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Letting Kids Taste Wine

Why I Let My Toddler Taste Wine

Would you allow your child to try wine or bee? This question was posed in our community with a link to an article from Slate, entitled "Should You Let Your Kids Try Wine?" In the article, writer and dad Mike Steinberger argues that the healthiest way to teach your kids responsible alcohol consumption is to include them in family traditions that involve wine or beer. The unhealthiest way, he also asserts, is to make alcohol utterly taboo for your kids.

The woman who shared the story is one mom whose family no doubt has a lot of traditions that include wine — she owns a vineyard. She has given her own kids opportunities to taste wine, but says she would never supply them with alcohol for a party or even offer it to their friends at a casual dinner. Her family drinks moderately with meals, and she believes her kids should not be excluded from this or any other tradition they share.

Not all readers are sympathetic to Michele's perspective. Many point out that underage drinking is illegal and therefore something parents shouldn't allow. MeMe, for example, says that while she would try to be understanding if she learned that her underage daughter tried alcohol, she would never offer her daughter alcohol — under any circumstances.


A Law Worth Breaking?

Others, including a mom named Beth, feel that MeMe's approach doesn't address the underlying issue: kids are curious and will find ways to try alcohol, whether their parents know about it or not. She agrees with Steinberger that banning it makes it much more desirable and attributes binge-drinking among teens to the fact that alcohol is forbidden for kids. Like Michele, she advocates demystifying alcohol so that kids learn to be responsible about drinking — even if this means allowing them to taste it before they are of legal age.

Tracie, another mom who thinks kids should be allowed to taste wine, says this is far more accepted in Italy, where her family is from. However, she emphasizes that kids should only be allowed wine in very small amounts.

Even moms who don't want their kids drinking at all agree that their kids are likely to experiment at some point, regardless of what we parents do. And many, like Kelly, point out that it may be better for kids to do that experimenting under a parent's watchful eye rather than at a party or in some other peer-pressure-filled social setting. She says, "I just want MY son to have experienced the effects before he decides to drink with his friends so that when/if he does, he will make responsible decisions."

My own feeling is that teaching kids about alcohol helps them understand both its pleasures and dangers, and that tasting is a way to teach. So when my son, 3, recently asked for a taste of wine at dinner, my partner and I gave him a tiny sip. He didn't like it; most kids don't. But this little act of inclusion helped him understand that having a glass of wine with food is simply part of the nightly dinner ritual. Nothing more, and nothing less.

