To (Let Your Kids) Sip or Not Sip Your Alcohol—That is the Question

by Leah on July 10, 2013

child sipping wineDo you let your kids sample your wine, beer or mixed drinks? Many people do, figuring it will make drinking less taboo and therefore, less attractive to them when they become teenagers. A recent study found, however, that the earlier kids start sipping, the earlier they tend to start drinking.

Researchers followed 452 children for ten years, starting at age 8. They asked the kids the following questions: How old were you when you first tasted alcohol? How old were you when you had your first drink? How old were you when you first got drunk (or had three or more drinks on the same occasion)? Have you ever experienced a hangover or passed out from too much alcohol?

Surprisingly, 37% of the participants had tasted alcohol by age 8, and two thirds had tasted alcohol by age 12. By age 14, 19 percent of the kids were drinkers, and 3 percent had gotten drunk. By age 18, 96 percent of the group had sipped alcohol, 78 percent were drinking, and about one-third reported alcohol-related problems.

One of the researchers, John Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggested that “parents abstain from letting their children sample their drink.”

Previous studies have borne out the results of this study.

What’s your opinion? Would you let your kids or teens have sips of your alcohol, or not? Why?