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Talk to Drinkaware about various issues surrounding underage drinking – x3 £200 voucher prize draw NOW CLOSED

(207 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Oct-13 11:12:12

Drinkaware would like to find out Mumsnetters' opinions on talking to your children about alcohol and underage drinking.

Here's what Drinkaware have to say, Drinkaware is pleased to be working in partnership with Mumsnet to raise awareness about the issues surrounding children and alcohol. By providing tips and expert advice to mums, we hope to encourage them to feel confident in talking to their children about alcohol in the pre-teen years, before the onset of peer pressure. For more detailed information on how to do this and to practice conversations using our interactive video, go to"

This thread will be open for one month, during which we will add new questions (with a total of three questions over the month) to the thread. All of the questions will centre around how to approach issues surrounding alcohol with your children.

Before we add a new question to the discussion there will be a prize draw for a £200 Amazon voucher for everyone who added has their comments and thoughts to the thread so far.


1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

Thanks and good luck!


dahville Mon 07-Oct-13 11:31:06

It is absolutely critical that we speak to our children about alcohol awareness; I don't want my kids growing up thinking that falling down drunk and being sick after drinking is normal or acceptable.

I think 8 is the right age for gentle conversations about alcohol, maybe after they've someone a bit tipsy. Definitely by age 10 I want to have had a good, serious conversation about it.

I would say drink is one of those like sex that has to explained in an age appropriate way, and they are never to young, when ours were little they knew that wine and beer were grown up drinks and they were not allowed to have them as they would make them sick. Obviously when they went to high school we had a more in depth discussion with them, about the effects of drinking, what it can do to their bodies and how drinking can effect their judgement of how to be behave in certain situations. We revisited these conversations more regularly when they were 15/16 and started going to parties, especially in regard to drinks being spiked, after this happened to my cousin. My teenagers are allowed to drink, they will have one at celebrations with the family. I'm sure they drink more when with friends but I have yet to see either of them drunk.

i think its likely by the age of nine a child would have seen alcohol in day to day life and be able to understand what it is and seeing it consumed in a responsible way would be important. at around nine to ten i would feel comfortable explaining

MoogDroog Mon 07-Oct-13 16:16:59

I think it is vitally important, as are conversations about other drugs. My DC are very little at the moment, but I'll talk about alcohol if the subject crops up e.g. What are you drinking daddy? I'll talk about it in an age appropriate way.

I think I'll start having the proper conversations around age 9 or 10. The attitude to alcohol in this country alarms me, and as someone who used to work in substance misuse education I understand more than most the potential dangers. I don't expect them not to experiment when their older, but I want to minimise the harm and risk.

We've been very open with the DCs about alcohol since they were 6 or 7, answering their questions honestly, and modelling a responsible attitude towards drinking.
I don't think there's an "ideal age" to begin conversations about alcohol, it needs to be part of an ongoing conversation about personal safety, risk and responsibility.

As with sex, drugs and the internet, I am not waiting for a particular age to start any conversations with my DCs, they have a constant drip, drip, drip of information (in a child friendly manner!) all of the time

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Mon 07-Oct-13 17:29:35

its crucial to talk to them about alcohol. DH and I drink and started talking to our boys when they were very young about it, age appropriate stuff , about 'mummy and daddies drink' as they got older we were open about it and added more detail about safe drinking and the effects on the body and mind. They went through a phase of thinking seeing someone drunk was funny so we tried hard to show that you can enjoy a drink without being totally drunk. Ds1 did the teenage thing about wanting to be grown up too early and drank in the local park shock got over it when he reached 18 and could go out he's 20 now and has his moments, more than I would like tbh but he is very aware of the risks. DS2 is 17 and has just discovered alcohol at house parties but is not a regular drinker, sure this will change when he hits 18 but again he is well informed and knows the risks and also what to do if someone does overdo it, safety wise. I would prefer that neither of them drank smile but do feel confident that the education we have given them will help keep them safe.

SmokedMackerel Mon 07-Oct-13 17:46:09

I don't drink, although dh does. I think he should be the one to talk to the DC when appropriate, since he is the one that does drink. I've never really thought what age that should be - depends on the child. I don't remember ever being given a talk as a child. I suppose it's something you need to play by ear. I was 14 when I first saw someone drunk, on a train, and I was shocked and scared. I've never seen a family member drunk. So perhaps the issues seem a bit removed from me, not something I would have really thought of discussing with a young child.

CheeryCherry Mon 07-Oct-13 17:52:55

I think it should be discussed as soon as it becomes topical - probably around the age of 5 would they know which drinks are for adults only. As they get older they can start being told the reasons why in an age appropriate manner. As soon as they go to high school it needs discussing more seriously. They see people falling over on programmes such as You've Been Framed, it looks hilarious. On soaps it seems normal to meet in the pub, drink yourself silly. The whole subject needs a huge discussion.

ButThereAgain Mon 07-Oct-13 17:54:31

I try to make conversations with my children about excessive drinking continuous with a wider conversation about commercial pressures affecting their lifestyle choices. They face constant pressure from the alcohol industry to drink too much just as they do from food manufacturers to eat junk food. I have emphasized to them that the Drinkaware initiative is not wholly independent from the alcohol industry. Drinkaware is a figleaf that the industry hopes will help with its continued to avoidance of meaningful regulation.

The BMA says "involvement of the Drinkaware Trust in providing public health communications is a significant area of concern. This form of industry social marketing is counterproductive because industry responsibility campaigns are less effective than ones from other sources, keep messages
in a commercial comfort zone, and distract attention away from more effective measures to regulate alcohol use ... The BMA believes that
health promotion, such as guidance and advice on responsible drinking, should only be provided by a genuinely independent public health body, and not through industry-sponsored social marketing, or by individual drinks companies."

Web initiatives like this thread do of course have a motivation to push the sensible drinking message, but more fundamentally their goal is to protect the alcohol industry from profit-harming regulation. Strategically Drinkaware is a tool that complements alcohol marketing, so this thread feels not unlike threads that get us all to talk about Cif etc to give the product a boost.

TheFutureMrsB Mon 07-Oct-13 17:59:11

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I have already spoken with my eldest son about drinking, he is 12, as it's something I thought was important to bring up. He is in secondary school now and of course there is peer pressure from his friends to do all sorts of silly things so alcohol was something I felt that needed to be spoken about. Children around my area tend not to hang around on the streets anymore which is great as I think it is then that alcohol plays a part, I know when I was younger it certainly did, but now they prefer to go to youth groups where they play on the computers/football etc.

I have spoken to my son and probably first had the conversation about alcohol when he started high school, so about 11, but he say's he doesn't like the taste anyway!

Secondary school age is about the right time I don't think children any younger would have thought about alcohol and going drinking with their friends then anyway, well I would hope not!

Very important however my experience is those that had parents who were very strict and had zero tolerance rules were often the kids that ended up paraletic once off the leash!

And I would say age wise about yr8/9

SalBeautyMoll Mon 07-Oct-13 19:09:41

Didn't really need to talk to dd until secondary school. I think she is fairly switched on about how uncool it is to come into school hungover, or sometimes actually still drunk.

AndHarry Mon 07-Oct-13 19:16:43

I think it's important to talk about alcohol consumption and not make it a taboo or 'everyday' topic. DH and I don't drink alcohol so our DC aren't exposed to it much. My DS is 3 and we've already talked about it as it's come up and he's had questions e.g. last week a drunk man was shouting at us and DS wanted to know why he couldn't talk to him so I explained that the man had had a drink that wasn't very good for him and made him do silly things. We'll continue to discuss it in an age-appropriate way, as we do with the other topics mentioned.

DigOfTheStump Mon 07-Oct-13 19:23:39

It's never too early todtart. If alcohol is part of your family's life, even in safe, moderated amounts, then tell your kids why that is appropriate, and why excess is bad.

Make conversation an every day part of life, that way the tricky conversations will be easier, if you already have a natural dialogue.

My kids accuse me of turnng everything into a life lesson. I reckon that means they listen!

whattodoo Mon 07-Oct-13 19:28:56

My DD is 5. She has seen us drinking a glass or two on special occasions. I think its important that she sees alcohol as something acceptable and enjoyable, but a 'grown up' drink. We've never had a conversation about it as such, I imagine 7/8 would be the right age to start talking about limits, dangers etc.

Theincidental Mon 07-Oct-13 20:02:38

It is crucial to discuss alcohol in the home.

I'm not sure on an age that it should be discussed, I suppose it depends on the maturity of the child, but before secondary school certainly.

I was terrible with teenage drinking and I wish I'd felt comfortable discussing it with my parents or that they had broached it.

missorinoco Mon 07-Oct-13 20:31:22

I think I will have the conversations between 8-10 unless the children ask questions earlier. My oldest has an idea that alcohol is a grown up drink, it is in the house, although we mainly drink when they are in bed, as the idea of running around after small children having had a drink does not appeal. It is however, visible, and open to questions.

themummyonthebus Mon 07-Oct-13 20:33:57

I think education about safe drinking is an on-going conversation with your children and it's never too early to start. My parents have always drunk responsibly and usually in an environment where their friends were also drinking in a pleasant social atmosphere. There was no drinking to excess, just drinking as a social lubricant.

I was also allowed to enter this world via very weak shandies from about the age of 14, which I am convinced made me a lot less impressed at those teenage parties with cheap, poor quality alcohol where the goal was simply to get smashed.

14 is probably too late these days, but i intend to follow a similar path as my parents in the hope, and expectation, that my children will be as sensible as I was when the offers of cheap cider/vodka start.

camtt Mon 07-Oct-13 21:16:27

We've been talking to our children about alcohol since they were old enough to ask what we were drinking on a Saturday evening. It's a subject that comes up from time to time and we try to discuss it with them in a factual way, also helping them to understand the broader issues around drinking, health issues, financial issues, getting yourself into dangerous situation issues. They are quite receptive although I doubt that they will stick with their stated intentions never to drink at all.

Roundles Mon 07-Oct-13 21:38:02

My parents never really spoke to me about alcohol, didnt go/take their children to pubs and I was never aware of alcohol being in the house. Aged 17 and at a new school, new friends and a very steep learning curve!! Really wish my parents had at least made me aware of booze and its effects, would certainly want prepare my children properly.

Sip of wine at Christmas dinner, foam from Dads beer etc, and a bit of a discussion, introduction and will certainly be telling them about my personal experiences, good and bad!

rowrowrowtheboat Mon 07-Oct-13 21:50:54

I think it is very important to discuss it, and be open with why people drink, and the disadvantages. As I have two daughters, I am more concerned with the impact of alcohol on the decisions young people make and the actions they take, than the physical effects of alcohol (which are easier for a youngster to understand).

My eldest already understands alcohol means you can't drive as she sees my husband leave the car at home instead of driving to work, on the rare occasion there is something on after work. I think as sups he grows up, she will understand the biological effects of alcohol on the body. How do I talk to her about how drinking alcohol may lead her to do or say things she wouldn't do sober?

I think we will slowly build the information and we will always answer her questions appropriately. I'd hope by 8years, they would have a reasonable understanding, and if not, instead of questions being led by my daughters, I would introduce the topic.

Ikeameatballs Mon 07-Oct-13 21:56:26

I think it's like those other big topics in that it's important to be open and honest and answer questions in age appropriate ways. My children know that I drink alcohol but very rarely see me do it. They know that when I have some friends round we might drink wine and that if I good with friends I might drink wine.

What I have been impressed by is how well they have got the message that you don't drink and drive, to the extend that ds 4 asked me if I was allowed to drive the car as I had been to the pub the evening before. This was at lunchtime and I had had one glass of wine the night before!

I remember drinking small amounts of alcohol with friends when I was underage. I think what made the overall risk of harm relatively low was factors outside of the alcohol; we all had similar parental boundaries, we were all good achievers at school, none of us had access to other substances. In different circumstances the same amount of alcohol could have led to problems.

Turnipvontrapp Mon 07-Oct-13 23:05:53

Probably from 8 onwards. We already talk to our boys about it. Think its important to practise what you preach though.

The older they get, the more detail you will need to discuss with them.

GiraffesAndButterflies Tue 08-Oct-13 06:17:43

how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?

I think they should have an awareness of alcohol from the get go, with good behaviours modelled for them. So a glass of whiskey gets left out for Santa, but only a little one, because too much is bad for him! In the same way as they are aware that too much junk food is bad for them. My parents taught me to pour drinks from about 6, with an emphasis on knowing that a drink should not be too strong, and that there was a difference between my drink (could have as much as I wanted) and theirs (they were moderating how much they had). I think it helped me a lot later on that I was already aware of some fundamental alcohol safety points.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 08-Oct-13 07:03:15

It is important too talk about alcohol before they each the "party" age (about 12/13). Guidance on what/how much is safe to drink and a promise that if they ring home for help they will not get in trouble, even if they're somewhere they shouldn't be.

TeaAndCakeOrDeath Tue 08-Oct-13 08:31:29

I agree with most other posters - towards the top end of primary school for the start of a (repeated, more in-depth as they get older) conversation, perhaps after a wedding etc where there may have been alcohol to 'toast' - explain that a drink can be a nice 'treat' for adults but there are limits, how it can effect behavior and decision making and the effects on the body (hangovers etc)

For us, as half the family are tee-total (Salvation Army) then there is already an awareness around drinking and they'll know there are two 'types' of drinks (alcohol and soft) served when we all get together, the reasons some people dont drink (prior alcoholism and religious beliefs)

Steffanoid Tue 08-Oct-13 08:36:26

I don't remember my parents having a very frank and honest conversation with me or even a gentle one, I used to get very drunk from about 13 or 14.
I think educating your children is important and we will probably talk to our lo when we think he can understand it so again around 7 or 8 but ultimately I think sometimes it doesnt make a difference at all I think it can be the individuals peers that can have an effect, there was a large drinking culture within my friend group, and still ia. at that age I didn't know better but ive now grown out of it and havent drunk since I was 23.

