On one side of the fence there are parents who feel that a small sip of alcohol now and then can’t hurt their children, and they cite European culture where they let their kids have small glasses of wine with sausage and cheese every day. These are the parents who’d rather have their kids learn to drink at home and have it be a ‘family’ activity than have them learn how to drink outside of the home, and some of them believe by making it a normal, every day thing you won’t have a teen who wants to binge drink.
But other parents don’t believe children should have access to alcohol at all, and recent research supports that line of thinking. There’s new data that shows the family-based model of drinking is out-dated, and even tiny amounts of alcohol in moderation has the potential to increase a child’s likelihood that they’ll abuse alcohol in the future.
A study of 561 Rhode Island students was done recently, and they found that the students who were allowed to have small amounts of alcohol before age 11 were four times more likely to binge drink in high school. It was concluded that letting kids have alcohol may send mixed messages about drinking. Another study found that parents who discouraged kids from underage drinking had kids who were less likely to binge drink in college.
No matter what your belief about underage drinking, alcohol has been found to be damaging to a child’s developing brain, with long-term side effects such as memory issues, learning, and decision-making.
Ultimately the decision to give alcohol to children is up to the parents, but research seems to support the idea that allowing children to drink has negative consequences. Given the research, would you let your child drink alcohol?