Teaching Kids About Alcohol: Savvy or Stupid?

April Peveteaux
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kids and alcoholGrowing up in the buckle of the Bible Belt, alcohol was not something that appeared in our home; or even in the small town where I spent my formative years. Unless, of course, you're talking about down by the tracks where teenagers met after talking someone into buying beer and wine coolers. But parents, who pretty much belonged to one of the three protestant churches in town, did not drink and certainly did not want their children to even consider alcohol. Which is what led to the bingeing and dangerous driving. 

My husband and I have talked about being open about alcohol with our kids in order to not make it a big deal. My daughter knows what wine and beer are, and that it's for adults only. But also that it's nothing to get hysterical about. Treating booze as this forbidden thing would surely pique their interest, right? Unfortunately, no.

It looks like going all French in our home isn't going to help my kids make better drinking decisions once they're out on the town as teenagers. A new study shows that cultures with permissive drinking rules, where drinking at home is allowed, have children with higher rates of binge drinking than those in puritanical American homes.

It seems that kids who may be familiar with the social drinking from home, don't always maintain that level of responsibility when out with friends. This bums me out, as I was sure I was onto something when dissecting my own explosion into bad behavior as the direct fault of my overly strict mother. Doing the opposite with my own kids has made me feel like I'm being open, honest, and realistic. While I'm not against these things, it is disappointing to think they may not keep my daughter from doing a keg stand when she's 15.

Of course talking to kids about alcohol (and drugs, and sex, and cutting, and all those other crazy things) is the best way to try and get ahead of destructive behavior. But sharing a cold one to make it "normal" apparently does nothing. Okay then, more beer for us!

How do you treat alcohol in your home?


Image via anolobb/Flickr

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