Should You Let Your Teens Have Sips of Champagne on New Year’s Eve?

by Leah on December 29, 2009

champagneTo let your teens sip, or not to let them sip champagne on New Year’s Eve? That is the question.

Perhaps you’ll be sitting at home with your family, having a glass of champagne and watching the ball drop. Or maybe you’ll be having a party, or out at a party, or on vacation, where there’s drinking aplenty.

Maybe you’re not a parent, but you probably have an opinion, nonetheless. So do you approve or disapprove of teens sipping champagne along with their parents on New Year’s?

There are two camps: the loosen-up it’s New Year’s camp, and the it’s illegal and unhealthy to drink underage–even a sip–camp. Which camp are you in?

Here at drinking diaries, we have previously come down on the side of let your teen have a sip; what harm can it do? If alcohol is made to be forbidden or taboo, then it becomes desirable to a teen. Letting them have sips of champagne teaches moderation, and let’s face it, most kids have tried alcohol before 18. But there’s another side that’s equally compelling, as we read in a recent article on the Canadian newswire.

John Lieberman, director of operations for Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers in Malibu and Brentwood, California, is opposed to introducing kids to alcohol at home. According to Lieberman, “The studies show that the earlier someone has their first experience with drugs or alcohol or R-rated movies or sex, the earlier somebody does that, the more apt they are to have an addiction or a problem or consequences as a result of that behavior.”

Even in France, where the attitude toward drinking is perceived as laissez-faire, they’ve raised the drinking age from 16 to 18, due to increases in binge drinking and alcohol-induced hospitalizations.

Consider the words of Jeffrey Wolfsberg, head of a company that offers seminars to students and parents on drug and alcohol use and prevention: “When we look at who struggles with alcohol-related problems in college, it’s not the kids who go off with no drinking experience. It’s the kids who have established drinking patterns in high school.”

Interesting, but that wasn’t the case with me. I had no drinking experience whatsoever when I went off to college, and I went nuts. I had no idea how to drink; no idea of my limits. I was like a kid in a candy store.

So perhaps there’s no easy answer. When asked the question, “should parents let their teens have sips of champagne on New Years?” even Wolfsberg says maybe…maybe not:  “Both approaches are’s not so much what’s being done–it’s the meaning [behind it] that matters most.”

So what will your approach be this New Year’s Eve? What is your opinion?