My children are as yet too young though 3 year old does want to try our drinks and we tell her no, it's for grown ups only. When the time is right - maybe from about age 7/8, well start to explain the effects alcohol has, the importance of moderation to but I suspect it might be for. 11/12 that the real curiosity and wanting to try will start

Willemdefoeismine Tue 08-Oct-13 09:30:31

We haven't had a conversation as such but we are quite an open family. The children know we drink alcohol. We talk about related issues such as drink driving and binge-drinking in the context of things we see on the news/TV programmes.

DS (12) vows that he's never going to touch a drop! I have suggested to DP that we introduce a very, very small glass of Prosecco to Christmas Lunch for DS - we were definitely introduced to it very slowly but surely from around the same age.

I went to parties and was drinking the odd glass of cider from when I was 14 (and this was from a very middle-class background going to middle-class parties with high achieving cohort) but didn't go on to become a big teen drinker at all. I would go so far as to say that I was virtually tee-total until I hit my mid-twenties (I've made up for it since though grin)!

I would like to think that my DCs will follow by example and drink in moderation.

CMOTDibbler Tue 08-Oct-13 09:42:33

I think its very important to talk about alcohol in an appropriate way from a young age. Unfortunatly fil and bil drink too much, so we have talked about how they get a bit silly and wobbly

ShatnersBassoon Tue 08-Oct-13 09:54:14

I think it's the general chit-chat that helps children understand issues such as alcohol and drugs. Don't make anything a taboo subject, be factual and honest. I think alcohol is the easiest of the big issues to tackle because it is an everyday thing for many families.

Spirael Tue 08-Oct-13 09:58:34

It's never too early, you just need to tailor the conversation to be appropriate for the individual in question, whether they're 2 or 20 years old!

We've already had conversations with DD about many of the topics above, without bogging it down with too much detail. We aren't big drinkers, but she knows we drink alcohol occasionally.

DD is very curious and she asked to have a sip of my wine one time. I let her her the tiniest sip and, as I expected, the response was "Yuck!". So that solves that problem for the next few years. wink

I don't see the point in making alcohol a forbidden fruit. It's just going to make DC curious and want to try it, away from their parents knowledge as they're being 'naughty'.

Better to just give them access to an appropriate amount alcohol in a safe, controlled environment where they learn to enjoy and respect it in equal measure.

weaseleyes Tue 08-Oct-13 10:00:03

I think drinking permeates our culture, so it's important to talk about it from the word go. Of course, many people don't drink, but it's still a constant reference point in tv or humour.

NotCitrus Tue 08-Oct-13 10:25:48

Very, and like relationships and consent and sex, needs to be done from an early age - my eldest is 5 but knows some drinks are only for grown-ups because a little bit is nice but too much makes you silly and then sick.

Peer pressure will be more of an issue once they are 9 or so, I guess.

imperfectparent Tue 08-Oct-13 10:41:38

I have always taken any opportunity to comment on alcohol problems whenever a situation has arisen on TV, in films or when you might see drunk people on holiday for example. Also, growing up in a family it is normal to see adults drink at family gatherings. Children hopefully learn that there are harms associated with alcohol and boundaries need to be observed.
My family is now in the teenage phase and I do feel that the right attitude prevails. However, there is never any room for complacency and alcohol is part of the mix of other concerns I have about the dangers and temptations that go with these years. You just do your best.

WowOoo Tue 08-Oct-13 11:30:24

We've been talking about it every time it's cropped up in conversation.
I think we'll continue to talk and before he reaches the age where he might be tempted I'll have a light hearted but serious chat.

My eldest knows that alcohol is a drink for adults only and that it can give you a terrible headache and a bad tummy if you drink too much.

HomicidalPsychoJungleCat Tue 08-Oct-13 11:49:48

We have had alcoholics in both sides of our families and so are very eager to ensure our two (8 and 3) grow up realising it is something to be enjoyed amd respected rather than abused. For our dd in particular I think it is crucial to make sure she realises the dangers in being out of control and not necessarily with people she can trust.

We have always been open with them about our own (moderate) drinking. They have seen both of us tipsy on rare occasion, but mostly just enjoying one small glass of wine with dinner or in the evening by the fire. DH is continental and he and his sisters were allowed a small glass of watered down table wine or beer on Sunday lunchtimes and I think we will do the same once they get to about 11/12 so that the taste and effect of alcohol are not alien to them nor an absolute novelty.

We have always been open to discussing any big life topics ike sex/drugs/alcohol at an age appropriate level and we will continue to do so. I'm totally happy to admit my experiences, (obviously not intoo much detail in certain topics [Blush] ) both the bad and good in all of these with my kids...though I suspect as teens the will no longer want to hear my stories! grin

SpiritOfTheBuskersCat Tue 08-Oct-13 12:28:02

"Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I don't really think there is ever a 'time' to sit them down and talk to them about anything, to me that notion is archaic. I'd like to think that we will tackle problems as they arise, and questions factually as and when they are asked. We have the odd drink at home so hopefully DD will see us drinking responsibly as long as she doesn't come home from her nanas on a rare evening we are pished I've been there and done it all anyway, and I never remember being 'talked' to about it, but I do remember never being allowed a taste, and never seeing my parents drink anything.

BadlyWrittenPoem Tue 08-Oct-13 13:14:37

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I think it is important to talk about it and unless both parents don't drink the topic should be able to come up naturally and gradually with information given at an age appropriate level in the same way that healthy eating and the dangers of too much of certain types of food comes up. Obviously the risks of too much alcohol are different to those of say excessive salt consumption but I think it should be presented in a similar manner i.e. a small amount is okay but there are risks if you have more than recommended. I would say that presenting alcohol consumption as a "normal" rather than illicit activity is wise as it hopefully reduces the likelyhood of children going out secretly drinking with their friends which is probably more likely to lead to harmful drinking habits. But this is all just theory as my eldest is only six!

Tyranasaurus Tue 08-Oct-13 13:24:27

I think casually and from an early age- long before they'd start thinking about drinking

elastamum Tue 08-Oct-13 13:27:18

I talk to my 2Dc about alcohol regularly and DS1 (14) is allowed the occasional cider at family dinners, although he doesnt ever drink more than 1 or 2.

The other day at a family party he removed a bottle of Jack Daniels from a group of 12 year olds, who had swiped it from a parents house. He came and gave it to me as he thought they shouldnt have it and was worried what might happen if they drank it as they were planning to.

I was very proud of him smile

I don't think a huge 'talk' is a good thing, it should be something that evolves with normal teaching of behaviour, morals, self respect and control.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 08-Oct-13 14:03:13

It should be part of the day-to-day family conversation, normal and open to all members of the family. If a topic comes up that is potentially inappropriate to younger members (eg what, exactly, are the dangers that being drunk makes you vulnerable to?) then that topic should be returned to when the younger membersarenot present. But not in a serious, lets sit down and discuss important ishoos way.

Madratlady Tue 08-Oct-13 14:21:27

I think it's vital to discuss alcohol with children and be as open and honest as is appropriate for the age. Certainly making alcohol 'bad', 'forbidden' etc will just create a mystique and leave them unprepared when they do try drinking for the first time.

I don't think there's a certain age when the topic should be brought up but any questions should be answered and it's likely to come up naturally in conversation if children see their parents have the occasional drink. I'd say it's more important to have conversations about the dangers of drinking with children from around secondary school age, it sounds young but many 13/14 yr olds can and do drink. I know I was from not long after I turned 15. Another very, very important thing that should be pointed out is that some drinks are very strong, i.e. a barcadi breezer is pretty weak but a glass of barcardi with a mixer is not so much. It's something I learnt the hard way.

I also think it's a good idea to let teenagers have the odd drink at home and let them try different types of alcohol if they want, because their own home is a safe place to do so. That's from my own experience as my parents only ever drink wine or beer and my mum in particular was quite anti spirits or alcopops so I never encountered those at home and certainly wasn't ever allowed a drink at home. I think that was partly why as a teenager (16+) I had no idea how to handle drink and quite often ended up drinking too much and either passing out or getting myself into potentially dangerous situations.

I hope that by being open with my children and allowing them the odd drink at home from their teens then they might learn a sensible attitude towards alcohol and be able to cope and act safely when they start going to parties or out drinking.

I think it is absolutely essential that we talk to dc's about alcohol.
The more they are aware the easier it becomes to handle when they are legally old enough to drink.
I spoke to my dc's from around the age of 8/9. They were aware that alcoholic drinks were for adults only, but were also aware as they became teenagers of the pitfalls of drinking too much and the harm/danger it can cause if they don't drink responsibly.
Having then been in a car accident with them that was caused by a driver who was over the limit taught them the dangers of this and also the consequence of ever being irresponsible with drinking.
Thankfully it seemed to pay off and both are very sensible in their approach to drinking.

Lalunya85 Tue 08-Oct-13 15:14:55

I'm not sure whether having "the conversation" is a good way forward. Kids will get in touch with alcohol whether we want them to or not.

More important than sitting your kids down is to live by example, and help them build a healthy relationship with alcohol which they can fall back on when they see their peers experimenting with it. Show your kids that it is possible and absolutely fine to enjoy a nice drink; but that it is equally possible to stop after one or two. Show them that investing care into making your drink actually taste good - an appropriate glass, a good-quality spirit and mixer - is worth it, and that quality is more important than quantity.

I would approach alcohol in the same way I would deal with food. Nothing is "verboten" - alcohol is not a bad thing - but everything is consumed in its appropriate context, with pleasure and in moderation.

MadMonkeys Tue 08-Oct-13 18:54:11

My dcs are too young yet for that sort of discussion and I'm not really sure at what age to bring it up. I guess it is like other subjects in that it very much depends on the child,their level of maturity and the likelihood of exposure to drink related problems. I imagine that once they reach senior school age at the latest they will need some awareness.

littlemonkeychops Tue 08-Oct-13 19:23:16

Obviously it's important to talk about it, our DC are too small to start yet but we will once they are old enough to be aware of it. I agree with posters who have said it should be an ongoing dialogue rather than a big one -off chat so it's not seen as a taboo.

ButThenAgain that's interesting i dudn't know that drinkaware was a product of the industry i assumed it was totally independent.

mindgone Tue 08-Oct-13 19:33:14

I can't remember at what age I started to talk to the children about the effects of alcohol, but it was quite young, regular, and age appropriate from then on. I remember telling them that it can make you do things you wouldn't normally want to do, eg. kissing a really horrible girl! This idea worried them greatly!
They have known my 'drinking rules' for when they are older, for a long time too. Ie. never drink on an empty stomach, carbs are best.
Don't mix your drinks
Have occasional non alcoholic drinks too
MOST IMPORTANTLY: be with people you trust!

There is a lot of alcohol in our house and I have never worried about them helping themselves, they're just not that bothered by it.

WrongendoftheSTIX Tue 08-Oct-13 22:21:06

It is definitely an important discussion to have with your child. We will discuss when it arises rather than have a full sit down discussion. I hope to create a honest and open atmosphere where any question whether sex, drugs or drink related will be answered to best of my ability.

My Dd is in an unusual position where she is unlimey to see alcohol being drunk at home. I loathe the taste of all alcohol and whilst DH drinks occasionally, even I haven't seen him drunk since uni!

WrongendoftheSTIX Tue 08-Oct-13 22:21:27

It is definitely an important discussion to have with your child. We will discuss when it arises rather than have a full sit down discussion. I hope to create a honest and open atmosphere where any question whether sex, drugs or drink related will be answered to best of my ability.

My Dd is in an unusual position where she is unlimey to see alcohol being drunk at home. I loathe the taste of all alcohol and whilst DH drinks occasionally, even I haven't seen him drunk since uni!

WrongendoftheSTIX Tue 08-Oct-13 22:21:41

It is definitely an important discussion to have with your child. We will discuss when it arises rather than have a full sit down discussion. I hope to create a honest and open atmosphere where any question whether sex, drugs or drink related will be answered to best of my ability.

My Dd is in an unusual position where she is unlimey to see alcohol being drunk at home. I loathe the taste of all alcohol and whilst DH drinks occasionally, even I haven't seen him drunk since uni!

WrongendoftheSTIX Tue 08-Oct-13 22:22:01

It is definitely an important discussion to have with your child. We will discuss when it arises rather than have a full sit down discussion. I hope to create a honest and open atmosphere where any question whether sex, drugs or drink related will be answered to best of my ability.

My Dd is in an unusual position where she is unlimey to see alcohol being drunk at home. I loathe the taste of all alcohol and whilst DH drinks occasionally, even I haven't seen him drunk since uni!

WrongendoftheSTIX Tue 08-Oct-13 22:22:23

It is definitely an important discussion to have with your child. We will discuss when it arises rather than have a full sit down discussion. I hope to create a honest and open atmosphere where any question whether sex, drugs or drink related will be answered to best of my ability.

