There are seemingly two camps when it comes to the “correct age” of introducing alcohol to children. Camp #1 has parents saying that alcohol should be denied to children under the legal drinking age at all times. These parents believe that the legal drinking age is there for a reason – to prevent children from abusing alcohol and binge-drinking. Importantly, denying alcohol also prevents younger children from getting drunk and getting into all sorts of troubles.
Camp #2 has parents saying that alcohol should be introduced to children in a safe environment in which the parents have absolute control over. These parents believe that children should be introduced to alcohol in the safety of their home before they reach the legal drinking age so that alcohol becomes a part of education. These parents believe that children who understand the impact of alcohol will be less likely to binge-drink or get drunk outside the home after they reach the legal drinking age because they already know how alcohol impairs their judgement.
Which camp do you belong to?
In our opinions, we believe that it is important to introduce alcohol as a drink to teenagers over the age of 16. As they graduate from secondary school and move on to higher institutions, they become more independent and may be required to spend more time outside the home in the company of their peers. This increases the influence of friends and decreases the influence of us, parents. In order to protect our children from unnecessary harm, it is important to not only tell them but to show them, why alcohol is dangerous if consumed in large amounts.
Parents who drink in front of their children at home or during dinner parties have already introduced alcohol to them technically. The only difference for the children is the lack of tasting it. We believe that children over the age of 16 should be allowed to drink at home, in small amounts, so that they can “finally” taste it. Some kids hate the taste and that may be the reason for them to never drink in their adult lives. Others may love how it tasted, and for these kids, it is important for parents to educate them on the importance of responsible drinking.
One other reason why we believe parents should introduce alcohol to their children in the safety of their home is the danger of binge-drinking. If we deny alcohol at home, the first thing our kids will do when they reach the legal drinking age is to go out there and drink with their friends. The realisation of the “forbidden fruit” may drive them to drink more than they should and more than they could handle. The result can be disastrous. Getting drunk outside is the fastest way to get into serious, irreversible trouble.
Finally, this is a note for parents with daughters. If you have a daughter who knows her limit of how much alcohol she can handle, she is safer when she is out with her friends or even as a young working adult. By teaching your daughter what to do in a situation where she is in danger of getting drunk, she can better protect herself too.