Should Parents Drink In Front Of Their Kids?

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This is purely an opinion piece, so take my opinion for what it’s worth – a grain of salt if you wish.  Either you agree with me or you do not, and there’s no doubt what opinions are like (you know the old saying).

I was at a sporting event not too long ago, and I saw a man and a woman with two kids.  Both the man and the woman were drinking beer to beat the band, and I know had to go through $100.00 dollars (or more) just in beer orders to the hawking vendor!  They didn’t lose it or anything, but they were clearly tipsy and their kids just looked bored.  That same night, and many times before and since, I’ve seen parents drinking when their kids were present, but they weren’t overdoing it at all.

I’m an observer of human nature, and so I couldn’t help asking while observing these examples of human nature, whether parents should drink in front of their children.  Since this site extols the joys and virtues (some claim there are none) of beer, spirits, and the like, you might think we’d be biased one way, but you’d be wrong.  In fact, the only reason I ask the question is because I’ve seen kids and drinking handled different ways, with no apparent issues.  There’s probably no formula that’s definitively right or wrong.

So, should parents drink in front of their children?  It’s a fair question, because while we may extol what we consider the virtues of beer and spirits, and a person’s right to enjoy them, we DO NOT extol alcoholism, nor do we extol irresponsible behavior in front our our children!

When I was young, I know now that my parents drank wine and beer socially, but never to the point of inebriation, and NEVER drank in front of us kids.  When we became adults, we asked our parents, and they told us that they made the decision to not drink in front of us because they had simply been raised themselves to be keenly aware of the dangers of alcohol.  Several of my in-laws on both sides of the family had been alcoholics, and the damage it did was in the forefront of my parent’s minds when we were young.  They knew they could control their drinking, but didn’t want to “set a bad example for us.”   Fair enough!  We didn’t try to sneak around and drink when we were kids, and I’ve always been a responsible drinker as an adult (with the exception of college lol).  So, we might conclude my parents did something right with their decision.

On the other hand, I’ve known parents who drank in front of their children at every meal.  They weren’t alcoholics either, but grew up in an environment where having a glass of wine at meals was culturally acceptable.  Their kids didn’t drink, weren’t allowed to, and usually grew up to drink wine at table themselves.  The argument they make is that if they don’t hide it, and even possibly let their kids have a simple taste, their children will not see it as taboo and fall into some temptation to partake of the forbidden fruit (of the vine!).  When their kids were given a taste, they hated it, and thus had no desire to taste it again!  Fair enough!  That method worked for them.

And then, there are other categories out there.  There are the parents who don’t drink, won’t drink, and have no plans to.  Perhaps it’s because they see all beer, wine, and spirits as evil, or simply don’t enjoy it.  Strangely, sometimes the children of these same parents grow up to become alcoholics anyway! There are also those parents like what I observed at the sporting event I attended – who I think irresponsibly drink to inebriation in front of their children.  For me, that should be a definite NO NO, but that’s just my opinion.

How do you feel about the subject?  Should parents drink in front of their children, and if so, how should they handle their drinking?  Should they hide it or handle it openly?  Among those of you who are parents now, soon-to-be parents, or hope to be someday… if you enjoy a good beer, a nice cocktail, or a glass of wine, you should consider this question carefully now.  Beer, wine, and spirits can be very enjoyable, and I personally believe their gifts to use that should never be abused.  As my grandmother used to say – everything in moderation!  Because they can be abused to embarrassment, great pain, and even death, all parents should consider the question delicately, and with wisdom.

Cheers! Responsibly!

Topics: Everything On Tap

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  • The Croom Diaries

    Interesting read. I’ve thought about it myself – I’ve got a one year old. I bring home maybe 1 or 2 six packs per month and never drink more than 3 in one sitting, but I’ve wondered if I should keep any beer in the fridge as my children grow up to know what’s in there.

    My parents never had any alcohol in the house at all. More or less they basically taught me it was bad. They never came out and said, ‘hey people shouldn’t drink’ like they said ‘don’t you ever smoke cigarettes’ but they suggested how alcohol could lead to alcoholism and pretty much it scared me as a young boy. I remember one time we went on a trip to visit there old friends when I was 11 and my dad had a couple of beers at a couple of different places on that trip. I remember being really confused and upset with him.

    In reality, he was just back in that old environment he spent his 20s in and he felt like having a couple of beers. He had moved from there in his 30s, and as I grew up he never had any drinks at any time. No big deal but I was too young to understand. I think that’s something to keep in mind – make sure not to send mixed signals.

    I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I’ll probably stick to just having one beer with my meal. I think probably sitting in the easy chair drinking 2 or 3 sends the wrong message because you are just drinking them and that’s all they see. But if you have one with your meal, you’re basically saying hey this is an acceptable drink to have in replacement of tea, coke, etc. but only in moderation. Don’t drink just to drink.

    I think if I had gone to college with the idea that you can enjoy beer rather than it’s only point is to get faced then I may have had a different perspective. I’m sure I would have still drank heavily, but maybe it would have been a little different. Ultimately I think you just don’t want your kid drinking in high school, and sneaking around or thinking it’s okay to get drunk.

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      Thanks for the visit bro. We’re still trying to grow this site for FS, so I appreciate it. Yeah, what you do or don’t do in front of the kids will always be debatable. I drink in front of mine, but only a minimum, and never give off a “vibe” of it being taboo, wrong, or anything of the sort. For me, it’s abject drunkenness that should be avoided, and as long as I don’t display that behavior, I’m not setting a bad example. Why? Because for me, simple drinking is not wrong, just overdoing it, and that philosophy can be applied to food or anything else we do.

  • Matthew Miller

    My parents drank responsibly in front of me, meaning wine with meals, one beer after a long work day, or a drink or two when family visited. I never thought twice about it.

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