Back in the late ’80s, my parents would throw random get-togethers at our home in Queens, New York. It would usually just be my aunts and uncles along with a few neighbors, throwing back a few beers while discussing the latest in politics, the economy, or whatever else the topic du jour was at the time.
Being the Eastern European family that we were, us kids were never discouraged from sitting at the adults’ table or just running around like crazy until we fell asleep on the couch. On a few occasions, my then 2-year-old sister — being the curious little blonde thing that she was — was known to take random sips of the wine and beer while no one was looking. She never got drunk per se, but it did put my mother on high alert.
Now, does that mean my parents were awful people for letting it happen? No. A sip of Ichiban hasn’t damaged anyone yet that I know of, and more often than not, my sister was so grossed out over it she spitted it all out.
But it looks like David Schwimmer is taking a lot of heat for admitting just that. In fact, Schwimmer recently shared that his 5-year-old daughter Cleo hasn’t just tried it once or twice — she freakin’ loves the stuff.
As Schwimmer explained to Seth Meyers in a recent episode of Late Night, “She loves it. I’m serious! If I have a beer out, I have to watch it, because if I turn my back, she’ll be chugging it.”
The topic came up while the two were partaking in a little bit of an on-air wine tasting. (Schwimmer stars in the upcoming AMC series, Feed the Beast, in which he plays a sommelier, and Meyers wanted to test his knowledge.)
“I don’t know how the other parents are out there,” explained Schwimmer, “but … my thought when, you know, when I pour myself a glass of wine that my wife and I have over dinner, and my daughter says, ‘Can I try that?’ … I thought, ‘Well, if you start saying no, then they’re just going to want it more.’ So, I thought ‘Yeah, all right. Go ahead, sweetie. Have a sip.'”
As it turns out, Cleo’s palette is a bit more critical when it comes to wine. “Luckily she was like, ‘Blah! No!'” Schwimmer recalls — which is exactly why he thought she would turn her nose up to beer, as well. (Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.)
As with anything a celebrity says or does these days, the critics were immediately out with their pitchforks following the airing, with many on Twitter claiming that Schwimmer might be doing more harm than good for his daughter.
But parenting philosophies aside, studies do show that children who are allowed to sample alcohol are more likely to drink on a regular basis by the time they reached high school than those who were forbidden.
Honestly, though, there’s no magic parenting formula that guarantees our children will become teetotalers for the rest of their lives. I’ve always personally believed that kids learn by example, and in many cases pick up their habits from their parents. Going back to my own parents, they were always casual drinkers that only liked to sip their wine in social settings than by themselves. A drink here and there was used to relax and unwind more than anything else.
If my own kids end up taking a sip of alcohol behind my back, I’m not going to freak out about it, but I’m not going to encourage it, either. I mean, we’ve all heard of at least that one aunt who used to dip their kids’ pacifiers in rum to help them sleep better, right? And with or without alcohol, toddlers end up acting like village drunks anyway. I’m sure David Schwimmer and his wife aren’t hosting happy hour at the sand pit with the other neighborhood kids, so let’s not judge him for it too much here.