My Dd is in an unusual position where she is unlimey to see alcohol being drunk at home. I loathe the taste of all alcohol and whilst DH drinks occasionally, even I haven't seen him drunk since uni

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Wed 09-Oct-13 09:11:50

you don't get more chance of winning if you post more do you? grin at wrongend

SaltySeaBird Wed 09-Oct-13 13:26:31

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I'm not a big drinker and grew up with an alcoholic parent. DH drinks a few beers at the weekend but that is it really unless we are entertaining in which case we get a couple of bottles of wine in.

I'll be open and honest with my DD from a young age about alcohol. I don't want to have a sit down conversation about it but I want her to understand that it is primarily a drink for grown ups, that too much affects the way you think and act and I'll explain when it is appropriate to drink it.

I'll be happy for her to try a bit of wine with a meal probably as young as 12 years old (just a watered down sip) as I don't want her to see it as taboo. I'd rather she drank safely than tried to hide it and drank in a dangerous way.

I was allowed wine with meals, or even to try spirits at a fairly young age (about 12) and I hated it. It was just something I was allowed if I wanted it. I've never really been a drinker and thought getting drunk and stealing alcohol was a bit childish when I was a young teen (after all, it was on the meal table, it wasn't a taboo thing).

I want to teach her that all food or drink that is bad for you is something to have in moderation, and to understand how the body works and what is healthy. I think chocolate and energy drinks should be treated in the same way too.

SaltySeaBird Wed 09-Oct-13 13:29:34

I should add, the one thing I want her to take away and know is that she must never, ever get in a car with somebody who has had a drink. Never. Equally, she must never do it herself.

No matter what time, where she is or in what state we will come and get her, no judgement, no repercussions.

Neither me or DH will drive if we have even had a sip of alcohol. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a safe limit as it effects you so differently depending on what you've eaten, how tired you are etc.

randomnc Wed 09-Oct-13 14:33:41

I'm not sure how I will handle it, to be honest, not least because my attitude has hardened during pregnancy and due to other breaks from drinking (dry January, working holidays, spending time in the US where norms are different).

When not drinking it becomes much clearer how prevalent it is and how it's easy to get sucked into drinking a little too much every day and having a constant minor hangover. So, I'm not sure how to warn children against what effectively constitutes normal drinking, other than by being haranguing and overbearing and putting frighteners on them. If 'normal middle-class drinking' is at dangerous levels then they will need additional tools. The issue is that it's addictive, widespread and socially expected - so using common sense might not be enough.

We always have alcohol in the house and both DH and I regularly drink wine.
I have a 15 and 17 year old. I began talking about alcohol when they were around 11/12. When they started being more independent and going to parties I continued to talk to them. I try to encourage an open moderate attitude to alcohol. I've described the effects it has on people, loss of inhibition, possible aggression in people who are normally quiet, spiking of drinks and so on. I don't want it to be taboo, I believe they need to learn how to manage in a society in which alcohol is ever present.
They have been allowed a small drink on special family occasions about 14. My 17 year old has a drink about once a week, a beer or cider.

ChasedByBees Wed 09-Oct-13 15:36:25

I think from my own memory, alcohol stories were much more prevalent from senior school onwards so I'd make sure that my DD was alcohol aware from about 8 onwards. I think others are right when you say you have to address it on an ongoing basis though. First with, 'you're too young' but leading to the effects of alcohol and drinking in moderation. I'd probably not push the total abstinence route (my parents did and I don't think that worked). Also as I like nice wine, it would be hypocritical. I think it's important to encourage them to drink slowly and savour the drink and know when to stop. All of those things are incompatible with cheap alcopops so hopefully it would discourage them too.

To me its a really important topic of discussion between us and our boys. our eldest is 12 now so its something we are dropping into conversation now and again. It really worries me about under-age drinking. I couldn't talk to my parents about anything and I want to make sure my kids don't have that problem.

I think it in this day and age with the drinking culture of youngsters being what it is, it's imperative to talk to our children about it.

I don't think there is a set age at which to have these discussions, as with sex ed etc but it should be brought up at home if they see us have the occasional drink. I have spoken to my DC about it in general, DD is 6 and knows that adults do have a drink from time to time but I have also told her the dangers of drinking too much without going into huge detail. With my older dc who are 9 & 12 I have also discussed the wider implications and the fact that some people are too dependent becoming alcoholics and the dangers of getting into situations you wouldn't normally be in because of drinking too much.

tinypumpkin Thu 10-Oct-13 10:42:46

I don't know about ages as my DC are young (3 and 2). I would agree that 7, 8 or 9 might be a good age. It is so important to have such conversations and be honest. I want my DCs to be able to talk to me (as I was able to talk to my parents) so don't want to make it a taboo subject at all.

B3nnyB0y Thu 10-Oct-13 10:48:26

For me it's not a separate conversation: I do drink and alcohol is in the house regularly. DC will grow up to know what mummy and daddy do and that you can't be silly with drinking. It's a much more French approach/attitude. We hope to lead by example

Mamafratelli Thu 10-Oct-13 12:34:27

I have already talked to my dc's about alcohol in everyday conversation. They are 6 and 4. We went to a fire station open day and there was a car from a fatal crash in which an 18 year old sadly lost his life. We talked about how you must never ever get in a car with someone who has had a drink. I think for now we will carry on as we are dropping advice into the conversation when opportunities arise until. When they are a little older, probably year 6 we will have a serious conversation about alcohol and how to enjoy it responsibly and safely.

Bubbles85 Fri 11-Oct-13 07:57:32

I think it's absolutely necessary talk about alcohol as kids do listen to their parents more than we give them credit for. Without our advice all they have is their friends. I would say the first few years of secondary school are key.

BruthasTortoise Fri 11-Oct-13 08:07:31

Alcoholism has had a terrible effect on both my and my DH's family and we are hyper aware that this is an important discussion to have with our sons. I think especially with young men their is often "competition" between themselves as to how much they can consume. I want my boys to know that they can enjoy a drink if they want to but to never feel they have to compete with anyone and for them to know that the "mum and dad taxi" will always be available should they find themselves in a vulnerable position. This lesson has been drummed into them since they were tinies - if you're in trouble, phone home.

CheekyChimpsMummy Fri 11-Oct-13 10:27:18

I think children are very aware of what alcohol is from a very young age. Partly through what they see at home (& knowing that a glass of wine or beer is a drink for grown-ups only) I think they also see adults drinking at family restaurant/pubs etc and also countless TV programmes that are set in and around pubs.
I believe in honesty and openess, whether its about alcohol, sex, drugs, online safety and you should discuss it openly on a 'need to know' basis. I wouldn't shy away from any questions DS asks and will always let him know if things will be explained further as he grows older

unquietmind Fri 11-Oct-13 10:55:13

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

We did with ours early as they were exposed to alcohol misuse in another setting (biological parent). I think its important to talk about early but also to lead by example, if younger kids see people saying one thing about alcohol but doing another it can be really misleading for them or cause them worry about what will happen. After my children's experience in early life, I am conscious not to do things which might upset them or cause them worry, as for them people drinking is very significant. We promote safe and appropriate alcohol use but they prefer to think that they will not drink in the future (we are aware this may change)

My eldest (17) is very open to the discussion and always was, he is not a fan of drinking or drunk behaviour after his experiences. My 16 year old is similar. My 15 year old has not expressed a clear opinion and my 13 year old calls it dirty beer but due to her disabilities she is not aware of the full things regarding alcohol. Without their personal experiences I would have discussed it around Y7 when they are exposed to older children who may discuss drinking, or perhaps just before. We think its very important especially how accessible alcohol is and how many people misuse alcohol but it is unseen by others, but perhaps seen by youngsters.

sallyc06 Fri 11-Oct-13 13:00:27

I was brought up by a mother who drank alcohol every night until she was paraletic, she died very young and I am sure this contributed, consequently I am extremely aware of the perils of drink. I like an odd one occaisionly, but not on a regular basis. I believe it is extremely important to discuss alcohol the same way you do drugs. Children, whether boys or girls must be aware it only takes a couple to impare your judgement or to become dangerous. For example I live in Bristol and there is a harbourside and lots of rivers, from time to time there have been reports of younsters drowning follwing a night out, I can only assume they drunkenly fall in and cannot get out. I often discuss alcohol with my children and feel reassured afterwards, maybe it just gives me comfort, following my personal experiences with my mother.

Gemma10 Fri 11-Oct-13 13:34:45

With children starting to drink as young as 10, I would say any age appropriate conversation would be good, starting around 8 or 9 and then getting more specific when they are young teenagers e.g. 14, when their peers are probably starting to get drunk in the park.

NannyPlumForPM Fri 11-Oct-13 14:24:47

The trouble with bringing it up too young means that it can 'normalise' drinking. I plan on talking to my daughter about it gradually rather than having a specific sit down discussion.

That said - when she reaches secondary school, around aged 13-14 (depending on how 'young' she seems) and the peer pressure from friends then I will probably pull some information together to try and teach her about the dangers of smoking and the dangers of excessive drinking. I feel being fully informed about the lasting damage is as good a deterrant as anything else.

I want to talk to her before she gets too rebellious but probably won't do it from a point of view of 'I don't want you to drink' more, 'here is the information, here are the dangers' etc.

I think it is very important to talk to them before they get skewed information from peers, but would avoid too much information IYSWIM.

HTH Mumsnet!

Rarecherry Fri 11-Oct-13 14:29:04

I imagine i will be having an alcohol conversation around 11-12 then more in depth at a later date when the time seems right. Me and DH don't drink alcohol, but lots of our family do, so I if questions are asked sooner we will answer them.

SundaySimmons Fri 11-Oct-13 15:07:02

We have just had an outraged parent complain to the media about their child being suspended from school because the child had a bottle of shandy as their beverage of choice.

Yes, it is regarded as being a non alcoholic drink but is this not the first step in encouraging children to progress to alcohol?

telsa Fri 11-Oct-13 19:23:19

I have been open and honest about alcohol as long as my children have been able to speak and understand, I do not think it should be made a taboo or a secret practice. The children see us drink sensibly and occasionally and we talk about the effects of constant and excessive drinking now and again.

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 11-Oct-13 20:39:34

Waiting until 2ry/12/13 is too late. Especially in a teetotal family.

You need to have these conversations while they are still open to parental influence, and before they start thinking we're boring old farts and soooo 20th century. And before they come under peer pressure from kids that you do not - and may never - know.

HootyMcOwlface Fri 11-Oct-13 20:51:34

I think its important to have the conversation and I'd do it when kids are about 10 or so. My parents were pretty good role models, and I remember my Dad talking to me about not overdoing alcohol, but overall they were quite relaxed about it (e.g. letting us have a small amount on a special occasion when we were older) and I think it worked for us. I'd have a similar attitude with my kids.

Snog Sat 12-Oct-13 12:03:04

I think its important to talk about these things all the time as they come up. This is better than having "The Big Alcohol Lecture Talk".
How responsible kids are with alcohol is imo more about how they have been parented on a day to day basis since birth than whether or not and when you give them the facts on alcohol - they get these at school anyway.

GreenShadow Sat 12-Oct-13 18:16:38

Having 3 DSs, the eldest being 21, one 19 and youngest 14, we have already had to deal with this.

I'm afraid I can't remember when it was first raised with DS1 or 2, but would guess it was around late primary.

DS3 would have been much younger I think, as he was aware his oldest brother drinking. Luckily, he is sensible and if anything it has put him off drinking. When some of his 'friends' started drinking and smoking recently, he dropped them and started hanging out with more sensible friends.

I think the 'talk' needs to be done in different stages. Introduced when quite young, but gone into more detail when in early secondary school - may be when, like DS3, they come across contemporaries drinking.
Of course this depends on how much your DC tells you about what they and their friends are up to.

I think it's highly important to have an open atmosphere and for my kids to feel as if they can ask any question. I will definitely be including alcohol issues in my things to chat about agenda.
I have no expectations as to the ages this will happen. I'll be led by their attitudes and peer groups as they grow up.

GetKnitted Sat 12-Oct-13 20:21:44

Its a bit tricky for us so far, because we don't drink and the dc are so small (2 and 5) that they haven't really come across it very much. He has come across the phrase drunk in various news items, songs etc, and we've talked about it very generally. On the one hand I certainly don't want him to start judging other people based on whether or not they drink. On the other, it's certainly not something he'll do with my knowledge before he's 18. Life is tricky isn't it.

MrsPnut Sat 12-Oct-13 20:26:08

I have a 16 year old who has twice been in a situation that we deemed to be very dangerous but she has learnt from it and never drunk to excess since.

stephgr Sun 13-Oct-13 01:33:38

I do think it's really important and I would probably talk about it when my children are around 10 years old but if they come into contact with alcohol earlier then I'd start earlier. So for example if they watched something on TV where alcohol was part of the storyline or if they saw someone who has drunk, I'd start a discussion then rather than wait.

I think it's so important.
My parents weren't big drinkers and if they went to a pub it would literally be once or twice a year so we grew up in a bit of a bubble and when we hit our teens went quite quite mad.

I think I would be happy to let a 16 year old have a beer or two in the house or at a family party/occasion as if it's not 'Forbidden Fruit' then hopefully they would learn that drinking to excess is not all that fun.

