Author Topic: Kids and Wine  (Read 4336 times)

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Steph.A.

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Kids and Wine
« on: November 21, 2011, 07:26:36 PM »
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.

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KenveeB

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #1 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.)

Venus193

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2011, 08:16:29 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.)

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

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2011, 08:54:21 PM »
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

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2011, 09:11:58 PM »
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.

oz diva

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2011, 11:30:09 PM »
I let my kids have little sips. They say they like it, but they don't really. We don't make a big thing of it. I remember trying wine and beer when I was young and hating it.

You can take kids to bars here, so long as they are accompanied by an adult. I have no problems taking them wine tasting either, so long as they are well behaved. Many wineries have playgrounds or a box of toys.

Victoria

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2011, 11:42:13 PM »
I don't remember wine being a big thing at my house either. My parents would let us sip if we wanted to, and we could have a small amount of wine with dinner. We mostly didn't want to, because it is bitter after all, and an acquired taste.
We didn't have beer at our house regularly, but I remember being a teenager, and tasting a leftover can of beer. It was pretty awful.

A few weeks ago, we were at a BBQ with DH's friends, and one of them had a 18-month old girl who had a real fascination with daddy's beer bottle. He let her lick the mouth of the bottle, and apparently she really liked it, because she kept sucking on it. Her parents were actually quite cool about it, joking that when she got her first bottle at age 16 she'll say "hmm, tastes like home..."

PrincessInPink

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2011, 11:45:18 PM »
I should add that I'm not all that familiar with wine tasting, since I've never done it. I just think of it as basically an adult-oriented activity.

bigozzy

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 04:35:57 AM »
The thing is that kids in Continental Europe are welcomed in settings such as the OP described and are seen in lots of otehr places where alcohol is taken in moderation.

The key here is that they learn about sensible alcohol consumption in social settings. Meanwhile in the UK we have a huge problem with underage drinking, in particular binge drinking. This is still a rarer phenomenom across the water. Unfortunately the 'fashion' seems to be spreading.

My kids see us having a very occassional social drink in moderation. Just the other day, driving back from an event late on a Saturday night they got to witness a wonderful technicolour display of the effects of binge drinking including partial nudity and part-digested fast food!

Sharnita

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2011, 08:26:26 AM »
I also don't know that everyone in Europe or other countries where the apporach is as OP desrcibes are any more responsible about their alcohol consumption as adults.  Op is responsible. I am responsible but my guess is that there are plenty of people in both countries who are not - despite a variety of parental approaches.

I also think that the variety of religions in the US that prohibit alcohol is a factor that needs to be taken into account.

dawbs

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2011, 08:52:34 AM »
There are, without straying to far, also a lot of legal issues to it.

If I give my niece a sip of my wine, I could be charged w/ contributing to the delinquency of a minor (which would make end up unemployed and unemployable in my field).  It tends to add to the paranoia and the prevailing attitude--sometimes it's taboo less because of choice and more because other people choose to make it so.

(giving it to my own child in or not in my own home is a whole different set of rules, which I"m not going to touch.  ;))

LadyL

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2011, 09:23:39 AM »
I always liked the idea that reducing the alcohol taboo led to healthier attitudes about it.

Unfortunately the research does not bear that idea out. Specifically, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs in 2007 found that in the UK, 33% of 15-16 year old engaged in binge drinking, compared to 18% in the U.S. Denmark was the highest at 59%. Three European countries were lower than the US - Belgium at 10%, Italy at 12% and Portugal at 11% - and the rest were as high or higher.

The U.S. also has a low average age of first intoxication (only 8% got drunk before age 13) and the second lowest rate of recent alcohol use in 15-16 year olds out of the entire sample studied (33%).

You can read a summary of the report here:http://resources.prev.org/documents/ESPAD.pdf.

Thipu1

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2011, 05:19:29 PM »
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.

In the upper MidWest children are tradionally allowed in bars.  The places are known as taverns and, during the day and the early evenings they're places for family dining.  A number of pubs in the UK serve a similar function. 

I agree that wine-tastings are not appropriate for young children because there's really nothing there to interest a young child. 

A little wine or beer served to children at holiday meals doesn't bother me at all.  Of course, things can go a little awry.  When I was six there was a big party In a restaurant to celebrate my Grandparent's 50th anniversary. Cocktails with fruit were very popular.  As a kid who loved fruit, I went around the tables while people were dancing.  The orange slices and cherries in abandoned drinks didn't stand a chance.  Neither did I.  I was found fast asleep under a table.

realgonegal1

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 09:27:15 AM »
I'm British, but raised in the US.  My parents were the ones who collected car keys and let us drink in the basement.  They wanted to keep us close to home, and it worked.  Of course, that was in the dark ages - you could never do that today.  The legal liability is too severe.

I too was treated to sips of wine, sips of beer etc from the time I was about 8-9 years old.  I didn't like any of it, but it was part of being a grown up in our world.  I started drinking in public in Europe at age 16.  It was a social thing.  I don't ever remember drinking to purposely get drunk until I was in college.

I am old enough to have been annoyed when the US drinking age went from 18 to 21, because I was pretty close to being of age until the change.  Luckily, Canada was 30 minutes away and I went there to be treated like an adult again.

When I went off to college, I was pretty amazed at the serious binge drinking.  Some of my friends had never been allowed to drink, and they were the worst.  The "forbidden" environment that the 21+ drinking age created didn't help.  I think it's very telling that the biggest push to lower the age come from college presidents.

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Sharnita

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Re: Kids and Wine
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2011, 09:34:01 AM »
I don't know that the push from college presidents reveals anything but the fact that trying to enforce the law is a big pain in the rear for them, not that one policy is any better or worse for students.