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Water, Juice, or...Beer? When Parents Serve Booze to Teens

Water, Juice, or...Beer? When Parents Serve Booze to Teens

"If I serve my teen beer and wine at home, where I can supervise and encourage moderation, he'll learn how to be a responsible drinker."

A new report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and published in the Wall Street Journal finds that parents of teens are their primary suppliers of alcohol, suggesting that private mantras like the one encapsulated above are becoming more commonplace. Nearly 6% of 12- to 14-year-olds—some 700,000 middle-schoolers—drank alcohol in the past month. And 16% of them got it at home from a parent or guardian, according to the report.

But parents might be distressed to hear another key finding from this study: serving up beer and wine to teens can lead to long-term problems with alcohol consumption.

Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, tells the WSJ: "This report isn't designed to say, 'Bad parents!' It's designed to say, 'Here's an issue you should pay attention to. When kids under age 15 start drinking and drinking heavily, they are about six times more likely to end up with alcohol problems."

Whether kids should be allowed to drink at home is a contentious topic among parents nationwide and in Circle of Moms communities, and the debate reveals some deep divides in the ways we parent teens. Some parents argue that they teach their kids how to read, write and swim, why not to drink responsibly? In a similar vein, some feel that if they allow their kids to drink occasionally at home, it will deter binge drinking. But another camp entirely says it's dangerous, illegal, and could lead to later alcohol abuse.

Shawn L. echoes the view of parents in the first camp when she says in the Circle of Moms of teenagers community" target="_blank">Moms of Teenagers community, "I'd rather have my son try something in my presence."

On the other hand, "C.P.", writing in response to a similar sentiment voiced in the Debating Mums community, says that, "keeping in mind that under the age of 21, it's illegal to drink, I would have to say that I would never ever allow my children to drink in my house if they are underage. And if I ever caught my children drinking at a friend's house under the supervision of a parent, I would call the police on that parent for serving my child alcohol without my parental consent. It seems like many of you don't feel the same way and I'm left wondering, why?"

There does however seem to be agreement over the inadvisability of offering alcohol to a teen's underage friends. As Jodi A puts it, "I would NEVER allow someone else's underage child to have a drink in my house (not with my approval anyway). I think that is MY decision for MY children, and I would freak out if someone else made that decision for my kids."

What about you? Are there any circumstances under which you would serve alcohol to your teen and his or her friends?

Image Source: geishaboy500 via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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EllynBerkbiglerSmith EllynBerkbiglerSmith 5 years
Are you all crazy? Alcohol is the gateway to other drugs! I am a social drinker but would never encourage giving it to minors out of respect for their futures. With facebook, twitter and whatnot kids who are even seen with a red cup in their hands are assumed guilty and have to prove to schools that they were not drinking. In our school you are not permitted to be within an arms length of someone drinking or you yourself can be issued a MIC. Kids can lose places on sports teams, student council, and chances at college scholarships. Does anyone want to be responsible for that guilt?
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