It'll be an ongoing thing but I do like the French attitude to drinking and letting children have a glass of wine with dinner. It's quite civilised and promotes a healthier relationship with booze.

clubnail Sun 13-Oct-13 12:47:32

We are open with DC about everything. DS is only a toddler so too young to discuss alcohol with, but our approach is just to be open and honest about everything. We aren't big drinkers here, never drink in the home, but our parents didn't either, and we both have sensible attitudes to alcohol.

amazinggrace2001 Mon 14-Oct-13 11:54:02

Neither I nor more my husband drink, haven't done for five or six years now, mainly because dont like the effect plus don't seem to be able to metabolise it anymore. We do talk about alcohol to our two children, one, 11 and the other,7 in a matter of fact way. My husband is very anti- alcohol and I have a more tempered view of it but don't like how it seems to be an integral part of adult culture and socialising in Britain. I wouldn't be strict about whether our children could drink it or not when they are older, as think that could cause them to rebel. I find that for all the talk of 'binge drinking teenagers' in the press, a lot of young people don't drink as much as I remember doing when I was a teenager! Our daughter,11, reckons she's not going to bother drinking when she is older but we will see!

bucksmum71 Mon 14-Oct-13 14:12:49

Very much lead by example here, moderation and not a taboo. The kids are teenagers and I let them have the odd beer or glass of wine with dinner but it's not made out to be a big deal so hopefully they wont feel the need to go out and binge - that said I've taught them to sleep in recovery position if they do drink and if they are with friends who have drunk lots to make sure they are in recovery position if asleep!

k8vincent Mon 14-Oct-13 16:06:20

Given that we live in a culture where binge drinking is seen as acceptable and normal for teens we feel it is important to talk to our children even now at 7, 5 and 3.

Of course, it is age appropriate, but we have talked about it because all 3 have asked to try Daddy's beer. We have discussed why people can't drive after drinking alcohol - mainly as a result of asking why one of us wasn't driving the car. We have also had alcohol discussions because we have seen people with cans of beer on the pavement and the children have asked about it.

It is really important that our children see us having a sensible approach to alcohol and that they know they can discuss it. The focus of our conversations have always been on how drinking too much alcohol can mean you make bad decisions and aren't safe.

bromwichn Mon 14-Oct-13 19:07:38

Our little man is too small to have the talk at only 6months old but I think once he starts talking notice of what his mum and dad drink we will make it clear that it's grown up drink and just mention it when we have some in front of him. I believe that children find it awkward and don't always pay full attention or take you seriously if you have 'a talk' but if they know from a young age and have it reinforced over and over again it will become taken for granted that it is for grown ups. Saying that I will probably have a little chat or a quick reminder with him before he goes to his first teenage party so 12 or 13.

LaVitaBellissima Mon 14-Oct-13 19:19:58

I agree, that it needs to be a gradual conversation, but as someone who did spend my teenage years drinking on the beach on a Friday and Saturday night, I really hope I can prevent my children from doing this.
Hopefully by having a strong and open relationship with them and talk of the dangers of drinking in excess.
I am particularly worried about social media, and the Internet, and childish mistakes being put on the net for life.

Letitsnow9 Mon 14-Oct-13 19:46:46

Very important, it doesn't have to be a big sit down and talk issue, talk about moderation as they are growing up

Hopezibah Mon 14-Oct-13 21:48:33

I think it is almost never to early to talk about those tricky topics - if things are generally dropped into conversation from an age when kids can understand, then hopefully it will filter into their minds and help shape their own opinions as they will know how you feel about those things.

We try not to do it in a 'preachy' kind of way but more matter of factly - especially if the topic arises from a situation / something they see or hear or is asked by them.

My kids have always from a really young age been very 'anti' smoking for example and I think other topics will slowly filter in too.

IncaAztec Tue 15-Oct-13 14:50:24


1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I think the best age to talk about alcohol is around 6 to 7 years old. Preferably by discussing the difference between a drink with a meal and binge drinking. This means you get in first before peer pressure and can explain 'normal' adult alcohol drinking and binge/negative alcohol drinking (i.e. street drinking) to children. It is very important to discuss alcohol, not just the negative side, but why adults drink alcohol (i.e. the social side).

Ruby6918 Tue 15-Oct-13 18:14:13

im 44 and my mum had a busy social life but in the seventies all the parents had nights out and socialised and some house parties, myself and my sister were used to alcohol being around were not introduced to us socially and were told it was a big persons thing, but from what i remember there were no massive situations which made me feel fraid or un cared for, we did however both start drinking at about 13 to try it out with peers, i have gone through the whole alcohol thing with my son and he is 21 now and has got himself into trouble with the police as a result, he still seems too immature to me to be able to drink responsibly but thats more a sign of our society than anything else, it all seems to be a competition now to see who can get the drunkest boys and girls and who can get into the most trouble, and there are so many programmes on the tv these days and also u tube which glamorise this behaviour too. my daughters are about to head into teens and im afraid for them, ive tried to explain the dangers and im not sure if anything will work, because it starts normally due to peer pressure and i live in an urban area and there is quite a bit of under age drinking about, if we look at mediterrean culture where families cook, eat and share some wine at the table in a relaxed atmosphere, i think this is the key, it enables alcohol to be a sharing experience along with good company and enjoyment. Our society has created a drinking monster.

johnworf Tue 15-Oct-13 22:04:35

Children definitely learn by example therefore it's important to show them how to drink in a responsible manner.

When my older children (now in their 20's) were young teenagers, they were allowed a small glass of wine with their Sunday lunch to take away the mystery surrounding alcohol.

Now they are older, 2 of them drink sensibly and the 3rd one doesn't drink at all.

BlackberrySeason Wed 16-Oct-13 00:02:08

I think alcohol discussions should be age-appropriate any ongoing from as soon as they know what alcohol is.

BlackberrySeason Wed 16-Oct-13 00:02:21

Ie around 7

kateandme Wed 16-Oct-13 01:38:21

its a very hard things to want to believe children can be protected from this and getting into it.but it seems they cant.espceically socially it is happening younger and they seemto knowmore younger.
if you wait too long i found they get to those dreaded years where they dont want to talk about anything!!
i think whilst talking is important its also good for them to see a good realtionship with the parents/carers drinking.
they follow us more than we trhink.and even subconciously our own attitiude towards things like drink ingrains into them.
children often want to tyr it yong.if there is a party and they see all the cool adults doing it.should we stop them.i dont think we should pounce on them mkaking a big thing.perhaps let them know that this is only a drink for the adults.let them no it could make them poorly if they arent old enough to understand the effects.
sometimes parents just have to be right.carrying that on throughout other things helps them to knowand respect what you saydont belittle or make them feel small.just state the facts.they understand more than we think.
i cant pin opint an age.depending where you live,how and who you live with it must depend on what you see and gaige from them and how they are growing up.
there has to be a cut off age to start discusing it though,.but i found it simply came up from things like drinking wine at crhistmas and why they didnt.for one they snoook a sip and said it was "yuk!!"
be sensible.
also if you do happen to know or have someone at home with a drink probelm which can can be very very hard so this needs further nurturing.

florencebabyjo Wed 16-Oct-13 14:57:35

We have always been open with our children about alcohol and have never found it necessary to hide it. They have seen us enjoying a glass of wine at dinner and when they have asked if they could have some we have allowed a little wine in a liqueur glass with water with their meal on a special occasion from about aged 11. Younger children have been allowed to dip their finger in to taste a particular drink, and we have never said no, but at the same time would point out that they were only allowed a taste until they were older. Our thoughts are to demystify alcohol and take that attraction to it away by not making it sound like drinking is something to aim for. My eldest is now 19 and does go out with his friends. He has a healthy attitude to alcohol and hasn't gone off the rails with it as some of his friends have but can take it or leave it. I would like to think that it is because we have made alcohol a healthy part of adult life to be enjoyed sensibly as part of a meal and respected. This seems to be working so far!

lottietiger Wed 16-Oct-13 16:29:48

ill be starting early with my son as we generally have a glass of wine with dinner, we are not big drinkers,a bottle lasts a few days so it should make it simple to talk about taking alcohol easy and not over indulging. I personaly hate losing control of myself so dont like getting drunk, plus its an sure way for someone else to to try and take contraol of your actions.

sharond101 Wed 16-Oct-13 22:10:11

We plan on having a no boundaries attitude to difficult conversations like alcohol, drugs and sex so we will be open and honest about the risks from when DS can understand, maybe 10years old?? We don't have alcohol in the house, I don' drink at all, DH has an occasional beer in company, that will be encouraged to lessen the desire for excess but not until he is legally of age.

Babycarmen Thu 17-Oct-13 12:27:25

I think it is very important especially with kids trying new things younger and getting into a lot more trouble younger! I would probably approach the subject about age 11-12 before they start secondary school (in Scotland) but will have to wait and see what my daughter is like at that age as obviously all children are different.

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 15:49:22

Hi everyone, thanks for posting your thoughts about the first question. We've done the prize draw and congratulations to HootyMcOwlface who has won a £200 Amazon voucher. We'll be in touch shortly. We will now add a new question for you all to get engaged with for which there will be another prize draw.

GetKnitted Thu 17-Oct-13 21:43:02

Not drinking before 16 is sensible medical advice. After all, they are not saying it is illegal they are just saying that alcohol is bad for your body and particularly a child that is not yet developed, should not be drinking it. What next, we tell them they should prescribe more calpol because the kids like pink goo?

ScientistwithoutWhiteCoat Thu 17-Oct-13 22:08:41

Which medical experts recommend no alcohol before 16? Is this on the same lack of evidence as the recommendation that pregnant women shouldn't have even one glass in case they can't tell the difference between one glass and a binge?
Will they change the formulation of many child medications to remove alcohol, eg oral thrash treatments that are 1% alcohol?

Banning alcohol totally until 16 will just encourage experimentation in secret, which is way more dangerous than a glass on special occasions. All kids I've known who got into problems drinking were the ones who felt they couldn't tell their parents as they'd be judged for having drunk, whereas those who were open with their parents tended to mirror their parents' drinking - if the parents were never seen drunk, the kids tended not to get too drunk.

Encouraging confidence to talk to others and in particular negotiate sex without the need for dutch courage is probably key, but not sure how to do that.

MoogDroog Fri 18-Oct-13 09:53:26

I think the idea of actually introducing alcohol from an early age is ludicrous. Why? To what end? It is a drug, pure and simple, albeit a legal and socially acceptable one. We would not do this with any other drug.
People underestimate the physical harm that alcohol can do, not just with long term heavy use. It's effect on the developing brain must be taken seriously, and if medical experts suggest 16 then I guess that is the best age to work with.
I'm under no illusion that young people will not experiment with alcohol (and other drugs), but I feel as parents our job is to encourage a healthy attitude and full possession of the facts (in an age appropriate way). The thought of consciously weaning them on to alcohol I find abhorrent, much the same as if we were discussing methamphetamine or cocaine.

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 18-Oct-13 12:21:47

What medical experts? Kindly provide me with appropriate sources before expecting me to accept such a sweeping statement.

Very very hmm

Banning alcohol pre-16 is IMO a recipe for secret under-age drinking, and for binge-drinking.

Seeing as Drinkaware is a drinks-industry organisation, I can't help being very hmm at the 'advice'. After all, I have just done exactly what I bet they want: said that young people should be allowed to drink.

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 18-Oct-13 12:24:30

Why 16, anyway? Our bodies do not complete puberty until about 20 or more? If young, developing bodies are endangered by any amount if alcohol, surely it should be banned until 20 or even older?


Tinlegs Fri 18-Oct-13 12:32:50

My mother is an alcoholic, as is one of my sisters (and possibly one more) so my children have had graphic illustrations of the dangers of alcohol, much as I have tried to keep it from them. We both drink, but they know our rules, only in company (not just the 2 of us,but with guests / when out) and not to excess. They have seen merry, tipsy people and know that two glasses of wine and their Mum thinks she is one of the Abba singers. They find this both amusing and embarrassing. Their Dad has a higher tolerance but they have, only once, seen him bouncing off the walls.

But these occasions are infrequent and part of celebrations or large occasions. They know we keep alcohol in the house, enjoy wine as a pleasure but do so responsibly, in the same way we enjoy chocolate or cakes. They are aware of the dangers of addiction, both medically and emotionally. They have been brought up being shielded and warned at the same time. We used to run a pub! They also know that the drinks industry is about making money.

One child can't stand the taste or smell. The other (14) has had the odd sip of beer or wine and likes the taste but is wary of it.

pertempsnooo Fri 18-Oct-13 13:03:08

My children have an alcoholic relative therefore it was unavoidable to discuss alcohol when they were relatively young. They have seen the worst side of it and hopefully that will make them wary of it.
If a child wanted to taste wine or beer then that's ok, we had a small glass of wine with Sunday dinner from about 10 years old. The attitude of the parents is obviously crucial and in the UK where habitual boozing is accepted and binge drinking is a bonding ritual I worry all the time for my childrens' future welfare.

defineme Fri 18-Oct-13 13:16:06

My youngest children are eight and I've just repeated simple points to them: 2 drinks is enough and that's how much we have (Mum and Dad); never drink and drive; being drunk is stupid and dangerous.
These things have come up at places like: multi generational parties; being in town in the evening (many drunk people in our city centre); when they've heard adults telling 'funny' stories of people being drunk (I've pointed out to them how much they hate it when they're sick so it's best not to drink too much for that reason alone); when we're eating out and one of us won't drink because we're driving.

I have relatives that owned a pub and I was shocked at how early children were encouraged to join the drinking culture of their small rural town...perfectly normal for 13 yr old to be given several drinks at a family party, they were surrounded by adults whose only leisure activity was drinking at home or in the pub: it's just so limiting.

