There are many opinions when it comes to how to best parent kids around the issue of alcohol. One of the prevailing beliefs is that it’s a good idea to introduce alcohol to kids and teenagers by allowing them to have a “small sip” from time to time when adults are drinking or at a social event. According to some studies, children are most likely to have their parents offer them their first sip of alcohol. In a study by the Pediatric Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), parents felt that giving children a taste of alcohol would either remove it’s “forbidden fruit” appeal or would taste so bad they’d never want to try it again.
A new study recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs finds that this way of thinking is actually detrimental. Researchers found that children who had sipped alcohol by the sixth grade were actually five times more likely to have a full drink by the time they were in high school and four times more likely to get drunk or binge drink.
It seems that offering minors a sip of alcohol at events like weddings or when parents are having a glass of wine with dinner actually sends mixed messages about alcohol. “Our findings underscore the importance of advising parents to provide clear, consistent messages about the unacceptability of alcohol consumption for youth…Offering even a sip of alcohol may undermine such messages, particularly among younger children who tend to have more concrete thinking and may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking several drinks.”