Friday, March 28, 2008

Kids and Alcohol

I was perusing my blog favs today and followed a link from this post to this one, finding the following excerpt that just rang so true with me.

"Dr. Vaillant compared 136 men who were alcoholics with men who were not. Those who grew up in families where alcohol was forbidden at the table, but was consumed away from the home, apart from food, were seven times more likely to be alcoholics that those who came from families where wine was served with meals but drunkenness was not tolerated.

He concluded that teenagers should be taught to enjoy wine with family meals, and 25 years later Dr. Vaillant stands by his recommendation. “The theoretical position is: driving a car, shooting a rifle, using alcohol are all dangerous activities,” he told me, “and the way you teach responsibility is to let parents teach appropriate use.”

“If you are taught to drink in a ceremonial way with food, then the purpose of alcohol is taste and celebration, not inebriation,” he added. “If you are forbidden to use it until college then you drink to get drunk.”

I am pretty sure that when the time comes we will follow this approach. My parents never drank any alcoholic beverages when I was growing up other than the very rare coctail at a restaurant if we had a long wait for a table or a glass of wine or hot buttered rum at a holiday gathering. I was allowed a *sip* but never more. I remember the first Christmas after turning 21. I brought a bottle of peppermint schnapps to my Aunt's house to make peppermint cocoa or coffee and my mom was less than thrilled. It took her a few years before being comfortable with seeing me drink a beer or two or glass of wine.

But worse, I was a college (and a bit in high school too) partier. It was new, it was fun. I think I would have been less interested if I had been allowed to do some drinking (a small glass of wine, beer, hot buttered rum, etc) at times at home when I was a teenager. It would have demistified it a bit. Made it less a big deal.

Or maybe it wouldn't have. But I don't think it would have made me drink more. Less maybe, but not more. I am quite certain of that. I had more of a message of "don't drink at all" growing up than "drink responsibly and enjoy it" growing up. But I really don't fault my parents for it. My Mom grew up with alcoholic parents and as one of the oldest kids had to deal with being a pseudo parent to younger siblings. And neither of my parents really like alcoholic beverages. John and I do though, as do his parents, so I think when the time comes (maybe 16?) we will let our kids have the occassion glass of wine or microbrew at family dinners.

What are your thoughts?

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