Does Early Drinking Lay Groundwork for a Future Alcoholic? MomTalk Q&A

Moms weigh in on the pros and cons of underage, parent-supervised experimentation.

Many of us remember a classmate in high school who everyone thought was the luckiest kid alive. He or she was the one whose parents would allow parties at their home, provide alcohol for the kids and confiscate car keys so no one could drive. Somehow, in the thrill-seeking, indestructible teen mind, this was an ideal situation. Bad, dangerous behavior endorsed by a parent. Fast forward 20 years and your perspective changes.

It's a fact of life that children will be presented with plenty of opportunities to experiment. Make alcohol a taboo topic and you run the risk of rebellion. Allowing your child to imbibe, but only in the confines of your home and while you're present, could lay the groundwork for reckless behavior when not under your supervision.

So what do you do?

How have you, or how would you, address the topic of alcohol with your teen? Do you think allowing your teen a small glass of wine with dinner on occasion is wrong?

Here's what our Moms Council had to say.

Colleen Triana, Frankfort

"My children are toddlers so alcohol is not an issue at this time. I do know that I will NEVER offer my underage daughters alcohol. They have a lifetime after they turn 21 to drink, they don't need to grow up that soon. The notion that underage drinking at home "de-mystifies" alcohol or you can "control" it is ridiculous. Teenagers need parents, not drinking buddies."

Nicole Yaniz, New Lenox

"I just have preschoolers. I do NOT have intentions of offering my underage children alcohol. My parent's never did as well. They will have plenty of opportunities to do it behind my back as well as when they turn 21. Children need parent's ... not friends. Now, my husband's family has treated this differently but a lot of it has to do with his ethnic origin (Spanish...and first generation) so I am sure we may have some "discussions" about this in more detail later:)"

Mary Langer, New Lenox

"I am Irish and grew up being allowed a "taste" of alcohol on many occasions. It wasn't at all unusual to be asked to grab Mom a beer from the fridge. However, my parents NEVER allowed open drinking amongst our friends, we didn't even dare ask that question. Unfortunately when my oldest was just 17 her best friend's brother was killed by a drunk driver, so she learned a lesson very early on about drinking. Last summer we left our youngest (she was 19) home alone for the weekend. She asked if she could have a good friend stay with her so they could have a girl in movie night. We agreed, but before I left the house, all alcohol was removed. My daughter was very angry (maybe too angry) and the friend hasn't been back since. My thought is that in my home I am responsible, morally and legally...so the NOT ON MY WATCH theory is strong in my bones. Underage drinking with consent from parents is very dangerous and can lead to more problems than it is worth. Parents need to be parents when kids are young and work on their friendships when they get older...like over 25 or so."

Cheryl Burton, Frankfort

"I have spoken with both my teens about drinking and the side effects. They fully understand the importance of not drinking and driving. My son had a friend who allowed his children and ours to drink in his home. He felt that he would rather it be at home and monitor. My son had the opportunity to drink when I was not there and he chose not to and came home to tell me. I confronted the parents and they were honest and forthcoming. I was glad he did not take a drink, but maybe he will at college or not at all. We have to believe that the values we instill in our children will always be in the back of their heads. And even if they go off the beaten path, they won't drop off the deep end."

Patch's Moms Council addresses issues on the minds of parents, debates the pros and cons, and offers advice. Look for MomTalk Q&A every Wednesday at 1 p.m.


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