A perennially provocative question was raised this week in The Wall Street Journal: "Do parents who serve teens beer and wine at home raise responsible drinkers?" According to a recent government report, nearly 6 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds have had a drink in the last month. Of those, nearly half drank at home, and 16 percent got the booze from mom or dad. Research on whether parent-enabled drinking affects kids' binge drinking is inconclusive and contradictory, but some parents say that allowing kids to drink at home is a safer option that encourages moderation. Are they right?
No, this exacerbates teen drinking problems: These enabling parents ought to reconsider, says Buddy T at About.com. "Early onset drinking is by far the best predictor of developing alcoholism in the future." Studies show that kids who start drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to have problems with alcohol than those who don't start drinking until they turn 21. It doesn't help if parents provide the booze.
"Early drinkers end up with problems"
It's not that simple: This whole issue is murky, says KJ Dell'Antonia at Slate. Teens who drink alongside their parents are less likely to binge drink, but those who drink alcohol supplied by parents are more likely to binge. "As with nearly everything else to do with parenting, there is no conclusive right answer, in part because there are so many variables." Thankfully, my kids are still young.
"Should you teach your kids to drink?"
Yes, parents should teach kids to drink: "The reason most teenagers take that first sip is simply because they aren't supposed to," says Matt Kiebus at Death + Taxes. Instead of making drinking an alluring taboo, parents should teach their kids "the delicate art of responsible drinking." Sure, it's a fine line "between teaching responsible drinking and enabling a bad precedent," but it's a parental obligation to provide a guiding hand when it comes to alcohol.
"Teaching responsible underage drinking: A parent's obligation?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What political elites don't understand about Scotland's push for independence
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why gay people of color are still losing
- In defense of family dinner
- Do you need to be crazy to be the best?
- Is 'feminism' just another word for 'liberalism'?
Subscribe to the Week