I confess ignorance on this vital piece of info for boozing parents: Wisconsin is one of the few states left where little kids can drink in bars as long as their parents are present.
But that may be about to end. The state’s Senate is mulling a bill that would require kids be at least eighteen to drink in a bar or tavern with their parents. The standard drinking age of twenty-one applies when no parent is about.
Although raised by parents who occasionally allowed us a sip of beer or just enough wine to cover the bottom of the glass, my brother and I were on strict instructions never to even attempt it in a restaurant – lest we put the restaurateur’s liquor license in jeopardy. Of course, we grew up in the conservative (snort) state of New York.
Who knew the land of cheese was the place to go?
I jest, but the idea of letting kids drink in plain view of their parents rather than encouraging them to secret themselves away is much vaunted in Europe. Many countries have legal drinking limits set for teens (younger than the standard twenty-one for Americans) who are alone, but when a parent is on hand, they cede discretion to said parent.
So why is this such a problem? In a country where much of the concern over teenage drinking focuses on the dangers of binge drinking and fake IDs, the idea that kids can test the ropes first under the watchful eyes of their parents seems solid.
It’s an argument that’s been laid out in many places, including a Babble essay last spring. Interestingly, the lawmakers who are looking to excise the law cite a high teenage drinking problem in Wisconsin, and yet what comes to light in this Journal Sentinel article: few taverns actually ALLOW kids to drink with their parents.
Despite the law’s current permissive nature, the discretion currently lies with the bartenders – and it seems the overwhelming majority follows the overwhelmingly American concept that alcohol and kids shouldn’t mix.
It begs the question: if the kids aren’t drinking in the bars under their parents’ eyes, then what’s causing the teenage drinking problems in Wisconsin? Could it be the fact that the kids AREN’T getting good guidance from their parents?