Believe it or not, most adolescents and teens are exposed to alcohol for the first time through a close family member, often a parent. A sip of dad’s beer or a taste of mom’s wine usually serves as the introduction to alcohol. Many parents may think this is a harmless practice – but this is absolutely false. Children have developing brains and bodies that may be negatively affected by early drinking. Additionally, doing this sets a dangerous precedent, normalizing alcohol abuse from a very young age. Regardless of what your parents did with you when you were younger, nothing good can come from giving your children any amount of beer, wine or liquor.

Early Exposure Leads to a Host of Problems

There’s a reason that the national legal drinking age is 21. People under the age of 21 still have developing brains that may be negatively impacted by early alcohol abuse. Still, alcohol is the most widely abused substance among minors in America and can lead to the following problems:[1]

  • Brain Impairment
  • Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • Academic Difficulties
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Suicide
  • Unintentional Injuries
  • Risky Sexual Behavior
  • Alcohol Dependence

As you can see, there is not one single positive outcome of giving a child alcohol. Yet, many parents are allowing their children to drink from an early age. One study published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that as many as 40 percent of parents believe that letting their kids taste alcohol at home will protect them from engaging in risky abuse  later on.[2] This may follow a logical train of thought, but it’s completely false.

Research has shown that children who taste beer, wine or liquor before middle school are five times more likely to have a full drink by ninth grade when compared to children who never drink at all.[3] Other research has found that 90 percent of Americans who have an addiction to tobacco, alcohol or any other substance began using before age 18.[4]

Infographic about the impact of giving children alcohol before middle school.

An infographic showing that 90 percent of people with addictions to alcohol, tobacco and drugs began using before age 18.

Don’t Create an Environment that Promotes Alcohol Abuse

As much as parents should be concerned about what they are giving their children, they should also be concerned with the examples they set. Children who are exposed to alcoholism are more likely to become alcoholics themselves and have a host of other behavioral and psychological problems. You don’t want to set a precedent in your home that abusing alcohol is okay and acceptable. This also applies to going to family celebrations and driving home when you’re “a little tipsy.”

“Children whose parents misuse alcohol are three times more likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally abused and four times more likely to be neglected than their peers.”

The things children see and experience will most likely have an impact on their adult lives. If after a rough day at work you unwind at home with a six-pack, that behavior will become normalized to your children. Just like if you come home and decide to read a book and exercise instead. In fact, children whose parents misuse alcohol are three times more likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally abused and four times more likely to be neglected than their peers.[5]

Unfortunately, one in five American children live in homes with parental substance abuse. Being that it has been conclusively proven that this leads children to using drugs and alcohol themselves, this may create a destructive, multigenerational cycle. In addition to the impact they have on their children developing future substance abuse problems, parents who abuse alcohol at home are also often unable to provide basic physical, psychological and emotional needs for their children.

In short, it’s never a good idea to give your children alcohol. You aren’t going to reduce your 10-year-old’s desire for alcohol by letting him sip on your glass of wine during the holidays. For more information about alcohol abuse, alcoholism or addiction treatment, you are invited to contact Anchor Bay Luxury Recovery Center at any time. We are open 24-hours a day to answer your concerns. Call us at 561-708-5295 to have your questions answered.


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