Mom Lets Her Kids Drink at 13 & Claims It's Teaching Them to be 'Responsible'

Good Morning Britain

When it comes to underage drinking, every parent has different rules and worries. For some, alcohol is unacceptable before age 21, period. But others are more willing to let their kids experiment, thinking it's okay to bend the rules as long as kids are doing it at home. A UK mom is facing major backlash after admitting she lets her children start drinking alcohol as young as 13 years old, and she's not afraid of telling people why she thinks her way better prepares her kids for adulthood.


British journalist and mom-of-four Shona Sibary believes that allowing her kids -- ages 7, 14, 16, and 18 -- to drink alcohol at home will keep them from making bad decisions in the future. In the UK, the legal drinking age is 18 years old, but laws state that those younger than 18 are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages at home. While Sibary's practices aren't technically illegal, they are very controversial.

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They're so controversial, in fact, that the mother went on Good Morning Britain alongside a doctor with opposing views to defend her stance on the matter. Sibary says allowing her children to drink from an early age will teach them responsible drinking practices, force them to understand the ways alcohol affects their bodies, and keep the "novelty" of underage drinking from consuming them. It is because of her decision, the mother claims, that her children will never get so drunk that they are "vomiting and staggering."

"You wouldn't get into a car without learning how to drive," Sibary said on Good Morning Britain. "And what I'm doing for my children is, by giving them small amounts on special occasions, they're learning how their bodies react to alcohol with food. Therefore they're in a far better position when they go out with their friends to know what they're capable of drinking."

Surprisingly, Sibary's views aren't as uncommon as many would believe. BBC reports a recent survey found one in six parents allows their children to drink alcohol by the age of 14. Like Sibary, they say their decisions are based on the idea that they're teaching their children to drink responsibly early on. And this is something American parents subscribe to as well. A study published by the United States National Library of Medicine found that while 69 percent of parents said they did not think it was a good idea for kids to drink at home, about 20 percent of teen drinkers aged 12-14 were given alcohol by their parents.

But, in a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers note that there's no scientific evidence to support the idea that early drinking makes kids more responsible with alcohol. In fact, the American Psychological Association notes that early drinking can actually lead to a greater risk of alcohol dependence later in life.

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Dr. Richard Piper, who sat alongside Sibary on the panel, agrees. "If you're giving children alcohol to teach them, you may be leading them to harm," he said on the show. "The earlier people start to drink the more likely they are to have drinking problems later in life."

But even when presented with these arguments, the mother held firm, stating that her own childhood experiences are reason enough for her beliefs. Sibary's own mother died of alcoholism-related causes in 2015. For that reason, she truly believes she can teach her kids the difference between enjoying a couple drinks and becoming reliant on alcohol.

"Most of us drink to make ourselves feel better in the evening, but people with an alcohol problem drink to stop themselves feeling bad," she said. "There is a massive difference and my children know that difference."

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