Should parents introduce children to alcohol (in moderation) at an early age?
The National Institute of Abuse and Alcoholism survey has been released. It puts into question whether introducing children to alcohol is helpful, a commonly held belief. The survey takes the view that it is not helpful, moreover they state that it can cause alcoholism in later life for those children. This was a scientific survey, but socially and ethically, should parents introduce alcohol to their children?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Positive association with alcohol
It's not all about letting your kids drink. It's about teaching your child at around the age of 17 to be responsible about it. Everyone knows that kids are going to drink especially when they reach college. It would be better for the kid to have some sort of introduction to it, or else they will go crazy with it and end up hurting them or others. If a parent strictly forbids it, the kid will rebel and find him or her self in situations where they cant get home safe so they drive themselves, unable to call a raging parent about drinking, for a ride home.
The point is to train them to be responsible with alcohol. "Rebellion" has been seen as the "cool' thing for generations now. Letting teens think of drinking as a "wrong" thing will make them want to do it even more
How about the children see no relationship with alcohol at home? They will see drinking alcohol as something alien and wrong altogether.
By giving children alcohol, you are showing them that drinking is acceptable, and they will be more likely to drink of their own accord under the age of 18. You cannot say that because a child has experienced the consumption of alcohol, they will not feel the need to drink alcohol as a teenager, with their friends, it is a totally different taboo and experience. In turn, this drinking could turn into a teenage binge drinking habit.
Lowering the taboo
By allowing alcohol in the home and allowing those under 18 to drink it, within reason, booze is no longer a prohibited substance; there would be no taboo surrounding it. Under 18’s would not feel the need to break against their parent’s reigns. Also, once the age of 18 has been reached the teen would not feel the need to overcompensate for the years without alcohol; they will be less likely to go on a massive booze crawl.
A lot of people who are allowed alcohol when they are younger still find the urge to go out and party and get really ill because the alcohol is in moderation. I do not think that it matters whether they are given alcohol at an early age or not because when they hit the age of 18 the teenager would experience a whole new world where alcohol is available legally and a lot more of it.
There are many kinds of alcoholics, those who drink in constantly in the company of others, people who drink alone and people who drink at home. People find it hard to admit to any form of alcoholism and lie to people as to how much alcohol they have had. If a child is allowed to drink at home, and allowed a little freedom in the drinking arena, they will feel no need to hide from their parents the fact that they have consumed alcohol. This open and honest approach to alcohol goes against the traits which alcoholics have in their relationship with alcohol.
This would be fine if their parents essentially were not alcoholics. It surely depends on the parent's drinking habits whether enforcing legalised drinking in the home is a good idea. Children could learn some very bad habits.
The National Institute of Abuse and Alcoholism survey
This US survey found that those who had consumed alcohol before the age of 15 had a greater risk of developing a taste for it and this could be the trigger needed for someone who had a predisposition to addiction. Parents surely want the best for their children and this survey shows that the best thing to do is to keep alcohol away from under 18’s, no matter what the reasons for such exposure are.
The first point to note about this survey is that it was separated into three catagories; under 15's, 16-17, and over 18's. The over 18 results would not be in dispute in Britain as that is th legal drinking age and people have the freedom to make their own decisons. 15-17 is a category which only contains two specific ages and the risk of forming alcoholism is said to be lower than the under 15 category. But the under 15 category is such a huge selection of the 22,000 people surveyed. It groups those who are 13/14 with those who are 5/6. One case study cited a case study of a girl who had "her stomach pumped at 15 after drinking from the age of three, because her mother thought it wise to introduce her to drink at home."(1) Surely this is not an example of alcohol being introduced sensibly in the home. I would think it commonsense that under 10's should not be introduced to alcohol. There is no need to introduce alcohol at such a young age. It should be introduced when the child comes to an age where alcohol appears cool. For this survey to be a reliable basis for parenting it needs to separate the undr 15 category.
A further point is that the statistics in the survey may not proove the point that the NIAA have been trying to enforce, and so they have manipulated the categories inorder to suit their own conclusions and purposes.
Alcohol causes harm
No matter how small a quantity of alcohol you consume, each measure is harming your brain and body. Under 18’s are going through a rapid process of growth, both in the body and the brain. To give such a malleable body and brain alcohol is harming your child, even if only to a small extent. Such harm should be avoided not encouraged.
There is an old saying that goes like this "don't do as I do, do as I say." It's also vitally important that the adults drink responsibly at those times, demonstrating to the young person that alcohol can be enjoyed safely, with limits. You must also know when enough is enough. By only drinking these amounts in certain company, the child is less likely to become a heavy drinker in the wrong company. It should teach them to be comfortable with their alcohol - rather than abusing it.
Furthermore, its far from possible to avoid the multiple harms facing us in today's polluted world. Really, that small bit of alcohol that the proposition proposes would not cause any significant measure of harm compared to what we face on a daily basis. What we propose is to expose slightly that alcohol so as so encourage the child to become less of a heavy drinker later as mentioned above.
What do you think?