Should We Let Our Teens Toast the Holidays?


drunk teensWhile you're guzzling spiked eggnog or sipping Champagne this holiday season, what is your teenager going to be drinking? It's a question that you may want to ask yourself before the bubbly starts pouring.

I grew up never being allowed a drop of alcohol under my parents' roof until I reached the age of 21 (i.e., or until I went off to college and my parents no longer had control). But with my younger sister, my mom was a little more flexible, and has long been allowed the occasional bubbles on special occasions, such as weddings and Christmas.

Other than the obvious "younger sibling has it easy" issue, there hasn't been any real reason for concern. I highly doubt that the few sips that she did have when she was 15 at our aunt's wedding lurched her into a downward spiral of alcoholism.

I understand why parents would have a strict no alcohol policy in their home -- for fear that they'll be uncorking that metaphorical bottle forever. And yes, that would be a horrible responsibility hanging over your head, but the truth is, they're teenagers -- if they really want to drink, they will do so, with or without your permission.

You have to take a good look at your teen and gauge which is the best method for your family. If you prefer the "When in Rome" type of lifestyle, then have a glass of wine at dinner. If not, don't. As bent out of shape as some parents get about the whole "drinking under parent supervision thing," it's really not that big of a deal.

There was no difference between my sister and I, drinking-wise, as we both turned into adults, yet one of us was introduced to alcohol at a much younger age than the other. It was never a "forbidden fruit" to me -- up until college, I never even had a desire to drink, and when I did start, I didn't go crazy. And my sister, who was given the taste years ago with a glass of Champagne at a family Christmas dinner, has yet to turn into a raging alcoholic. It's credited to my mother who educated both of us on the effects of alcohol; she just used two different teaching methods. At the end of the day, education and trust are what's key. I will say that my sister and mother seemingly have a closer bond than my mother and I did when I was her age. Now whether that bond was created over drunkenly discussing life, who knows (kidding!). But in all seriousness, I think a lot of it has to do with the trust factor. My sister didn't feel the need to "sneak" around; therefore she's more open to talk to my mom about things -- whether it be boys, drinking, drugs, etc. -- whereas, I never really talked to my mother about that stuff until recently.  

For me personally, when I have teenagers in my household, I see nothing wrong with letting them have a glass on special occasions. I'm not going to allow my home to be turned into one giant keg party, but I see no harm in responsible drinking.

I will argue that some parents think it's okay to extend that same practice to their children's friends, eternally turning them into the "cool parents," which is not okay under any circumstances. Yes it's under your roof, and yes you may be supervising, but whether they drink underage or not is, by no means, your decision to make -- it's the parents' of the child. So as tempting as it may be to be the "cool mom," someone has to be the adult in the situation and lock that wine up.

What are your thoughts on allowing teens to drink at home? Will your teen have a glass of alcohol during the holidays?


Image via Incase./Flickr

drugs & alcohol, teens


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prinz... prinzesstephi

As my fiance is a dry alcoholic, we don't keep alcohol in the home, therefore this is a non-issue for us lol

chris... christy201

I was allowed to drink on special occasions at a very young age. While I don't agree that was right, we will probably begin to allow our children some alcohol as they become older teens. But as a way to teach them resposibility, not because "they'll find a way to drink anyway". I'm so sick of hearing this as an excuse to not set rules. Yes, kids will find a way to do the things they want. The job of a parent  is to make it as hard as possible to accomplish this.

Dutch... Dutch_Indian

I grew up drinking my father's beer and champaign and other hard alcohol during get togethers, holidays, etc...Although I rarely drank because I really don't care much for alcohol but my folks taught me that alcohol does not solve your problems it creates them...I watched my father drink all the time. I have a 21 year old daughter, a 22 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. I allow them to drink during celebrations, holidays, and periodically throughout the year. They have learned that they do not get alochol whenever they want it and they are allowed to drink occasionally therefore; they do not go out drinking and passing out in some strange place. My son does not drink at all, my older daughter does drink and party with her friends occasionally but she will call a cab to bring her home and refuses to drive after drinking anything. My younger daughter is only allowed to drink at home in my presence...these are the same rules I have always had for my children their entire lives. I have also allowed my children to drink a little bit at my folks house if they chose to do so but they rarely ever chose to drink anywhere other than home...AND none of my children are alcoholics! They all drink responsibly except the boy who doesn't drink at all.

klgomez klgomez

It's illegal, end of story.  That's a good enough reason not to give them alcohol, there's plenty of time for that when they're older.  

Feist... FeistyKate

I agree with the spirit of this article, but I do make an exception to what the author says about it being 'up to the parent's of the child' whether they drink or not. The truth is that it is illegal to serve alcohol to a minor. Period. 

That being said, I too had sips growing up and my parent's drank in front of us regularly. So it wasn't a big deal to us. We also don't have a history of alcoholism in my family. I think you have to be careful. Many people avoid alcohol because of their family history or past addictions/abuses.

Shane... Shaneagle777

My boys are given Sparking Apple Cider to drink.  They do not need alcohol and we never have any in the home.  Our boys never see us drink and I do not drink alcohol anyway with the exception of a 1/4 glass at Christmas and at New Years if at all.  Otherwise its sparkling apple cider !

mommy... mommyof2rm

I think even though they will drink anyway doesn't mean that I have to support them drinking. Anyway we do not drink in my house. not even on the holidays.

chris... chris07ss

I grew up allowed to drink in the house as my parents where ususally to drunk or stoned to care.  I fliped when my dad handed my daughter a bottle of beer (she's 4).  However over the past 3 or so years I don't drink any more and my husband only has a beer once in a great while so I don't think it's going to be an issue. 

Lorra Arnesen

I will most likely not allow her to drink in our home until she is 21. For one, it's illegal, call me uptight or whatever, but I think that by allowing my kid to drink at home sort of says "We'll obey the laws we want when we want to and we'll modify them accordingly" lol. It's just not how it works for us. I plan on having an open, honest relationship with my daughter so we can talk about these things, but you can easily teach a child moderation, the effects of alcohol etc. and NOT giving them alcohol. I don't see how offering them alcohol makes the lesson more effective. I will be one of those moms though that will gladly take my daughter out for her first drink when she turns 21 :) And if by some chance I change my mind and let my daughter have a couple sips here and there, I would still never allow her friends to drink in my house. That is up to their parents. I don't agree with the parents throwing parties with alcohol for their kids and all their friends. That is just asking for trouble.

ajbro... ajbrownies

OMG. Did she really say drinking under parental supervision was no big deal? What is wrong with people?! Good grief let them be kids. Honestly I am floored and disappointed that the question even needs asking. Why don't you just light up a cigarette for them, I mean parental smoking isn't a big deal, right?

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