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Drinking With Your Kids

June 24th, 2008 beckel

I will take a moment away from drinking beer and talk more about our society as a whole and how the legality of beer (and liquor) in our country impacts how we live our lives.  J from Brookston Beer Bulletin and Lew Bryson from Seen Through a Glass posted about a surprisingly well written and informative piece from Time entitled “Should You Drink with Your Kids?”. To avoid ranting too much I will try to keep to the topic at hand. The simple answer to the question posed by Time in my opinion is YES! Now by making a blatant statement like that, I’m sure I will get the blatant responses of “But there’s a drinking age for a reason” and “Won’t somebody think of the children?” This is fine, because I am thinking of the children. Most people will drink underage, screw the statistics, they just blur the lines, none the less I’m sure we can all agree that more people drink underage than do not. Now with that said how do we want our (potential) children to learn about the consumption of alcohol? When alcohol is presented to a minor as something normal and not taboo not only is there less desire to consume it, but it also allows the parent to educate their children about it in a safe environment. When I was young my mother allowed me to consume some of whatever they were drinking if I so desired. The fact of the matter is after trying the stuff the adults were drinking not only did I not want to try it anymore (because it did not taste good to me at the time) but it also made alcohol not seem like a big deal. So when as a underage youth I was presented with alcohol outside of my home I rarely imbibed because there was no desire or excitement because it was not only a normal thing to me, but I also saw how silly people acted when they drank too much. Allowing your children to consume alcohol in your home, particularly in their later teen years I believe allows a person to become more familiar with the substance in a safe and friendly environment. Where no one has the pressure of friends trying to get you to drink or other silly things that kids do. If a person never has a drink before the age of 21, how are the supposed to behave on their 21st birthday? Certainly they would get quite drunk. This is the problem. Our system encourages underage people to binge drink; blatantly. It is far easier to get a bottle of strong spirits than it is to get some good beer. Not only is it less expensive but also much easier to conceal and get drunk quickly. Binge drinking is where most of our issues with underage drinking occur. The best way to curb this is to help give children a respect for alcohol. Be it beer or spirits, by sharing quality drinks with your children you can expose them to the other side of drinking, the great flavors, the companionship, and all the other good qualities of alcohol with out the goal of just getting drunk. Your kid’s friends certainly aren’t going to teach them this. As the Time article states, this is largely the way European countries handle this issue, and even though they have lower drinking ages they have about the same level of consumption and less issues with youth binge drinking. Part of the problem here are the many “social host” laws in this country. While I agree that there should be laws regulating this issue, I believe many of these laws are very over bearing and simply unconstitutional. First off any state that does not allow parents to do as they please in their home is wrong (provided it safe and sane). Second I simply believe many of these laws to be too broad; one should not be responsible for those things that they are not aware are occurring. We simply need to encourage our children to be socially responsible and I don’t think we need masses of laws to accomplish this, we simply need to give our children respect, and part of this may be allowing them to consume alcohol occasionally under your supervision. You should probably teach you kids to ride their bike first, but seriously teach your children about the great world that is beer. Allow them to try it, it is the only way they will learn to respect it and be responsible without having to learn from someone else after making mistakes. Now I don’t agree with the drinking age being 21 in the first place…but that will be left for another post.