I started drinking alcohol secretly with friends at the age of 11/12 and was very excessive in my teens and early twenties. I want my kids to avoid the dubious alcohol related situations I frequently got into and that's why I'm so vocal about it with them. I don't share with them about that now because they're a bit young!

I think 16 is reasonable to start having an occasional drink, I haven't read any evidence to support gradual introduction from an early age. I think binge drinking is a UK cultural problem and introducing kids to alcohol at a younger age(like the French do) isn't going to reverse the celebration of inebriation that is so common here and frowned upon abroad.

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"
My mother died of alcohol abuse we lived with her so my kids witness it,i dont drink and my kids now think anyone who drinks will die,i have explained obviously but im pretty glad that they know the damage it can do.
2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"
absolutly not they are children! who are we to poisen our babies? i would never ever encourage my children to drink,having said that when they are older i would not judge them for it as its their perogative but as a serious tee total i feel strongly anybody who feeds young children alcohol is a disgrace

THERhubarb Fri 18-Oct-13 13:46:52

1. What I have learnt is that there is no set age to talk to children about the issues surrounding alcohol. My kids see myself and dh drink and we have spoken to them about alcohol. I readily admit to them that for me, it tastes nice and I enjoy drinking it. More often than not they see us drinking with a meal; for relaxation and for socialisation. They know that we never drink and drive, that we never drink alone and that we don't often drink during the week.

I do think that setting an example is important but you also need to have the conversation about what alcohol does. So I have explained to both of mine (aged 13 and 9) that too much alcohol can make you do things and behave in a way you would never normally do. I've told them how it can put people in danger and make them vulnerable.

They have seen us drunk on occasion and we were able to talk about why that happened, how they felt about seeing one of us drunk, how we felt the next morning and how the drink made us behave in an odd way. It's never our intention to get pissed in front of the kids but it sometimes does happen (recently at a wedding) and I think that allows us to talk to them about it at length, so they can see how easy it is to get into that state and they can also see how it can make you do silly things. In fact I think it helps if they have seen drunk people otherwise they might think that it would never happen to them or that being drunk is somehow fun.

I think the current drinking age at 18 is unrealistic. Most kids are drinking from a much younger age although that doesn't mean to say we should encourage this by legally allowing them to drink at a younger age. It just seems stupid that you can have sex, get married and start driving but you can't drink alcohol.

I don't like to see youngsters drinking, I don't think they have any idea what it is doing to their young bodies. I think that as part of their wider education at school, pupils should visit an A&E department at a weekend so they can see first-hand how alcohol ruins lives. They should talk to victims of drink driving, they should talk to medical staff, they should talk to alcoholics and visit the wards because no message gets through quicker than a first-hand experience. Too many kids think they are invincible and that getting pissed every weekend is something everyone does. They rage against authority and if something is against the law, they want to try it. A huge wake-up call is what is needed.

StrangeGlue Fri 18-Oct-13 14:24:28

I think you do need to talk to your kids in the same way about drink as you do drugs and sex. It's both easier and harder - easier as drinking isn't taboo and isn't something your kids cringe to think of you doing (unlike sex) but also harder because some adults think quite warped approaches to drinking, especially what's an okay amount, are okay so I think its easy for kids to get mixed messages.

StrangeGlue Fri 18-Oct-13 14:26:27

2. I think 18 feels okay. I think its would be tricky and pointless to raise it as I think it wouldn't effect those whose drinking you were trying to delay. I think it feels weird to lower the legal age on something we know is, in excess, harmful. Seems like giving the message it's okay to drink really young.

StrangeGlue Fri 18-Oct-13 14:26:58

2. I think 18 feels okay. I think its would be tricky and pointless to raise it as I think it wouldn't effect those whose drinking you were trying to delay. I think it feels weird to lower the legal age on something we know is, in excess, harmful. Seems like giving the message it's okay to drink really young.

woodchuck Fri 18-Oct-13 14:40:37

My dcs do see people drinking, as we have beer or wine at home on a weekend and have larger family parties/bbqs severak times a year where people drink alcohol. I never take them anywhere where they would see people who are drunk and out of control, although I know they will see this before too long.

We try and educate our kids about moderation, yes, we enjoy alcohol, but don't need to take it too far and get messy. My kids have had the occasional sip of lager or a weak shandy, and I think this is fine. Cultures where drinking in moderation is part of family and social life are often well-balanced and not prone to drinking to excess. i think it helps to demystify alcohol.

When we discuss alcohol, we talk about the risks people might take if they are drunk and what consequences this can have. We talk about health and healthy behaviours at home quite a bit as I work in public health so often vent at the end of the day!

Trills Fri 18-Oct-13 14:52:57

I like the staggered approach as practised by Germany

At 14 - minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, as long as they are in the company of their parents or a legal guardian.
At 16 - minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine without their parents or a legal guardian.
At 18 - having become adults, people are allowed access to distilled liquor.

I think that raising the drinking age would be a bad idea.

purpleroses Fri 18-Oct-13 16:09:36

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

You can start to tell them about alcohol from about 5 or 6 as soon as they encounter adults drinking it. But my eldest (son) is nearly 14 and still hasn't encountered any sort of teenage drinking. So the right age to have proper detailed conversations about how to deal with drinking or friends drinking need to come at whatever age they start to come across it.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"
I'm not aware of any medical reasons why small amounts of alcohol are any worse for a 14 or 15 year old than they would be for a 16 year old. 12 year olds can have all adult medicines, and by 14 or so most are physically adult size so I can't see why alcohol would be any worse for them than at an older age.

I'm not in favour of giving it at all you young children but from about 12 years up, I don't think a very small amount is harmful. And from 16 up it's better to get them used to a unit or two from time to time in the company of family than with mates behind your back. I also think it's better to encounter drinking before leaving home. My youngest will turn 18 probably only a few weeks before she'll go off to university and I wouldn't want her coping with being away from home at the same time as finding out about getting drunk when she's got no one to come home to.

mignonette Fri 18-Oct-13 16:11:34

We will never have a 'Continental European' attitude to wards alcohol and its consumption. The extended opening hours has been a failure.

Thankfully neither of my two children like alcohol; they seem to have inherited my physical aversion to it. However I have always been open about alcohol with them, they have been made aware of the problems it can cause via my own work in substance misuse over the years and they have witnessed my grief for patients I have lost to alcohol abuse.

They have been affected by the loss of a dear family friend to alcohol induced Hypothermia a few years ago and know that alcohol makes people less aware of not only personal danger but of danger to their friends. They know that the risk of being robbed, mugged or attacked increases when you are drunk and have defences lowered.

They do consume alcohol via food though as I have always cooked with it. They see my DH enjoying his whiskies and see it as something that can be savoured as well as swilled down to get drunk. The fact that we are regularly woken up until 3-4 a.m in the morning by loud drunken people walking staggering home is a great deterrent too!

Alcohol awareness needs to be taught in school to a greater degree. However the problem is so deep rooted and wide spread now that i despair of change happening.

We adopt an open approach to discussing alcohol and it's dangers with our dc (8, 6, 4), and they only see us drinking very moderate amounts. Our oldest tried alcohol for her first Communion and hated it so think it will be a deterrent for a few years. An outright ban would be very hard to enforce - what about alcohol in religious celebrations, in cooking etc, and it will mystify it further.

Responsible parents will know not to give their children a couple of glasses of cider a night, just as they know not to give them cigarettes, drugs etc. Those parents who ignore the law and think it is cute to give a cigarette to an 8yr old will also ignore laws to not give alcohol. Doesn't mean that a responsible parent shouldn't use their discretion and let an almost 16yr old have a glass of bubbly when their sibling turns 18.

BooItTooJulia Fri 18-Oct-13 18:33:50

1. I think talking to your kids about everything is really important, including tricky things. Alcohol is something my kids see. We have dinner in the pub, enjoy a glass of wine at the weekend, and they see it at family gatherings and the likes. So,to ignore it would be weird! Obviously we use age appropriate language and concepts and discuss it as part if normal conversations. It's no different to teaching them about lots of stuff really!

2. In an ideal world, yes, 16 would be a good age to start introducing alcohol, but I also think it's unrealistic. I too like the German staggered approach, and the French way of letting older children sup (diluted) wine with dinner. It makes it less attractive to go binge drinking as soon as you are old enough to.

missorinoco Fri 18-Oct-13 19:24:54

Age 16 sounds reasonable, although I would be interested to know how this age has been devised.

In theory, (with under tens at present,) I can imagine a world where I offer alcohol with a meal over the age of 16. It feels wrong that you can get married with parental consent at 16, but be advised not to drink alcohol.
However, I think alcohol enters the teenage world long before this, and can recall peers very drunk at the age of 13-14.

ladygoingGaga Fri 18-Oct-13 21:03:23

I really think every child is different and parents need to talk to their child when they think it is right.
I think children shouldn't see adults drunk, but see that is part of adult life, something to be enjoyed for the taste and product not for the effects.
I will talk to my DS about the negative effects, if he see's drunken behaviour on tele, i will talk to him about it.

I was brought up in the continent and a very small glass of wine was normal for a teenager to have during a Sunday family meal, it introduced it so there was no mystery.
It gave me a healthy attitude towards alcohol, it wasn't a taboo.

AndHarry Fri 18-Oct-13 21:26:40

Drinking alcohol is contrary to our family's religious practices, however for families who don't share our beliefs, I think it is very wrong to give a child a harmful drug when they are too young to object or know what it is they're drinking. I would agree that 16 is old enough to make an informed choice about drinking alcohol but I would worry about the effects of peer pressure. I used to drink alcohol and it wasn't all that; I don't understand why it's seen as a must-do in British culture.

aaaahyouidiot Sat 19-Oct-13 00:29:48

I think you have to talk to them about alcohol from an early age because society will expose them to its effects and cultural significance even when they're tiny. We try hard not to glamourise it, or talk about being drunk etc - our eldest is 6 and well old enough to absorb unhealthy messages. We do keep it simple though - some people drink too much and it makes them do silly things, feel unwell and it is bad for them and it's not a good idea. But lots of people like to have a drink and that's OK.

With regard to medical advice, if that's based on evidence then it's not a matter of agreeing with it in my mind. If there's evidence it's harmful before 16 then who on earth would encourage it? However, it wouldn't stop me allowing the occasional small shandy or drop of wine with a meal to teens.

kateandme Sat 19-Oct-13 01:34:49

i think an important thing is to know your child.some can be ready at 16 and some very much cant or dont want to.i dont think we should push it on them or make it a big thing.on their 16th birthday i wont suddenly go yaaaay you can have a drink now.if they ask well discuss an age and then as and when they want it.
but if there are partys and things or celebrations i think 16 is the yonugest or even 17 i would offer them a drink.but just casually not getting drunk.i stikl wouldnt wish them to be drunk at 16.though i would think it might be hap[pening with friends it doenst make it right.and id want them to be very careful.
i still think 18 the drinking age is when they can be causal about drink and not jsut on the odd occasions.

Well i have been allowing mine to have a shandy or 1/2 cider from the age of about 15 i think. The had the odd sip when they were younger.My oldest is 19 now and obviously i have no say in what he drinks but he seems quite sensible. My DD is 17 i don't think she really likes the taste if offered a drink when we are out for a meal she will normally say no and have a coke. We had her birthday party here a few weeks ago, two of her friends had be collected as they turned up having been drinking before one couldn't even stand up, her mother was not happy, thankfully i have seen mine in that state.

ChasedByBees Sat 19-Oct-13 10:03:49

I think raising the drinking age would be a terrible idea too. I think 21 in the USA is far too high.

I used to have a small glass of a snowball at Christmas time from a young age. I'm not sure whether this was a good idea or not - it meant it was a huge treat which I'm not sure is a great way o think about alcohol but I did savour it rather than down it to get drunk.

I think encouraging children to see alcohol as something other than a drug to get drunk quickly is a good thing, so I imagine I'll let DD have a small glass of wine with some meals if we do when she's a teenager (we do this only every couple of months now so it wouldn't be frequent). I won't let her drink high alcohol content drinks until she's 18 (as far as I can anyway).

THERhubarb Sat 19-Oct-13 11:35:26

It's interesting to read people's opinions on this.

I know I am in a minority here but I think it is useful for kids to see adults drunk. Think about it, when you are sober drunk people are annoying, loud, obnoxious and a pain in the arse. They aren't funny or a laugh. So how much more will children see this? It's not until you see your friends pissed when you are not that you realise just how others see you when you too, are drunk. It's a bit of a shock.

Being drunk tends to be glamourised by funny ancedotes, by the media, etc so it's useful for children to see the realities of people being pissed. It will make them less likely to want to behave that way themselves.

As for parents being drunk. I don't advocate this at all but again, it's easy for children to think that you must need to drink a shitload to get pissed and this isn't the case. Even adults can sometimes drink more than they meant to and to get quite drunk without realising it. Children need to see just how easy it is to get out of control. Sometimes it can take just a few glasses of wine on an empty stomach.

That's why I also think that schools should teach children the dangers of alcohol and have people in to talk about it - real people who see it every day. Children should be shown adults after a night out, collapsed in the street, covered in vomit. That's not fun or glamorous or funny. It's reality and I think reality is a far greater lesson than a lecture from mum and dad.

Whilst I feel that it is very important to be able to have open and honest discussions with our children about the serious topics like drinking, sex, relationships, etc, I also think that the parents' example is vitally important. If our children see us respecting each other and respecting ourselves, they will learn from this. If they see us enjoying a drink or two without going stupidly overboard, or getting stinking drunk, they will learn from that - so we should model a healthy attitude towards alcohol, as well as preaching it.


