Friday, May 7, 2010

Hey Mom, Can I Have a Beer?

I had an interesting conversation with a teenage girl.

According to her, many of her friends are raised in homes where alcohol is served to them at fairly young ages. We're talking 1o year olds here. Having a can of beer or a glass of wine with your parents is just a part of life for these kids.

Now I'm aware that many parents will give their underage teenagers alcohol because "they're going to drink anyway and I'd rather they did it under my roof where I know they're safe." I'm not even going to discuss that logic. But giving alcohol to 10 year olds is a new one to me.

I come from an alcoholic home. My parents found it amusing when I was 5 to see my reaction when I took a sip of beer or wine. I figured out at a fairly early age (12) that if I didn't want to become an alcoholic then I better just stay away from the stuff altogether. I firmly believe that although alcoholism is classified as a disease, unlike other diseases which you can get no matter how many precautions you take, alcoholism is completely preventable simply by never partaking. You can't become an alcoholic if you never drink alcohol. Pretty simple.

But what if you're served alcohol at a young age? What if you're not old enough to make an informed decision? What if you don't know that there is a choice?

I'm not suggesting that everyone who drinks is going to become an alcoholic. Many people are able to enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or a beer at a football game without a problem, but the thing is there is no way of knowing who will be able to handle it and who won't.

And parents who think nothing of giving their children (and I do mean children) alcohol don't strike me as the type of people who drink responsibly and within moderation. I admit I could be wrong on that but it doesn't sound responsible to encourage your children to drink. If a child is wired to become an alcoholic then you can't teach them to drink responsibility and before you know it you've got a teenager with an addiction.

Out of all the drugs that are a problem with teenagers, alcohol is the number one with tobacco as two. Both legal substances that are easy for kids to get their hands on.

Now, I'm not the type to advocate entering people's homes and playing Big Brother. But I can't help but wonder what these parents are thinking.

I realize that not everyone has my aversion to alcohol nor my absolute no-drinking stance no matter what age, but what's wrong with waiting until your kids are legally adults and bear the responsibility themselves?


Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

I've heard of this too. From what I understand, the parents feel like if the children are raised around it, its normal, not forbidden, etc, they will be more responsible drinkers and not out bingeing...

But yeah, I don't agree.