow the current laws. Any parties my sister or I threw were dry. If you brought alcohol you were shown the door.

Dh, otoh, was brought up the opposite. His parents provided a keg and took everyone's keys because they were going to drink anyway. Which back then you could do. Now you can be arrested.

In raising our own kids we followed my upbringing.

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My kids have been raised around adults who occasionally imbibe, but no drunks. By the time they're high school age we offer them a mimosa or wine at the holidays. Usually they decline. Occasionally they taste but don't finish. I've given my college-aged daughter a very weak margarita (because I like 'em weak). There's no novelty or forbidden fruit aspect to it for my kids. They see it as no big deal and look at frat-style keggers as an activity for people who are either stupid or raised by Prohibitionists.

 

In my state, it's legal for a child to costume alcohol given to them by their parents in their home. I don't know that every state has the same laws.

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In these conversations I get a little confused when people talk about "tastes and sips" because of my own experience.  My dad was an alcoholic; it is what killed him.  When I was a kid we got "tastes and sips" and I just recall an aura of "ooh, we're getting away with something."   I didn't want that for my kids.  

 

Anyway, during my late 20s I was a bit wild and got drunk a lot.  I scared myself once and now am a very responsible, "light" drinker - wine with dinner, that sort of thing.  I have not been drunk in over 25 years; I don't think my husband has ever been drunk.  Still, I worry about my kids because of their grandfather and maternal uncle who struggles with addictions.

 

That said, if my state allowed it, I would give my older teens a small glass of wine that we are enjoying with dinner at home- a small (1 oz?) glass to sample with their meal.  My gut feeling (though apparently studies disagree with this) is that this is the way to demystify alcohol.   

 

But here in the Cradle of Liberty we can't do that.  But we talk about alcohol consumption and addiction a lot. They know their grandfather died of it. They know their  uncle is dying from substance abuse. They see the way we live now and our expectations for them.  So far, parties have not been a problem - they have always gone to homes where we know the parents well and there is no drinking. 

 

We encourage our kids not to look forward to their 21st birthday as an opportunity to get drunk.   But I don't know. 

Edited by marbel
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We default to the law's minimum age of 21. The only exception is that for our 18+ kids, we offer a glass of wine with holiday dinner if the won't be driving anywhere later.

 

DH and I are occasional drinkers, but not often enough to keep a bar on hand. Too old for that these days!

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In a skilled pairing, the wine and the meal enhance each other.

If your wine ruins the meal, the problem is in the combination - or the quality of the wine.

Some of us just don't like wine. My husband is one. It doesn't matter if it is a $400 bottle paired at the best steakhouse in town (true story), he only barely tolerates even the best wine.

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In a skilled pairing, the wine and the meal enhance each other.

If your wine ruins the meal, the problem is in the combination - or the quality of the wine.

I sense you need to be right on this. My opinion is that I don't like flavored drinks with food. You are welcome to your own opinion.

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I don't drink for religious reasons.

 

I don't have a problem with responsible adults drinking responsibly.  (no getting drunk, no drinking and driving, etc.  I've been in higher end restaurants where patrons are so *smashed* they are super loud and obnoxious and the restaurant staff is afraid of making a scene so they keep serving them.  - don't want to think what they would have been like if they had stopped serving them booze.  probably would have had to call the cops. I had one family celebration ruined by a group of these cretins.  the staff didn't care, they didn't want to piss off the drunk customers who were demanding the staff get them dessert from ANOTHER restaurant because they didn't like their selection.  these were restaurants - NOT bars!)

 

my state is currently looking at lowering the drinking age. I think this is really about enforcement (I do not buy their argument that teens would be safe drinkers).  if it's legal for an 18year old to drink - law enforcement AND colleges/universities can ignore the number of 18years drinking - and getting drunk.  then they only have to deal with the 18year old who has drunk so much (usually on a dare) they get alcohol poisoning and end up in the ER (but they don't have to treat it like a crime - just stupidity), and out drunk driving.

18 year olds are not known for their sensibility when they're sober.

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We don't mind our teen drinking in our home.  We invest in good wine that complements the meal.  If he would like a small glass to go along with it, we have no problem with that.  Same with a well crafted beer.  We don't mind him having a small glass of champagne on a special occasion, during a toast.

 

We don't condone or promote social drinking to extremes.  We strongly discourage drinking alone or using it as a coping method.  Our promotion has always been to see what alcohol brings to the table, not takes away from it.  We don't drive if we've had anything to drink, either.

 

FWIW, I can count on probably one hand the number of sips of alcohol our teen has taken.  It's never been forbidden so he's never itched for it.  He just doesn't like it, and I'm good with that.  He goes to parties and stays sober because he sees his friends acting like idiots.  I can trust that he'd never knowingly get into a car with an intoxicated driver. 