1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

My family business is a pub and my girls have seen the best and worst of people and drink. My youngest is 8 and she knows that getting drunk is not a good thing. I think it is very important as drink is a subject that seems very commonplace coronation street and emmerdale have pubs that are a focal point. I think it should be talked about in a positive way as well as the downfalls and don't think 8 yrs old is too soon.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I honestly think that 18 yrs is soon enough. I think a celebratory drink at Christmas / birthdays etc is enough and don't encourage it but my kids have tasted wine champagne and lager as they are curious what all the fuss is about. I would (and have) let my eldest have a drink in the house at 16 yrs again special occasions and think that being aware and talking about it have helped her have a healthy relationship with alcohol she is 20 now and goes out with her friends but does not get totally drunk.

Dancealot Sat 19-Oct-13 22:04:22

Yes I think 16 is the right age, although I think it is important to discuss alcohol with them from a much younger age, as I am sure they will be exposed to it by their peers.

I will be talking to both my children about the pros and cons of alcohol. The thing that scares me most are memories of my teenage years, how quickly I could get drunk and how out of control it left me in some situations. I really hope I can make them more sensible around alcohol than I ever was.

DanglingChillis Sat 19-Oct-13 23:26:14

We already talk to the kids about alcohol (our eldest is 5) and how wine and beer are strong drinks just for grown ups. We model responsible drinking (a glass of wine with dinner at weekends only). I'm not planning on introducing alcohol to their diet any time soon and agree 16 is a reasonable time to start but not sure how to balance that against the peer pressure they will get at a younger age.

petalsandstars Sun 20-Oct-13 05:10:00

I think that to purposefully give young children alcohol would be a mistake but see no harm in allowing a small amount of alcohol at home under supervision from around 14 years old. At this age children are likely to want to try it and understand the consequences better
16 seems a bit obvious an age to pick and probably a bit late as kids may look old enough to buy it themselves by then so there is no control.

petalsandstars Sun 20-Oct-13 05:10:10

I think that to purposefully give young children alcohol would be a mistake but see no harm in allowing a small amount of alcohol at home under supervision from around 14 years old. At this age children are likely to want to try it and understand the consequences better
16 seems a bit obvious an age to pick and probably a bit late as kids may look old enough to buy it themselves by then so there is no control.

trice Sun 20-Oct-13 09:01:53

My dcs will not be encouraged to drink as we generally don't. It is a pointless habit, and can cause so much misery, I think children should be taught how to be sociable and have fun without being tipsy.

skyeskyeskye Sun 20-Oct-13 16:35:37

My DD is only 5, but I think that as she grows up I will introduce her to alcohol in a safe way. A glass of wine with lunch as an older teenager would be ok.

My friend has a 13yo and she gives him the occasional can if lager at a family party. He doesn't abuse that and is very sensible. Obviously not all teenagers are the same though.

lionheart Sun 20-Oct-13 19:09:58

Yes of course you should talk to them and even more important, should set a good example when it comes to your own drinking.

16 still seems quite young to me.

manfalou Sun 20-Oct-13 21:19:58

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I do think its important to have a discussion about alcohol but when the time is right...which is going to be different for each child as with any subject. For me its particularly important as my mum died due to being an alcoholic when I was pregnant with my first child. From a young age both me and my brother saw what alcohol was doing to our mum and neither of us have drank excessively. I think if you know or have seen the ultimate consequences of drinking it automatically puts you off drinking that excessively.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I think you should introduce them gradually... they do in other countries and other countries aren't as bigger binge drinkers as us brits. I think its like anything, if you don't let children have something until they get to the point where they can do so without parental consent then they go wild. Drinking responsibly is something you need to learn, as is having a balanced diet. If you only let your child have super healthy stuff then ... in my experience... they're more likely to go behind your back to buy a bar or 2 or binge eat when possible. I know this isn't the case for everyone but Ive seen it happen, they eat/drink because they can and theres nothing anyone can do about it.

manfalou Sun 20-Oct-13 21:28:52

I would also add to set by example... although in my case this really isn't the case.

We only have the odd drink in the house on the odd weekend, DS is told beer is just for Ladies and Misters. We very rarely go out and when we do still only have 2-3 drinks each so the children's have never seen us in a drunken mess.

As mentioned above my own mother died due to being an alcoholic. She drank all day everyday...mostly spirits such as brandy and port. Not once did I copy her or feel that this was the way to go about things. And my grandparents never drank excessivly in front of her. Seeing her do what she did was awful and wouldn't never make me want to drink. I think younger people need to be made aware of the dangers of drink.

lolancurly Mon 21-Oct-13 08:00:01

My little girl started asking for 'wine' to drink with her meal. What she meant was that she wanted apple juice because it looks like white wine. I found this a little worrying, as clearly she equates meal times with having a glass of wine! My older children have all grown up with a healthy attitude to alcohol and have all done the over indulgence thing at the silly experimental teen age, but it is short lived and they very soon grow out of it.

Bubbles85 Mon 21-Oct-13 11:34:31

I don't think children under 16 should be given alcohol. To be honest 16 seems too young to me. I think you need to talk to the, about alcohol but don't give them alcohol for parties like some parents do!

Elainey1609 Mon 21-Oct-13 15:51:10

It is important we discuss alcohol openly with children
we have done from an early age since they started asking questions to be honest. Which was around the age of 6/7. I think its never to early. if they had asked me a question at age 5 I would have attempted to answer it.. Its very similar to when discussing sex ..we do it as honestly and openly as possible but in an age appropriate way.
I am always surprised how understanding and accepting of information they are.

I think how you introduce alcohol to children is very individual to the parents and depends on the circumstances.
I did it as my parents taught me which is if I wanted a taste of my mums wine I was allowed a sip .
At special occasions such as Christmas I was allowed a little bucksfizz normally waterd down with a little lemonade.
I have done exactly the same thing and it seems to work so I agree with gradually from an acceptable age when they start being inquisitive and of course under supervision.

BruthasTortoise Mon 21-Oct-13 23:10:37

I think 16 is plenty old enough to be introduced to alcohol. But then DH and I don't drink much and never in the house, maybe if we were people who enjoyed wine with a meal or something we would reconsider.

KitCat26 Tue 22-Oct-13 13:24:14

1) My girls are little at the moment (under 5), but they see me and DH have a glass of wine/beer with a meal, or in the evening and always ask if they can try some. They know it is a grown up drink though and not for children.

I think answering questions age appropriately is the first place to start, but also setting a good example as they grow up is important. If they haven't asked by age six then perhaps a little chat then.

2) Actually I think 16 is a bit late for a first taste of alcohol (but the legal age of 18 is fine imo). I think that by that stage they will have been tempted to try it at other people's houses and personally I would prefer them to have a drink under our roof where I can keep an eye on them. I think 13 for half a weak shandy would be ok - very occasionally. Wine or beer with a meal (Sunday lunch or birthday etc) from 15.

A slow and gradual supervised introduction would be my approach, as was my parents.

GaryBuseysTeeth Tue 22-Oct-13 16:16:38

I think the age of talking about alcohol depends on when the child begins to take notice of the different drinks.
I would, however, always do it before they started secondary school, thinking back to my childhood I started experimenting with alcohol when I was around 11...back then the children who weren't 'aware' of alcohol were the ones who ended up comatose after a few swigs of vodka.

We've got Mediterranean relatives who can't get their head around the British way of binge drinking, so hopefully with growing up visiting them often (and, in all likelihood, alcohol being a holiday treat) I would be happy with them having a small glass of something with food from about 11.

I think normalising alcohol & letting them made a choice about their consumption at home helps, but I'm aware most teens will, at some point, want to secretly drink wkd's with their mates & behave like prats. I just hope we would've instilled enough common sense in our DS's that they won't get in the car with a drunk driver or start a fight drunk.

nomorebooze Tue 22-Oct-13 16:57:00

1- I think it should be discussed as soon as they start asking questions about it. My 3 and 1/2 year old has been curious as to what mummy and daddy were drinking on holiday! you don't want to make drinking a mysterious thing. I feel this could cause an added excitement of the forbidden.

2- I think it depends of individual circumstances! I think its not a bad thing to let them try alcohol earlier as long as you enforce sensible drinking culture into your home! I remember having a white wine spritzer at christmas at the age of 14! it did me no harm! I think would you rather they tried alcohol in your company where you can supervise it! or at the park on cheap plonk there friend has given them, where they end up drunk?

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 20:47:08

Can I just part of ButThereAgain's brilliant post, in case anyone missed it: "Strategically Drinkaware is a tool that complements alcohol marketing, so this thread feels not unlike threads that get us all to talk about Cif etc to give the product a boost."
MN is here partnering with an organisation which is widely accepted to be a cover for the alcohol industry, used to avoid or delay regulation. Would MN "partner" with Phillip Morris to "find out Mumsnetter's opinions about smoking?"

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 20:51:13

Yes, I just bet you'd like to get families to "introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision", wouldn't you, Portman? Any other suggestions? What about "introducing children gradually to smoking from a young age under your supervision"? You're never to young to be "Drinkaware", eh?

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 22-Oct-13 21:02:06

Iranu good repost. It seems you and I are the only ones to have noticed that.

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 21:37:28

Yes, I'm effing livid! Hard to believe the cynicism behind this Drinkaware/Alcohol industry marketing exercise. Well, actually not that hard to believe, I suppose - the tobacco industry have been doing it for decades.

worldgonecrazy Wed 23-Oct-13 07:11:18

I think an important point is being missed. In my experience, most adults will drink for pleasure and relaxation. Teens seem to drink purely to get as pissed as possible as quickly as possible. I have seen otherwise sensible teens knocking back vodka just to get smashed. I believe we need to address the reasons why teens want to poison themselves to oblivion, rather than focus exclusively on teaching sensible drinking.

slickrick Wed 23-Oct-13 10:47:43

Alcohol is a massive problem in the UK look around any city or town and you will see drunk people at the weekends.
The problem nowadays is the shot culture downing as many shots as possible is classed as fun, this is so dangerous as our livers cant cope with that much alcohol.
My DD is 16 every single child in her year has been drinking for at least 2 years on a regular basis.
Our country is a joke when it comes to alcohol have a look in A&E at the weekends to see the damage drinking does.

Iranu Wed 23-Oct-13 18:18:56

Yes, Worldgonecrazy, there is indeed something being missed here, and this Drinkaware “survey” is carefully trying to make sure we do miss it. The point that is being missed is this: although teens getting pissed in city centres are very visible, most of the harms of alcohol occur in adults drinking too much in their homes. About 60 seconds googling shows that, according to Alcohol Concern, the number of hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease for under 30’s in England has doubled since 2002. It has quadrupled in the north east. The Alcohol Industry, however, would prefer that we all focus on young people drinking, and that we look away from the problem in the general population. Which is precisely why Drinkaware are hooking up with Mumsnet to “find out Mumsnetters' opinions on talking to your children about alcohol and underage drinking”. Conversely, they are less interested, in, say “finding out Mumsnetters’ opinions about how alcohol is a significant risk factor for breast cancer (see the NHS website) –and is an even greater risk for breast cancer in teens– see:

BigGapMum Thu 24-Oct-13 21:40:11

It's never too early to start talking about alcohol with your children. But obviously the conversation has got to be age appropriate. My 5yo DS2 sees DH and I having a glass of wine with dinner occasionally. Do people really think it should not be mentioned. The on going message is that it is an occasional treat for grownups and that too much is a bad thing.

If DS2 wants to try alcohol at 14 or 15 I would not object to him having a small glass of diluted wine or beer. I did the same with DS1 and he turned out fine!

Incidentally when DS1 was 17 a nearby pub landlord had an unwritten policy where on quite evenings he would allow 17 year olds to have 1 pint of standard lager with a game of pool. Any further drinks would be non-alcoholic.
His reasoning was that he was introducing them to alcohol responsibly and with supervision. The following year they would be able to drink as much and whatever alcohol they wanted with hardly any restriction i.e. from nothing to excess, and no supervision.
He didn't take any nonsense from them and they (mostly) would have had a 40 minute walk to get there and the same home (rural area). I know that he was making profit from them but even so he had my total support but almost certainly would not be able to get away with it these days.

unadulterateddad Thu 24-Oct-13 21:57:13

Absolutely speak to your children from an early age about all sorts of "difficult" subjects, such as sex, death, alcohol. The earlier conversations are often very lighthearted, children don't see any question as a difficult subject, it only adults incapability to talk about subjects openly that causes embarrassment.
Personally I don't think alcohol should be given to under 16s - it's a poison and I don't see many parents offering their children other drugs under supervision.
Moreover instead of Talking about kids and alcohol why are drinkaware not focusing on the adults who spend their evenings at home drinking bottles of wine and giving themselves cirrhosis..

Kelloges0811 Thu 24-Oct-13 22:35:35

I have two very young children myself and I think children are never to young to 'know' about alcohol. I mean how indepth a knowledge they have about alcohol must be age appropriate. My two little ones are aware that 'wine and 'dirty beer' is only for adults, and too much can make you sick. They have witnessed myself and family members have a celebration drink say at birthdays, during special meals, Christmas time and have never been around 'drunkeness'. My two are even to young to want 'fizzy drinks' my eldest thinks she may taste ' fizzy drinks' when she is a teenager lol. Every child is different and may choose to experiment at an early age! I see having the knowledge and facts of safe drinking is the best from an early age. We have never hid alcohol away from them and being open an honest about it will hopefully allow them to ask any questions they may have as they grow older. From the type of questions our children may ask, would depend how indepth an answer we would give them and the understanding of your each child. I can not see myself or husband giving our children alcohol under the age of 16 even under our supervision as it is unthinkable with our children being so small. But I would rather that, if our children did ask to experiment, if they were going to try a drink under 16 that they would come to us in our home.

