Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: How strict are you about mixing kids and alcohol?

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What sort of rule do you have about kids and alcohol?
Photo / 123RF
What sort of rule do you have about kids and alcohol? Photo / 123RF

It's an ongoing conversation: do children and alcohol mix? There are those who think it's irresponsible to let children even witness adults drinking and there others who think it is fine to pour youngsters measured amounts of alcohol.

Reader comments on Is faux beer for kids okay? revealed that some parents believe letting children have a sip of beer will teach them to drink socially and responsibly. Some readers also promoted the idea that giving a small glass of wine to children at dinnertime encourages a healthy attitude towards alcohol consumption.

It's possible that up to three adults considered it was acceptable to give cans of alcohol to the nine-year-old who was filmed stumbling about and slurring in a Hamilton skate-park. It's been reported that charges of "supplying alcohol to a minor" were laid following this incident.

Having consumed the premixed bourbon and cola, the little boy reportedly spent the rest of the day vomiting and narrowly escaped hospitalisation.

Evidently, it is routine for alcohol to be consumed by older school students at certain social gatherings. In 2011 alcohol was available at a "pre-ball party" held at the home of a "prominent businessman". Apparently, "beer, wine and champagne ... [were] served to about 100 people, including [school] students".

Since then, laws around teen drinking have tightened. While parents are permitted to supply their own children with alcohol, they now need "express consent" to give it to other "under-18s". Parents hosting teenage functions these days typically rely on text messages from fellow parents to determine who may and may not drink at their home.

While I've yet to experience parenting a teenager, I can report that my approach to children and alcohol was cautious from the outset. I didn't drink when pregnant although I can still remember taking a solitary sip of wine at a St Heliers restaurant and vowing to have a decent glass or two once the baby was born. It was my first taste of Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc and after six sober months nothing had tasted better.

But unlike those parents keen to introduce their children to the gentle art of drinking, I have no plans to offer my eleven-year-old sips of beer or small glasses of wine either with or without dinner. I don't even serve her spaghetti sauce containing red wine although the alcohol is said to evaporate in the cooking process.

On a less wholesome front, I have cooked beer-battered tarakihi for her once or twice. I may also have occasionally instructed her to retrieve a bottle of wine from the fridge in order to refresh the adults' glasses. Some will think this constitutes laziness and reckless parenting. Others will consider it a sensible use of human resources. And just because she's tall enough to reach the chardonnay, doesn't mean she'll be sampling any on my watch.

What are your thoughts on children and alcohol? Are small quantities okay for young ones? Do you allow your teenagers to drink?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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