 

ETA: It's more than my parents could expect out of me.  While alcohol was never forbidden in our house, it wasn't talked about, either.  There was no discernment between cheap Boone's and a Chianti, or what could be done with it.  I had to learn a lot on my own.

Edited by HomeAgain
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I don't know that I agree that alcohol is appealing to teens because it is forbidden fruit. Our culture has had severe teen drinking issues for a long, long time. I don't think it is forbidden fruit, I think it's fun to drink and teens often don't have the self control to cut themselves off. I don't like to cut myself off after a long day I want one more glass of wine, but I know it's not good for my liver or a good example to my teen so I do. Teens just don't have that kind of self control yet. That's why they shouldn't drink unsupervised at all. 

 

Teens want to be grow up and alcohol consumption is part of that, but they also want to have fun and alcohol consumption is part of that. Also, it's very equalizing. A shy teen can have a few drinks and feel like the life of the party. It is unfortunate, but I don't think much has changed. Also, teens have incredible entertainment options these days. There are so many things for them to do, but they always claim to need to party because they have nothing else to do. It is the same excuse as when we were in high school. It wasn't true then and it's not now. My two adult children are not big drinkers, my son doesn't drink at all. He's a gamer. We will see when the youngest comes of age.

 

Interestingly this thread came up the day after my youngest asked to go to the senior camp out where the seniors throw a party in the woods for the school. No one drives (this party has been held for 30? years and there have been no accidents) and I am considering letting her go. She is honestly asking and not sneaking, so there's that. It is a tradition in this area and the teens do seem to take the responsibility not to drive seriously. I am aware plenty of other things could go wrong, but it wouldn't be a bad first party to attend before she goes to college in two years and I can do nothing about it. 

 

You know, this is a really good point. There are kids of teetotalers who go crazy and kids of alcoholics who go crazy and everything in between. It can't JUST be the "forbidden fruit" thing. For most people, the effects of alcohol are enjoyable. Your point about self-control is a good one. (You just have to watch a teenager eating chips or ice cream to see why teenaged drinking can be problematic!) 

 

I think a big part of why my dd hasn't succumbed to the pressure to drink is that she's outgoing and confident. I think she would be a lot more tempted if she were shy. And you are so right about the "nothing else to do" thing. Spare me.

 

Do you think your teen would drink at the senior camp? Would you tell her not to? My senior wants to go to beach week. She thinks there probably will be alcohol present, though not everyone in her group would partake. Even though she doesn't drink (or hasn't yet), I'm uneasy. There will be parental supervision but I don't know the parents so that could mean anything. Sigh.

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I didn't have my first drink until I was 31. I was never part of the partying crowd in high school and didn't go away to college. When DH and I got married I was on a med that could result in seizures if paired with alcohol and I took that warning seriously. Then I was pregnant or nursing. So it wasn't until my 4yo weaned that I tried a drink. We have mixed drinks or wine most weekends. DH sometimes has beer but not very often; he also prefers mixed drinks. 

 

The law in our state is 21 period, but I would likely allow a taste or two at home once they are older. 16/17 maybe? I think it would be better to have the first experience with alcohol be at home with us than at a party in college. I would not want them doing the same at a friend's house and I would not serve it to any of their friends. I don't think my oldest is likely to want anything to do with it. She doesn't like strong tastes and won't even touch soda. My younger likes a lot more flavor, so she might. We have a ways to go, though, so we'll see.

 

For now, we are just open about it and answer their questions. We neither hide nor make a big deal out of the fact we drink, but we also tend to wait until they are in bed most of the time. This is simply to be practical as I don't want to be tired or tipsy taking care of them, and it's not nearly as relaxing if you have to keep dealing with kids! Better to just wait and then chill. I'm sure this will change as they get older and more independent and also stay up later. 

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I strongly dislike the culture of alcohol consumption (though if you knew me in real life, you would not hear me say this. I'm no party pooper, but it is my quietly held personal opinion.) Alcohol is the root of such a significant proportion of tragedies and traumas, broken relationships. Yes, many can manage consumption with no ill effects, but so many cannot.

 

I would not advocate for making it illegal. I think the drinking age restrictions are somewhat silly. But I do wish we humans could find a different way to entertain ourselves and manage our moods.

 

For what it's worth, one of my daughters is at a college that takes a "don't ask, don't tell" approach to underage drinking. Seems to work fine for them.

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I read recently allowing early sips leads to a higher usage in adult life 

 

My own family background:  

parents drank, grandparents drank, holidays were extremely drunk and lots of yelling between them all

 

I was allowed to sip things in high school and when we went camping mom brought wine coolers for us to drink.  So I was allowed to drink in my home or a friends' home around the parents.  