Question 2 -

I completely agree that children shouldn't be given alcohol whilst they are exactly that, children. There is no need for them to have it. I don't think introducing them to it gradually from a young age would make the slightest bit of difference to how they would be with alcohol when they are at the age they can buy/drink it. I personally think it's the equivalent

I think the only way to teach our dc about the dangers of alcohol and underage drinking is to talk honestly and openly about it, the same with drug awareness and sex education!

No idea what happened to my post then or what I was trying to say in the middle grin

Lightshines Fri 25-Oct-13 12:57:01

I do think it is important to talk about alcohol, but I do not see this as a tricky conversation. For most people (I rarely drink alcohol but have no objections to it, just doesn't float my boat) alcohol is an enjoyable and acceptable part of family, business and social life. Children need to know that - its a part of life, not the be all and end all.

I have two children under age 16 - they are 12 and 15. The eldest has in the last couple of weeks started drinking out of the home, which concerns me. We have always allowed a small amount of (usually diluted) wine, cider or beer during family occasions but not regularly. The youngest invariably takes a glass and hardly drinks any of it. I take the view that banning alcohol completely makes it more attractive.

Having said these things, I do worry about our approach, in case we are on the wrong tack and should have banned it totally until they were older.

magentastardust Fri 25-Oct-13 15:40:33

My children are still quite young-oldest 9. They are aware we will have a wine or a beer socially and they are also aware that you can't drink alcohol and drive as we have discussed that in front of them.

I think it is good to encourage that everything in moderation is sensible and I think I would probably be looking to start serious conversation about underage drinking with friends at around 14 (although hoping that it won't be put in practice)
I am obviously aware that teens will experiment but I can hope that we have passed a sensible message to be safe and aware and that they can talk to us at all times .
I would imagine from around 16 or 17 I would be happy to offer them a beer or small glass of wine on special occasions such as weddings or xmas so they could have a small taste and take some of the intrigue away.
I think something that will worry me will be the amount they drink -both my older children are very petite and I wouldn't imagine it would take a lot of alcohol to make them feel drunk -I would want them to be very aware of not trying to keep up with others and stay within what they felt were sensible limits.

I have a couple of young girls aged between 19 and 21 at my work and the stories they tell of the state their friends get in does now as a parent worry me. I am sure it didn't when I was that age though!

Iranu Fri 25-Oct-13 18:16:41

All very interesting. Particuarly interesting, though, that some of the many posts so far carefully rehearse Drinkaware messages, with remarkably similar wording. Makes me wonder about this "prize draw", and whether there is going to be an element of "naming the Blue Peter cat" about it.

Anyway to get back to the matter of health risks of alcohol in the young which Drinkaware want us to discuss. In my previous post above, I mentioned the risk of breast cancer. I see from the original OP blurb that this Drinakaware/Mumsnet distraction campaign will run for 4 weeks.
I’ve had a corking (sorry) idea – what about designating each week according to a particular harm of alcohol? Let’s start with Drinkaware_Cancer week. When the £200 voucher is awarded, then perhaps the recipient can agree to pass it to, say, a cancer charity, on the doorstep of the Drinkaware offices? I’m sure someone on Mumsnet with the right press contacts could rustle up some publicity...
Suggestions for other future "themed" "Drinkaware_HealthRisk" weeks welcome...

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:28:19

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

It is just as important to talk about alcohol, particularly as it loosens inhibitions and makes other scenarios more likely. I take the drip drip approach rather than wait for a right time. If something comes up, we discuss it at a level suitable for their understanding. As fans of Waterloo Road, we've had lots of opportunities to discuss these issues, including drinking, and continue to do so.
My DDs witnessed an older girl getting stupidly drunk at a "family" party (not our family I hasten to add). It was me that sorted her out, got her to the bathroom, caught her sick etc. while DH found her parents (and gave them a talking to). Not what I wanted my girls to see but we had a really frank discussion about it the following day and she is now a cautionary tale.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I have always let them have a sip of my wine or beer (not as babies but they are under 16). I thought it was taking the European approach and have always tried to be open about alcohol, not making it a great taboo (as it becomes fascinating to them then). I've always thought it's better to try it at home where you are safe than away from home where people may not be looking out for you.

clubnail Fri 25-Oct-13 18:54:24

DS is only young, too early for such a discussion, so I'm not sure yet, but I expect we will just be open and honest and take each moment as it comes, and answer any questions truthfully. I would like to get away from the uk and travel a lot, show him how other countries use alcohol. The drink to get drunk culture here is embarrassing.

Orange01 Sat 26-Oct-13 14:42:21

It's imperative to talk to our children about drink from an early age, my step daughter is 9 and she loves a weak glass of red wine or sangria. She doesn't have it all the time but it's important that she doesn't get to an age where she starts binge drinking.

I work in police and see many young girls that have been victims of sexual assaults because through excessive drinking they can become separated from friends which makes them vulnerable.

Having a mobile phone and a serious chat about keeping them is sooooo important.

threepiecesuite Sat 26-Oct-13 17:28:12

1. I haven't got a set age in mind to talk about alcohol but intend to discuss it in an open and honest way when it arises. I often talk to my teenagers at school (teacher) about it, about moderation, the ill effects in can have, why so-and-so's sister shouldn't be going to the off license for them, why someone's mother shouldn't be buying them bootleg vodka to share in the park on a Sat night. I draw on my own experiences of getting too drunk and getting into a few mishaps.

2. I wholeheartedly wish we could emulate the French who seem to weave alcohol into daily life without making a big deal of it. The odd shandy or alcopop from about 14 can make teenagers feel grown-up and for some, they realise that they actually don't like the taste of alcohol at all.

FreeWoooooooo Sat 26-Oct-13 21:11:03

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time

I'd talk to my DD before the temptation is likely to arise. If she mentions anything she's heard at school earlier than I realise it's an issue then I would immediately address it. I'm not one to shy away from a difficult conversation because if you don't have it at the right time it will only get worse; it won't go away. I think alcohol conversations should probably happen in Year 8.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?

Yes I think 16 is the right age to drink a full sized glass/half pint and no earlier. However, in terms of sips etc I would probably let my DD from a younger age because the taste isn't very nice to them so it will put them off wanting to have more. I used to sip the froth on top of my dad's ale when I was primary school age but I've never drunk a full pint of ale so clearly it didn't attract me to drinking. I didn't get drunk till I was 17 and have not been totally wild with drinking and I think that's because I tried alcohol from an early age and it wasn't taboo. I think the Mediterranean attitude to drinking is one I would emulate as they have far less binge drinking.

sabretiggr Sat 26-Oct-13 23:29:10

Important to talk to kids about pretty much everything so that they can feel they can talk to you too.

Although for alchohol purchase and drinking a whole drink the age is fine, i think there is little harm in having the teeniest sip at a younger age. eg. my kids sometimes dip a finger into a glass of wine for a taste and I don't think that would harm them as it is such a tiny amount that actually reaches their mouths.

raddledoldtart Sun 27-Oct-13 06:35:23

As a checkout assistant, I tell my kids it's good manners to show your ID before being asked for it!

mumsbe Mon 28-Oct-13 08:12:34

Having my children aware of alcohol is very important to me. I have been discussing it with my daughter since she was about 3 she is now nearly 6 and is fully aware of what drinking too much can do it has helped explain this due to our neighbours having drunken partys every weekend so i have had to explain it really. At least my daughter now knows what she doesnt want to act like and even said im never drinking it makes you look silly.

mumsbe Mon 28-Oct-13 08:20:03

I dont agree with 16 been an ok age to drink at that age it should very much still be a splash of wine and a lot of lemonade the age limit should be 21 if children are shown by parents that there are other ways to have fun and a couple of drinks is fine but know your limits then i think there would be less under age drinking. I would probably let my child around the age of 14 have a splash of wine and a lot of lemonade while explaining limits at christmas and that would be it.

newtothenet Mon 28-Oct-13 10:56:27

My daughter is still a baby but I think that junior school age would be about right to talk to her about the dangers of drinking. Before then, though we'll talk to her about alcohol, if and when we drink it in front of her. I don't think it should be a taboo subject as that will make her more interested. And if she's anything like me as a child, if we give her a sip she'll think it's disgusting and stay well away! I wouldn't like her to be drinking a glass full of anything though until at least 18! (Or maybe 16ish, if she's at home with us.)

Letitsnow9 Mon 28-Oct-13 17:36:06

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

-talk generally as they grow up

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

-give tiny amounts as they get older under supervision

foolssilver Mon 28-Oct-13 22:58:35

1 - I think it's best to be open about alcohol with children in an age appropriate way from a very young age but start having more serious conversations about it's effects, safety etc from about 12 years old.

2 - I think 16 is about the right age in terms of health but we have to acknowledge that children with probably have had a drink before 16.

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 29-Oct-13 13:57:20

Hi everyone - thanks for adding your thoughts. We're now going to add a new question and do the prize draw for the second question, we'll be in contact with the winner soon. Please continue adding your responses to the third question! Thanks.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 29-Oct-13 14:45:53

Of course your behaviour influences your child. No, I do not think it is good for your child to see you drunk - you should not be getting drunk in the first place. That would be modelling inappropriate behaviour. If you are with your child you are, to a certain extent, 'on duty'. If you want to get hammered, do it on your own time, not your child's.

Though perhaps if what your child saw was you getting into serious trouble through being drunk, perhaps that would have a good influence in the sense of shocking them.

YesterdayI Wed 30-Oct-13 01:56:49

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?

I hardly drink but don't 'disapprove' of drinking and my DH typically drinks one large glass of wine with food two or three times a week (he is Spanish grin ). Our kids are now young adults and have always seen my DH drinking and we have offered them drinks at home. However, I don't think they have ever seen us drunk despite us have a fun and lively social life.

I told them when they were younger that if they wanted to drink they should get used to it at home rather than 'test driving' it at a party but I have never given them any indiction that I don't like normal social drinking IYSWIM

Anyway, I am not entirely sure how it happened but none of my four kids drink (they are nearly 17 and older). Three are literally tea total and one just has an occasional rum and coke. They didn't even drink during their freshers weeks confused and all claim never to have been drunk. They know we don't mind if they did drink and their friends and Facebook all confirm their claims. None of them claim to disapprove of drink but all say they just don't fancy drinking even when they go out clubbing or partying. They have a mix of friends including some that don't drink and some that drink wholeheartedly. confused My eldest has a friend who ended up in hospital having his stomach pumped.

I have no idea if they will continue like this but I am quietly pleased, for the time being, as I know they are less likely to get into bad situations and it saves them and us a lot of money.

They have always been encouraged to do what they want and I like to think the fact they see their parents having fun without alcohol makes it ok not to drink much. It will be interesting to see what they do when they get older.

LordPalmerston Wed 30-Oct-13 03:58:16

I totally agree kind before 16. And then controlled. My son is 15 and in askance at the "responsible parents@ who let their kids consume it and even provide it. We've had an incident with lager and the point was made that at 16 we will talk again.

Parents should not talk about "being pissed" in front of kids. It normalises and legitimates it. If they drink (which is fine) it should never to be that point when their kids are awake it around.

Bored of the old French water with wine crap argument. Alcohol is firbidden.

LordPalmerston Wed 30-Oct-13 03:59:13

Not kind. Sorry. Typo. "None"

LegoCaltrops Wed 30-Oct-13 11:58:22

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

Our DD is still only a toddler so she wouldn't really notice much yet. But, I wouldn't ever let her see me drunk - TBH I rarely drink & never get drunk. My dad was a functioning alcoholic ever since I was tiny, he nearly died due to it a few years ago. It really affected my attitude towards alcohol & although I don't actively prevent my DH having a couple of beers, I get really upset if I feel he takes it to excess. I know it's my issue rather than my DH's behaviour that's the problem there BTW but I think it does demonstrate how growing up with alcohol abuse can affect you, even if you never actually see them drunk (I never did - my dad just always had a glass of something on the go). So I really don't think the issue is just about whether children see their parents 'drunk', it's the whole attitude around alcohol & regular consumption & normalisation of it, that's the issue IMHO.

I do remember regularly having about an inch of a sweet wine, cider, sherry etc on Sundays & on holiday, aged about 4 (maybe younger). In retrospect this was way too young, although my parents obviously didn't think so at the time. This would have been in the mid '80s so maybe it was more normal then.

I'd like to think that when our DD is old enough to understand, we'll be able to have a proper conversation with her about why alcohol can be enjoyable occasionally, but mostly we don't drink it because it's expensive & bad for you & makes you do stupid things.

Rosa Wed 30-Oct-13 12:18:09

3) No need as neither of us feel the need to get 'drunk ' either in front of or without our children.
Our children know we like an odd glass of wine or something stronger and on a holiday to a well know wine area it was a joke as who was having a drink and who was driving.
IMO a responsible adult knows when you go from enjoying a drink to getting totally drunk and should know when to stop ( unless that is the intention ) which for me is irresponsible ..especially if your children need assistance in the night or whatever.

