As I expected, the responses I received in answer to the question, "Should parents allow teens to drink at home?" were all over the board. They came in from parents, teens, young adults, adults with no kids, a few people who have suffered with alcohol related issues, a couple of youth professionals and even a couple of my relatives!
Here's an overview of the responses for your consideration. Tomorrow I'll share some tips for dealing with teens and alcohol based on the feedback I get directly from teens in the course of my work.
First the No's:
"No." "No!" "Nope." "No way, no how." "Absolutely NOT!!!!" and a resounding "HELL NO!!!!"
Next up, the No's with an explanation:
"No. Why take the chance that they may like the taste or the feeling it gives so much that they may want it too much. Also, kids brains are not fully developed, therefore they can be re-routed, so to speak, to go on to develop dependency issues. This has been scientifically proven. Plus, never forget...it IS illegal."
"For what it's worth, the kids I knew who were allowed to drink at home underage are now some of the biggest drinkers I know. I wouldn't say they are all alcoholics, but they definitely drink more than my friends who weren't allowed to drink at home. Personally, I think it's a mixed message . . . you can drink here . . . but no where else! And while it sounds logical to adults who are like, well at home there are limits and more safety . . . most logic like that is lost on kids."
Then the Yes and No's:
"Depends on the kid."
"Depends on the kid and depends on the parents! Especially their experiences with alcohol."
Next, the Yes's:
"Yeah because it makes it less special/rebellious (not that that is a conscious reason why I've ever done it, but probably is a subconscious reason for many that makes it more fun).. gives them a safe place to be, and encourages open and honest communication."
"Having lived in Germany for 8 years, it is done over there and thus it is not such a "big" thing to sneak around and drink illegally."
Then the Maybe and It Depends:
"Considering the liver isn't fully developed until you are 20, health wise it may not be a great idea. However, I agree with giving them a safe place and not making it such a big deal. I've seen that work quite well for some."
"Good point on the liver, but if they are going to drink they will find a way with or without our permission anyway."
"Here's my take: #1 it depends on the kid; #2 it depends on the health of the parents, regardless of alcoholic hx; #3 a little bit at home, after the age of 14, perhaps on special occasions, to me, demystifies the allure of alcohol and doesn't make it such a big deal but ultimately...see #1. I don't think alcohol is the enemy. The chaos within families is most often the key."
And then, the slightly sarcastic :)
"Yes. And they should let them smoke pot too. And they should encourage them to use heroin; maybe even inject it for them."
Then I posed the following question:
The research suggests that there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. That is a fancy way of saying that alcoholism may run in families. Based on this, do you think teens should know their family's history and experience around drinking and alcoholism before they are faced with making their own decisions around drinking?
"They absolutely should know if there is an addiction problem in their family. From what I've known, it does influence their decisions, especially if they were first hand witnesses to things they maybe didn't understand at the time."
"They absolutely should know their family history. I have already had this discussion with my teens and have been honest with them about the family as well as my own experimentation."
"Yes they should, kids become more comfortable talking about it with their parents, and learn that it's not about getting drunk, rather a social thing, so when kids get in college they don't go crazy because they are free to do whatever their parents didn't allow them to do."
Coming tomorrow ... Tips for Dealing with Teens and Alcohol
In the meantime, feel free to join in on the discussion or ask questionsby clicking on "Add Comment" below!