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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maine... mainemusicmaker

As an Italian, we were given watered down wine and/or champagne....I've also never had a drinking problem.  My sister HAS had a drinking problem.  I don't blame or attribute that action to either of us in our adult lives.  That being said, I really don't see the harm if it's for a special occasion and it's only a sip or letting them get plowed at home? Ain't happening in my house. EVER.

sstepph sstepph

NO. UNDERAGE is UNDERAGE. And you can get arrested for that.

tazdvl tazdvl

I don't have a problem with one drink and they would be staying home.

nonmember avatar Debbie

My parents allowed me to drink when i was growing up but i watched my mother drink and act like a fool. I have not always been a responsable drinker. But i was never told how to do it ne other way then to jus get drunk. I am not a drinker unless jus every now n then but its not to get wasted its cause i like the taste. I have 4 kids 7 girl 4boy 2boy n 6months and i will allow them to drink when they r teens but i am goin to teach them the right way. And show them what can happen if the dont. Its really important to show kids the bad that can happen if u drink the wrong way. I got lucky growing up that nothing bad happened. I would hate to teach my childern the same way n them not get so lucky.

nonmember avatar Akosoa TjuhuTiy

Though we know laws and rules are intended to keep decent order, being scrutinized by what others do still annoys me even as an elder adult. So, I like the fact that your parents handled each sibling differently. I never thought I would say that, because I never understood how my youngest sibling got away with so much more than we did. What I learned about raising children, seven grandchildren and teaching for almost 30 years is that each child is as different as a finger print. Much later, raising a foster child, I watched how well he matured and let him decide he didn't want to sip champagne one holiday after he turned 18. My daughter, an adult by this time, took the sip when she was about 9, grimaced horridly *I still have the photo* and never touched a drink again. My son has no family history of alcohol abuse. My extended family has, yet my daughter's never desired to drink. My son was already 15 when my husband and I started raising him. My daughter, raised without a father, certainly had circumstances different. I drank socially until I tested positive as allergic to alchol. My daughter was about 7 then, when she dumped and refilled with water a bottle of gin left at our house by a friend. Recently, we had both realized my friends' problem. Relieved there was no sign she had been drinking, I scolded her on the property of others and dumped the friend.

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