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Join The Conversation
JVL1 JVL1 4 years
This whole thing is absurd. Only in America would be think we have to justify to people who butt into our personal business about our personal decisions with regards to raising our children. First of all, there are MANY cultures in which wine is part and parcel of the religious and celebratory customs. Judaism and Catholicism come rapidly to mind. Second, there are quite a number of nationalities that include wine with their family rites of passage and holidays. For these groups, small children are given wine from the time they can sit at table with with a glass. The wine is mixed with water or a carbonated lemon/lime drink. The children are INCLUDED in the family celebrations (baptisms, holiday dinners, etc). No one gets soddenly drunk. What I noticed growing up myself was that the young people who drank themselves into sodden oblivion on a Friday or Saturday night were children who were FORBIDDEN alcohol as "that demon, rum" attitude that the self-important use to put down anyone who doesn't agree with them. Only in the USA did we have Prohibition (thanks to the Women's Christian Temperance Union and others) which gave rise to a powerful organized crime syndicate. Only in America did we have a religious group (the Puritans/Pilgrims) who demonized every aspect of joyful living. Only in American do religious evangelists (Baptists, Pentecostals) make the simple act of drinking a fermented beverage a "sin" (nowhere in the Bible does it say "thou shalt not drink wine"; it is the crimes that come from drunkenness that are decried, not the drinking of wine) . In point of fact, Jesus drank fermented grape juice--wine--and don't kid yourself that it was mere grape juice. For centuries, he Egyptians made beer and got drunk on it; the Hebrews made wine and got drunk on it. So, angst-ridden mothers and article writers who are digging deeply for a non-story, MYOFB. It is NOT your place to proscribe the behavior and parenting skills of other people. Allowing a child to taste wine as part of a family ritual, celebration, culture is NOT YOUR CONCERN!
CoMMember13610458931828 CoMMember13610458931828 5 years
I believe that there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine the problem is alcohol abuse. Growing up with alcoholic parents I knew I never wanted to be like them. At home we don't consume alcohol but if our children are ever curious about it I will allow them a sip of wine. That is my humble opinion. Blessings every one!
BrendaKinney BrendaKinney 5 years
It is actually LEGAL in the state of Texas to serve your own child alcohol at ANY age, I believe they must remain in your presence however. My children were always allowed a little bit of wine or champagne on special occasions. Some restaurants will allow parents to order alcohol for their children but they don't have to (even though it's legal).
JaneThompsonFeaster JaneThompsonFeaster 5 years
My brother and I grew up seeing my parents drink wine and brew beer. Alcohol was never taboo in my family and we kids were allowed sips every now and then. We grew up understanding that alcohol was for adults, but it wasn’t truly forbidden for us (in very limited moderation), so we didn’t abuse it as teens or adults. When alcohol was around at “teen parties” we attended, we didn’t feel the need to indulge as the other kids did. It was foreign and something new to try for them, but to my brother and me it wasn’t anything special. I have a 7 and 4 year old and I’ll raise them the same way so by the time they hit the parties with alcohol, they will know how to behave around it.
FayeVitali FayeVitali 5 years
Angel Valentine, did you really come on here to attack someone choice in partner??? Very rude!!! As for the drinking around your children, my opinion is you shouldn't get stupid drunk around your kids but a glass of wine or a beer is not a bad thing. Setting a good example about alcohol is probably the best thing you can do. If made taboo then kids are more likely to behave in a poor way when they do decide to try it. I also feel that if you are open with your kids about it they will be less likely to get in a car drunk or with someone else who is drinking because they will feel more comfortable to call you. I grew up in an Italian family where wine was on the dinner table and on occasion I got a spritzer...half wine half pop and rarely did I ever even drink it because most kids don't like alcohol, but it took the taboo out. Then when I was a teen it wasn't a big deal at all because it wasn't forbidden. So Yes, I would allow an OLDER child to take a sip...most likely would deter
ErinMoore24049 ErinMoore24049 5 years
Becky, sorry but before you bash everybody and everything, and then ridicule the article and its writer, you should do a little research first. Lest you look a fool. I have a 6 year old, and I have "whine Fridays" at my house, my friend comes over and we whine about the week over a glass of wine. Its great, lets me kick back and relax, my hubby watches the kids (6 yrs and 9 months (still nursing)) and he bonds with em while I de-stress. That being said (and ultimately starting a nursing/drinking internet fight) I have let my daughter try a sip of the wine I had. She had been asking for months, and I had been telling her no, because she is too little, she wouldn't like it, when she gets older, but she persisted and persisted, as 6 year olds do. I could tell it wasn't going to be a subject she would let go, so I let her have a sip when I had a particularly bitter glass. She was not impressed, and has not asked since. The world didn't end, she didn't go blind or cross-eyed, she didn't need to be exorcised, and the sky didn't fall. She got the answer to her very innocently asked question "what does it taste like" and now she knows. When she gets older, and she becomes curious again, we can have more talks about alcohol and the pros and cons. It doesn't hurt that my husband works at a company that installs breathalysers into cars because of DUIs acquired by the drivers. She knows too much drinking has punishments, and she understands that at an early age :) Some parents are comfortable with it, and some aren't. Forcing a parent who isn't comfortable with it, would be akin to forcing a child to take a sip when they don't want to.
ToriR29730 ToriR29730 5 years
I wouldn't give wine or beer to my toddler or even school-grader but I don't see a big deal in letting my son when he's a teen, have a small glass of wine or a beer in my own home. I live in Ontario, Canada and it is legal for kids to drink at home or other private property (like a cottage) so long as they are supervised by their OWN parents. I come from a family of drinkers - not alcoholics, that enjoy beer and wine and do so within moderation. Not one person in my family drives drunk, nor do we allow for underage drinking parties. I don't see the point in giving wine to a toddler or other small child but to a young teen who is getting more curious and more likely to try it with his friends, it might help remove the novelty of it all.
AngelPeterson AngelPeterson 5 years
Angel, partner may mean life partner as in same sex relationships and until everyone is given the right to get married partner is a term that is and will be used. I think it was clear that partner wasn't a business partner.
AngelValentine42141 AngelValentine42141 5 years