 

However, I still snuck alcohol all the time.  It led to alcoholism on some level over the years.  I would hate how I felt, sober up for a year, but find myself back into it another year.  I know my social circle was a huge part of when i drank or did not drink.  Being able to handle a lot of alcohol only led me to drink more over the years.  It was a bad night of drinking where someone slipped ruffies into my drink that woke me up to get sober for good.  I was extremely lucky to have been with a group of people who took me back to my hotel room and not let me leave with whoever messed with my drink.  I have never experienced a worse morning in my life that how i felt after that experience.  I know that my friends must have been forceful to get me home and not off with someone.  I am thankful.  It took days to feel normal again.  

 

I stopped drinking after that and started dating my dh who did not drink.  He tolerated me having a drink or two on vacations over the years.  Work finally got to him at some point and he would get a rum drink once or twice a year if we were out.  He still doesn't drink to get drunk, but he's got some good whiskey in the cabinet and I think he takes a sip maybe 3 times a year.  I will get a margarita when out from time to time.  I can no longer drink daily.  It messes with my stomach too much.  

 

I noticed my kids asking more about alcohol in the last year.  I'm torn about how to introduce it.  Legally they should wait, however, I would not be opposed to my kids having a drink in my home from 18-20.  They have an alcoholic aunt who's not functional and I've told them about the family past of alcoholism.  Why can I have 1 drink and my sister can't?  Who knows.  Why can't my mom go one day without her wine?  Who knows.  I know it's something I can only have 1 of.  And I rarely have one anymore.  I hate whiskey, so if I really wanted to drink dh's bottle is there to sip on lol.  

 

I think seeing my sister unable to function as an adult due to her alcoholism has made an impact on my kids.  They want better for their lives.  I suspect one of mine will probably dabble with it more than the other.  I suspect there will be situations along the way.  I teach them that it's something to savor.  Quality over quantity.  With the prevalence of pot these days I'm also telling them that is something else to consider....can they enjoy it once in awhile or will they need to just say no so they don't end up being a pothead.  

I don't see us ever letting the kids drink or try it until at least 18 in my home.  At that point, I'd be more wiling to allow a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with a cookout.  Teach how to enjoy if they want on an adult level.  And encourage them not to get wrapped up in the teen binging.  But we all gotta walk our own paths....

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It's got nothing to do with 'forbidden fruit'. I don't have time right now to find a link, but I am pretty sure I read the whole 'but French kids don't binge' is an out of date assumption that doesn't reflect the drinking behaviours of young French people.

 

Interestingly, drinking problems in French 16 and 17 y/o have increased since the 2009 law that forbids alcohol sales to under 18 y/o.

http://www.thelocal.fr/20131003/france-drinking-smoking-alcohol-cigarettes-alcoholism

 

 

 

Back in March, The Local reported a study which found that alcohol abuse had become the number one cause of hospitalisation in the country, with short emergency room stays for injuries related to drunken trips and falls skyrocketing by 80 percent in just three years.

“Getting plastered on a night out has become a real badge of honour for many of our young people, especially young women, which is particularly disturbing,†gastroenterologist Dr. Damien Labarrière said at the time.

Edited by regentrude
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I grew up much like the OP.  However, the legal drinking age in my state at the time was 18; so , almost all college students were of legal drinking age. 

 

I live in a state in which it is legal for parents to give their own teens alcohol if they are drinking in the presence of the parent. I allow my teens to have a drink but I would not provide alcohol to a teen who is not my child.  We have spent a lot of time in Europe, and IME, the attitudes of young people in Europe toward alcohol are often much healthier than that in the US.  When children grow up going to the beer garden with their parents and grandparents and have a beer while carrying on a conversation with their neighbors, I think it is a very different experience than waiting until college to drink a beer at a party full of other college-aged students.  There is a sense of community that promotes boundaries around what is acceptable drinking.  We have taken the attitude "when in Rome, do as the Romans" and allowed our teens to drink according to the local customs when in Europe.   

 

I would prefer that the drinking age be lowered to 18.  I do not see how it is rational to say that an 18 year old can vote and can join the military (and be taught to use weapons to kill people) but say that the same individuals are not able to make wise choices regarding their own consumption of alcohol.

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I ask outright if there will be alcohol there, if there will be parents at home supervising, and how close the supervision will be.  I ain't shy - my questions are right out there and blunt.

What do you ask when you call the parents? I want to be *that mom* too (and I have called about a couple of things) but sometimes I don't exactly know what to ask...

 

Would you be okay with DD being at a party where there is some drinking (if she is not participating)?

 

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