When you pour the bubbly tonight to ring in the New Year, will your kids get a glass? Or are you more Captain von Trapp-ish in your parenting, denying even those 16 going on 17 from a taste of champagne in celebration?
Experts disagree on whether it’s good or bad to give kids alcohol at home. Some think it sends the wrong message, others say it makes the forbidden look less tantalizing.
John Lieberman, director of operations for Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, in California, says that it’s a big mistake to think letting kids have a drink at home will keep them from abusing alcohol later in life. In fact, he thinks it might be setting them up for the worst.
“The studies show that the earlier someone has their first experience with drugs or alcohol or R-rated movies or sex, the earlier somebody does that, the more apt they are to have an addiction or a problem or consequences as a result of that behavior,” Lieberman said.
But Jeffrey Wolfsberg, head of Jeffrey Wolfsberg & Associates, which offers seminars to students and parents on drug and alcohol use and prevention, says that offering children a sip in a celebration where alcohol isn’t front and center, shows that booze isn’t necessary to have fun but that it can be part of a celebration.
This is one of those situations where I think we parents have to be honest with ourselves and then go with our guts. One sip alone won’t make an alcoholic binge-drinker out of our kids. A single glass during a New Year’s dinner won’t either.
But if there are problem drinkers in the family, or if the idea simply freaks you out, there’s nothing wrong with 7up — or even not including kids in the toast!
Do you include your children in the New Year’s toast? What do they drink? Sparkling cider? A splash of the good stuff?