A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. > Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange

Kids and Wine

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Steph.A.:
I hope I'm not opening a can of worms here, but one of the things that always baffles me when I'm in the U.S. is that alcohol is such a big taboo. I was just reminded of this this past weekend when I went to a winetasting where the parents brought their young (5 year-old) daughter and having an U.S American comment negatively about it. The child was also perfectly well behaved and a joy for all of us there throughout the evening.

I was introduced to wine and beer at a very young age - not drinking it, but being around it, my parents would drink some wine or beer with us kids around and taking us to wine tastings (where, yes, we were allowed to have a tiny sip, which we did not like).
Same as vacationing in France, a little bit of wine in a glass of water was considered completely fine for kids (from I think 5 or 6 years on?) or having some of the foam on top of dads beer. Again, not the preferred drink of any kid, but it certainly took the magic away.

 A glass of champagne at New Years Eve was fine  (in my family) after turning 14 and having had confirmation. And then, well, being in Germany, wine and beer were legal anyway at 16 years of age. (Please note that it's also legal for a child to have certain amounts of alcohol under 16 years of age, as long as the parents are present and okay with it.)

So, having had a childhood like that, and growing up to be responsible and educated about how much and when I choose to drink, I'm kind of leaning towards not making alcohol a taboo in my household.

I guess I just wonder why the views on kids "growing up with alcohol" diverge so much, and how you see it on the other side of the pond.

KenveeB:
I dislike kids at things like wine tastings less because of "oh noes, teh alcohol!" than because it strikes me as a grown-up event.  More invasion of children into every single sphere, so to have a child-free evening you have to go to the strip club or something.  :P

That said, I actually agree with you that the American way of turning alcohol into this big forbidden fruit is the reason binge drinking in colleges is such a huge problem.  Introduce children to drinking responsibly, don't make it into a Big Huge Deal to drink, and they'll grow up to be more responsible drinkers.  I never cared about going out to get wasted like most everyone else in college, because my parents would let me have a little whenever they drank growing up and it wasn't a big deal to me.

(With the very big caveat that you should only do this with your own children.  The people who host drinking parties for their teenagers "so I know where he'll be drinking" drive me crazy.  You have no right to make that decision for anyone else's child.  Not to mention that it's legal most places for a minor to drink with their parent present, but not for any other adult to provide alcohol.)

Venus193:

--- Quote from: KenveeB on November 21, 2011, 08:09:43 PM ---I dislike kids at things like wine tastings less because of "oh noes, teh alcohol!" than because it strikes me as a grown-up event.  More invasion of children into every single sphere, so to have a child-free evening you have to go to the strip club or something.  :P

That said, I actually agree with you that the American way of turning alcohol into this big forbidden fruit is the reason binge drinking in colleges is such a huge problem.  Introduce children to drinking responsibly, don't make it into a Big Huge Deal to drink, and they'll grow up to be more responsible drinkers.  I never cared about going out to get wasted like most everyone else in college, because my parents would let me have a little whenever they drank growing up and it wasn't a big deal to me.

(With the very big caveat that you should only do this with your own children.  The people who host drinking parties for their teenagers "so I know where he'll be drinking" drive me crazy.  You have no right to make that decision for anyone else's child.  Not to mention that it's legal most places for a minor to drink with their parent present, but not for any other adult to provide alcohol.)

--- End quote ---

I agree with this.  However, there are parents out there whose dealings with kids + alcohol are grossly irresponsible.

My friend Blanche comes from a long line of alcoholics.  As far back as she can remember it was a matter of pride in her family to be able to "hold your liquor" and children as young as three would be given full Dixie cups of wine at family events.  The adults in that situation would be arrested for this today.

Our laws about alcohol are crazy and based on scenarios such as the one above being feared as becoming the norm.

PrincessInPink:
Alcohol was always present at family gatherings and social events when I was a kid. I frequently got to try a little sip of something, and when I was older, like a teenager, I could have a small glass of wine or something on special occasions.

I wouldn't bring a little kid to a wine tasting, though, and wouldn't expect to see one there. I guess because the whole point of it is to drink alcohol. It's the same reason I wouldn't take a kid to a bar, but I would take them to a restaurant where alcohol happens to be served.

Venus193:
I don't think children are allowed in bars in the US.  And I would vote that they are out of place at wine tastings because wine tastings are adult events.

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