No i dont think it is ok for children to see their parents drunk, both of my children have seen me drink, sometimes a glass, sometimes more at a party, they have never seen me falling over drunk, maybe tipsy when they were older, but i am very aware that i have to be an adult and if i was with kids and drunk as a single parent what would happen if they needed medical help or there was a fire ect. that's not say i have not got accidentally drunk when the kids were not here, you know how it goes you go out for one drink and end up at 3am still drinking, and feel like death the next day.

My kids are now 20 and 17, both drink. I have never seen my 20 year old drunk and vomiting as i have seen some of his friends, he seems quite sensible to me, although he might not come home when he is drunk who knows

My 17 year old drinks when her friends do, but she doesn't really like it will have coke if offered a drink by me when out for a meal, not sure what she does when im not there, but she wont drink if she has to come home on the bus alone she knows the risks.

Im not sure if my drinknig has influenced them at all really, they know im happy for them to have a few , its just the drinking to oblivion i hate.

AndHarry Thu 31-Oct-13 11:46:29

Q3. Parental use of alcohol definitely influences their children. In my own family, DH's grandad was an alcoholic, as were all of his uncles on that side (all now dead from alcohol-related disease) and his cousins are now the third generation of males with alcohol issues. It can't be coincidence.

DH and I don't drink but no, I don't think it's ok for children to see their parents drunk. At the extreme end, I'm sure that what a child sees as normal adult behaviour is reflected in their own values, attitudes and behaviours as they grow up and if they constantly see their parents drunk then they will think that's normal and ok too. At the other end of the scale, I can imagine a young child being confused and upset by seeing their parent in such a state and an older child losing a bit of respect for them. Drunk people are neither funny nor cool.

Bubbles85 Fri 01-Nov-13 08:19:32

I think parents influence their children a lot more than they realise. No, I don't think it's rights that children should see their parents drunk. Luckily I don't really like the feeling of being drunk myself but even if I did I would hate for my children to see me in that way and think it is acceptable. How could I ever get angry with them for doing the same as me? Also, with very young children its not fair to be drunk when looking after them.

NotCitrus Fri 01-Nov-13 08:42:27

3. Definitely a big influence from parents. I rarely have.more.than one drink nowadays and I'm sure the fact that I never saw my parents drink much had an effect - school friends of mine were amazed that I'd never seen my parents drunk. Though I did my share of drunkenness as a teenager, but still I think to a lesser extent than many. But possibly just lucky with high alcohol tolerance.

Ds is only 5 but knows alcohol is like medicine as too much can make you very sick so it's only for adults to get out.

Jinty64 Fri 01-Nov-13 14:15:23

We haven't sat down and had "the talk" with our teenagers it has always been something that has come up in conversation as we have gone along.

They first asked for wine with Christmas dinner when they were about 14 and 12. They got a small glass each but didn't like it. I have friends who will make it half and half with lemonade to make it taste nice but I don't see the point of this. Ds1 (18) has an occasional cider or beer. Ds2 (16) still doesn't like it. Ds3 (7) has never tried it.

Dh and I both drink in front of the children but only a couple of glasses of wine and they have never seen us drunk. I think that is how it should be.

asuwere Fri 01-Nov-13 14:50:35

1. I never really thought about alcohol as a discussion point but having recently watched a programme about binge drinking culture, I've realised that I do need to add it to the list of things. I don't see it as a set discussion though, just something else to to bring in to regular discussions, as with sex, drugs, relationships etc. I guess it goes with healthy eating and moderation.

2. I don't see any reason to introduce alcohol any earlier than 16. It does depend on circumstances though - if going away to college or something and will be with older teenagers, then it might be worth letting them try at home rather than out with other people. It's tough though. Neither I not DH drink so there isn't any alcohol in the house so it would be bought specifically which would be odd.

3. as above, neither DH or I drink so DC never see it.

ILoveMyCaravan Fri 01-Nov-13 16:26:38

I started talking to my children about alcohol when they started asking at about 10/11 years. They see me drinking one glass of wine with a meal at home, but that's all I have. They have never seen me drunk nor would I wish them too (I don't drink more than a glass anyway). Hopefully they can see that I drink within sensible limits and I have allowed them (once) to have the tiniest taste of my wine or beer and they thought it absolutely disgusting so I think I have put them off for a good while yet. I thought it better that they didn't crave it or get ideas that they would like it, so a tiny little taste now that puts them off, I think has worked, for now! More importantly when we go out for a meal, my DH doesn't drink at all and they understand that's because alcohol and driving don't mix. He rarely drinks anyway. I think how much you drink would definitely have an affect on DCs.

DifferentNow Fri 01-Nov-13 17:04:50

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I think it's an essential conversation. My eldest DC has just started high school and I think that this is probably a good time now for me to bring it up.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

God, no. No 'introducing' children to alcohol. Should we introduce them to cigarettes as well?! Teenagers have a hard enough time coping with their feelings etc without distorting them with booze.

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

My own children will grow up witnessing DH and I have the odd beer or glass of wine which is how I think it ought to be. I think it's irresponsible for parents to be drunk around children. Alcohol impairs judgement and good judgement is vital in parenting. My dad wasn't an alcoholic or anything and was/is a good dad but he drank too much when we were growing up and it made me feel vulnerable. I got really pissed at a party a while back, shortly after having a miscarriage and my children saw me throwing up. It made me feel ashamed.

Lynne73 Fri 01-Nov-13 18:37:25

Our children are 6 and 8 and they see myself and my husband enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer at the weekend. They understand these are drinks for grown-ups and don't see it as a big deal.
I would never want my child/ren to see me even slightly drunk; I don't think that's appropriate behaviour for me as a parent.
We have discussed the effects of too much alcohol when they've asked questions but have hopefully answered in an age-appropriate manner. They understand that you're not allowed to drive your car when you've been drinking.
I think age 9 or 10 would be a good time to begin conversations about the health issues surrounding excessive alcohol but would be led by my child as and when they have a question about this subject.

Lynne73 Fri 01-Nov-13 18:42:18

I do not think we should be allowing children to try alcohol; I think that's wholly inappropriate. Once they are 16 or older, I would allow them to drink alcohol under our supervision at home so as not to make alcohol a forbidden fruit.

bamblolo Fri 01-Nov-13 19:47:40

I think children are more aware of the affects of alcohol nowadays. They will often see on the news the strains that drinking/alcoholism is having on the NHS. One of my daughters did ask why were kids so young drunk on the news. This then led us into a conversation of the perils of underage drinking and binge drinking. I think all the press coverage has put my kids off but hopefully they will be able to make their own informed choice when they are old enough. I think 16 is probably old enough to be introduced to a glass of wine with a meal or maybe one beer with a meal.

Mitchdafish Fri 01-Nov-13 21:10:33

I am open with my children about alcohol, as others has said a bit-by-bit proess depending on the context and the age. Every child and family is different, so a conversation in a family with an alcoholic would be different from a teetotal family. Likewise there are children who are risk adverse and who can say no easily, and those who would drink alcohol to feel cool.
Similarly an age limit on drinking alcohol does not sit easily with me, although I'm happy with the UK law. Guidelines such as medics saying '16' are of little use to the individual parent deciding what is best for their child in their unique circumstances. Such guidelines create a rule to be broken, and then the parents are perhaps guilty if a sip of fizz is offered at a wedding and then suddenly the thrill of breaking the alcohol guideline is felt and established as a precedent, with the parents' approval.
There are plenty of people who feel that guidelines are there for people who don't tend to think for themselves, and as a parent one questions guidleines frequently. They often seem patronising. I'd prefer to see facts about alcohol offered clearly, with easy to understand factual data (see NICE guidelines on describing medical risk) so that parents can introduce children to alcohol in a way that feels most appropriate.
I avoid drinking when the children are up. Now they go to bed later we might have wine with a special meal. Am happy for them to try a sip if they want, they have never liked it.
I'm aware that friends children aged 14+ are supplied with alcohol at house parties by parents. It doesn't seem right to me, I think it would be more appropriate in the company of parents, however I might feel differently when my children are older.

Pollaidh Fri 01-Nov-13 23:01:01

How we discuss will change with age. Our 3 year old has asked about wine and we say it's for adults and too much of it isn't good for you. We drink very reasonably and she's never seen anyone drunk, maybe at most slightly tipsy on champagne. We would not get drunk while in charge of our children -weve had enough midnight hospital trips that we know at least one of us needs to be safe to drive.

Later we'll take the continental approach, which both our parents used - diluted wine with meals from about 15 and supplying 16+ parties with limited alcohol, while under our supervision. All us kids got drunk, sure, but we discovered our limits before we went away to uni. I've only been sick once at uni and tipsy at most in the last 13 years. A taste for the good stuff is important, them you can't afford to drink buckets of single malt or expensive wines so you drink less.

For girls especially an important message is their vulnerability when drunk, and making bad decisions.

MoogDroog Sat 02-Nov-13 08:44:14

3"How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?

It has a huge influence on children's future behaviour regarding alcohol, same as it would be for any other drug. Children learn what is okay from their parents and significant others. The sooner we stop setting alcohol apart from other drugs the better.

Would I like my children to see me drunk? No thanks. They can see me vaguely tipsy at appropriate events and occasions, but I'd be horrified if they saw me drunk.

Snuppeline Sat 02-Nov-13 09:17:31

Here are my answers

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

From eight onwards, their moral is formed and they are possible to influence without the aspect of peer pressure. I will begin talking about it from that age in relation to questions about members of the family who are heavy drinkers, for instance, so will use as a chance to educate and gently warn. Other than that I think being a good role model at very age is key.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I thought it was 15? I have step children who have been given wine from eight, 'like the French'. I personally do not agree and think it is risky as the young brain is still forming and risk being made more susceptible to alcoholism. But then we have alcoholics in my family so it's something I worry about.

I will take the official guidance and where I was planning to let my dd's try alcohol in the safety of my home with my supervision from 15 I will now wait until they are 16.

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

Never to see us drunk but they know wine is a feature of adult socialising and enjoyment alongside food etc. I don't drink at the moment (breastfeeding) but will have a glass of wine when children are in bed when children are older (1 year old approx). When children are small I will ensure I never have more than what will allow me to be responsible in an emergency. I think it is good for children to see adults consume alcohol in moderation.

GetKnitted Sun 03-Nov-13 21:54:57

I think any parent's drinking habits have a massive influence on the kids, though if taken to the extreme it can have the opposite effect. Our dc will never see us drunk

NettleTea Mon 04-Nov-13 16:41:55

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

Alcohol is just as important to talk about, and preferably before they start going out and getting paralytic!! My DD is 13 and she has the occassional drink when she is with me and others are drinking. Now is probably a good age to approach it, as I imagine that soon there will be parties where alcohol may be brought, even if its not intended or widespread.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

Well, as Ive already stated that I have allowed her some I think that probably answers the question!! Though she only really has 'tastes' - wine watered down etc. My DS has had a sip of beer at 7 - he didnt like it. I wouldnt let him drink yet, he is still far too young.

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

Neither I nor my DP have been drunk in front of the children. Both sets of grandparents have. DD found it really embarrasing.

stephgr Mon 04-Nov-13 21:08:15

1. I think you need to talk about alcohol whenever children ask about it. It is important.

2 I think there is benefit in allowing children under 16 to drink under supervision. I first tried wine when I was 13 and didn't like it so had no interest in alcohol until there was peer pressure several years later.

3 I definitely think behaviour impacts upon children. I have never let my children see me when I've had too much although their dad hasn't been so careful. I really don't like it when they see him drunk. I believe children can think getting drunk is acceptable and are more likely to drink or drink too much if they see their parents drunk but I do have a couple of friends who are tee-total because they had heavy-drinking parents and that has put them off.

MadMonkeys Wed 06-Nov-13 19:29:07

I will talk to my kids about it when the topic naturally arises, or certainly by the time they are around 8 or 9. They see us drink occasionally, but we never get drunk so they would never see us in that state. If they seem interested in discussing it when they are much younger that is fine with me.

allyfe Wed 06-Nov-13 20:14:10

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

My children are still young, and I haven't really thought about when I will talk to them about alcohol.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I find this advice a little confusing. When I was a child I used to be allowed to taste my Mum's cider, and my friends used to be allowed a small amount of wine. My friends in France were allowed a small amount of wine. I appreciate that wine is a drug and therefore it is not really ever good for you, so it makes sense that you shouldn't be allowed to drink it when you are young. But by making it 16, I think it will turn it into a right-of-passage experience. I wonder whether a small amount in a controlled environment with parents before that is a better way of teaching children about being responsible.

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

I am allergic to alcohol, and I have little empathy or understanding of why anyone would want to get drunk much beyond the age of 25. But here I differentiate between people who drink and people who are drunk. I would hate for my children to see their Dad drunk, or really to have to see anyone else drunk. But certainly, I think it normalises a level of alcohol consumption which is not healthy.

missorinoco Thu 07-Nov-13 13:29:53

How much of an influence......?

It will colour their opinions and decisions. DH occasionally has a wine or beer with a meal, mainly we have a glass or two at the weekend. They have never seen us drunk, I don't think I have been drunk since my eldest was born, but I wouldn't want them to.

Would I mind them seeing me tipsy? Probably not if they were older, but with small children I don't think I could parent well drunk, and I don't think it would be a good influence to see me drinking to the point I was tipsy and silly.

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Nov-13 15:06:47

Thank you everyone for adding your thoughts to the thread. This thread has now closed and final winner has been selected. Congratulations to MoogDroog, we'll be in touch shortly!

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