I was more disturbed at the end of the article where the author said that she and "her partner" let her 3 year old son taste the wine. Wine is not an evil, but partners now? When did this ever become acceptable. Does partner mean he or she? I was always properly taught that when you get married you have a husband or a wife and if you don't -- you are shacked up! A partner is someone you have are involved with in a business venture not a bedroom venture!
StephanieSanchez40776 StephanieSanchez40776 5 years
My father allowed me a drink of his beer when I was around 8. I took one sip and never touched the stuff again. I can count only a handful of times I saw my parents drink. Whereas, my husband came from a family that drinks at every gathering. Neither of us drink alcohol at all, but we do come in contact with those who do. And if I thought that one taste would turn my kids off the stuff completely(like it did me) then it would be tempting. I am not, however, going to go out of my way to expose them to alcohol. I will just stick with educating them on what it is(and side effects) and responsibility. If/When the time comes that the decide to drink(legally) then they will be fully aware of the choice they are making.
JessicaSalamon JessicaSalamon 5 years
Underage drinking is not against the law in Ohio, if you are at home and it is your own child. I was raised in a family where alcohol is at every event and there are more than a few alcoholics. I was allowed to drink as I wished at home and at family events. I was never interested in running out in getting drunk with my peers, it seemed silly to me. I never became an alcoholic or a drug addict despite there being a high rate of addiction in my family. I was never interested in smoking and have never smoked. Would I let me child drink wine? Well we kind of did at Valentine's day. We gave him juice and we had wine, he ran out of juice and grabbed for Papa's "juice". He was not enthusiastic and we couldn't help but laugh as he was trying to wipe his tongue clean. Alcohol was a vivid part of culture up until recent times, I don't see any reason to make a huge deal out of it.
MelissaTebow MelissaTebow 5 years
I would just like to point out that many states (Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming) all allow a minor to drink in a private home with parental consent. So to allow your children a sip of wine or beer at the dinner table in your own home in any of those states is not illegal.
CoMMember13610333423609 CoMMember13610333423609 5 years
I have and will continue to teach my children about wine and and why they make beer and wine and responsible consumption of alcohol. My husband talks about the wine making and e aromas and taste of wine with our kids (13, 10 and 7). Just like we do with all things in our lives. I this fosters the kind of relationship with my kids that enables them to feel that they can discuss the more 'taboo' topics with us rather than finding out from google or schoolyard. Regardless of how I choose to raise my kids, I respect very parents right to choose how they raise their children. Parents experience enough judgement from others with everything they do. We need more tolerance of each other!! Not to mention, where I live, underage drinking is illegal in public is illegal so under 18, you cannot walk into a bar. You cannot supply alcohol to anyone under 18 on your premises at a party however, it is not illegal to allow under 18's to sample alcoholic drinks in the home..
sabrinaconstantin sabrinaconstantin 5 years
I totally agree with the article. having being brought up in a an environment that allowed me to taste wine as a child during family gathering has taken the mystery out of alcohol and promoted responsible drinking during adulthood.. I have continued this tradition with my children.
SarahkayeFerguson SarahkayeFerguson 5 years
Also, these comparisons between a GLASS or SIP and then driving? Not a fair comparrison.
SarahkayeFerguson SarahkayeFerguson 5 years
Children should be raised the way the parent sees fit. Saying that, I was raised in a home where if I wanted to try something (alcohol or smoke a cigarette), I was allowed under my parents supervision. I know there are cons to it, but I think that it really affected the way I did things. I didn't rebel like most kids did, and I think in a way I had more respect for my parents. I had no desire to go to parties. I feel that by having that choice when I was at home with my parents, I didn't need to go out and do things like that. When my daughter is old enough, I will probably be the same way with her that my parents were. Now saying that, I feel that a glass is to much depending on age. I was allowed a sip (and I've loved wine my whole life) but never beer. To this day I can't drink it because of my first experience. Smoking, I took one puff and that was that. I couldn't stand it. I did smoke for a few months when I turned 18, but I honestly couldn't take the taste and that was it. I feel that my childhood experience affected this. I feel that parents today are far to judgmental, because admit it, you guys experiemented. So think about this question for a minute: would you rather your child go out and experiment with friends or at home where YOU get to supervise them? Just my opinion, but I'd rather I supervise, where I can control.
stefzimm stefzimm 5 years
I absolutely agree that everyone has the right to raise their child as they see fit. I also do understand the reasoning behind allowing your child to have a sip or two so that the alcohol doesn't seem "taboo", making them want it all the more, but bottom line is that I think people need to be fully aware and honest with themselves about any family predispositions to alcohol. I think that a great deal of people who drink moderately on occasions do just that, but I also know that many parents probably say (or even think ) that they drink moderately when they really drink more than most. Whatever the case may be--if there is any evidence of alcoholism in a family PLEASE do not attempt this approach. Sure kids probably will try drinking at some point in their teenage years as I did, and many won't like how it tastes at first. I didn't either but I went on to become a rip-roaring alcoholic by 21. Thankfully I'm sober today and have been for several years, but sadly many (many) in my family are not. Living through the nightmare, seeing what my family has gone through, and then working alongside other recovering alcoholics has shown me that this truly is a disease that is there lurking way before we ever take that first drink. Looking back I can see the destructive pattern from the first time I ever drank at 13 or 14. Alcoholism doesn't develop because one drinks too much--it's pretty much there from the get-go. I worry about my young daughters every day considering the genetics they are predisposed to. All I can do is talk to them openly about how devastating alcohol can be for them, but that they are allowed to make their own choices. I certainly won't pour the glass for them.
CherylChoukry CherylChoukry 5 years
Im sorry but Im against giving such young children even a sip of alcohol. I understand everyones perspective of letting them trying it out to kill their curiousity but then does that also mean we should be giving our kids a puff of a cigarette as well to also kill their curiosity about smoking??? Funny how alot of people think its ok to give kids a sip of alcohol but im sure everyone would be horrified to see a young child have a puff of a cigarette and to me they're both the same issue! Kids need to realise that there are some things that you can only do when you're an adult, smoking, driving a car and drinking alcohol are some of them
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