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

Read More >