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About drinking alcohol in front of children?

(81 Posts)
stoopstofolly Sun 13-Oct-13 13:59:13

My DH and I are not big drinkers IMO(compared to our pre-children 20s!). We'll share a bottle of wine on Sat might if we're not going out and sometimes my husband had a bottle of beer in the evening after work. No more than 3 per week, as that's all I buy! We don't eat together much as a family during the week as DH works long hours , but always eat together every breakfast, Sat lunch and Sunday dinner. Sun dinner is at about 5.30. We've got into the habit if having a glass of wine at Sunday dinner (children are 7 and 3 and have water!). We don't drink the whole bottle at dinner- usually just a (large) glass, and then finish it sun evening/ Monday evening once children are in bed.
They have NEVER seen us drunk or really even tipsy.
My American friend was horrified by this- she said by drinking in front of the children on Sunday we were normalising alcohol use...
Now, I know that I'm exceeding the maximum daily units twice a week, but I hadn't really thought about what message this sends to the children. Do other people drink at family mealtimes or us my friend just reflecting a more puritanical American approach...?

MissMillament Sun 13-Oct-13 16:04:48

DH and I have always drunk wine in front of the DC. For us it is a normal part of a family meal. When we were on holiday in Europe this year my 16 year old DD was very pleased to note that at dinner the waiters automatically brought a wine glass for her as well as for DH and me. She filled it with water though because she chooses not to drink alcohol as she doesn't like the taste. If we had made a big mystery of it perhaps she would feel differently, I don't know. But I'm happy that she has a mature understanding of what drinking involves. You are doing the right thing.

kerala Sun 13-Oct-13 16:08:24

Our local hospital is at the end of our very short road so blows that "reason" for not drinking wine ever out of the water grin. We also have wine with meals at weekend in moderation and don't drink in the week (polishes halo). That said I crave my ice cold tonic water in a wine glass every evening at 6 ish witnessed by the kids but not actually an alcoholic drink hope am not irredeemably damaging them....

CoolStoryBro Sun 13-Oct-13 16:11:51

I was at a festival yesterday, packed with families and pretty much every adult was holding a beer. In America.

I agree with Ihavea. I've found my American friends to have very similar attitudes towards alcohol as my British friends. The big difference is that my American friends would never dream of offering their 16 year old a drink in a way my British friends do.

eurochick Sun 13-Oct-13 16:21:47

Alcohol is a perfectly normal part of life for most people in this country, so what's wrong with "normalising" it? It's available in every supermarket. There is a pub on pretty much every high street. Alcohol is available at pretty much every restaurant. It's a good thing for children to see adults enjoying alcohol in moderation.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 13-Oct-13 16:22:47

It's more the situation than the alcohol it's self that's going to damage or not damage the kids.

They don't even know what it is at that age. However if daddy went from being happy and chatty to agressive and nasty then yes kids would notice that those green cans daddy has make him go all mean. Much the same if you took them to a party and people were loud or staggering about holding bottles and glasses or someone was sat on their own on a park bench downing cans then of course those are situations kids would notice and be affected by.

If people are acting sensibly and normally I'm not even sure children would notice that they even had a bottle of wine. Unless they ask what it was.

stoopstofolly Sun 13-Oct-13 16:31:11

Thank you people (and apologies to any and all reasonable, moderately drinking Americans!) I added the nationality as a bit of context, as I have noticed that Americans I work with do (usually) drink substantially less than Brits. My last (US) boss booked a wonderful Xmas lunch one year. When asked how he afforded it (the per head allowance for Xmas festivities was not generous!) he said it was because he wasn't ordering ANY wine. He was a bit shocked at the response....grin

Teapot13 Sun 13-Oct-13 16:41:53

The American described in the OP doesn't reflect the "American approach" -- she's just bonkers.

Madratlady Sun 13-Oct-13 16:44:29

I think normalising alcohol use is a very good thing, it takes the mystery out of alcohol and demonstrates a responsible attitude to drinking (as long as it's just a glass or 2 as in your case and not several bottles).

If alcohol is seen as something mysterious or forbidden then when they get older children are more likely to drink too much and not behave in a safe way with alcohol in my opinion.

hootiemcboob Sun 13-Oct-13 16:50:44

US resident here. I was once told that my child wasn't allowed to push the cart in the grocery store, because it had a bottle of wine in it.

FatherHankTree Sun 13-Oct-13 16:51:03

It's odd how the American (I'm generalising hugely here) is different from the European perspective. I've noticed similar with coffee. In America, I gave DD a few sips of my coffee and Americans (relatives and people sitting nearby) were shocked. In Europe (by this I mean Germany, Austria and northern Italy) I've given DD weak coffee and no-one is shocked at all.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 13-Oct-13 16:52:07

shock would that go for tampons or condoms or DVDs above a pg? That's ridiculous, they see the shopping wherever they stand

SatinSandals Sun 13-Oct-13 16:53:16

My American friend was horrified by this- she said by drinking in front of the children on Sunday we were normalising alcohol use...

I should hope so too! If you go out for a meal in a good restaurant or to a celebration it is perfectly 'normal'. Drinking it with meals, in small quantities, regularly is a very good example to set.
I would just tell her that that is your intention and change the subject.

hootiemcboob Sun 13-Oct-13 16:56:10

I did laugh when she told me this, then went about my business!

hootiemcboob Sun 13-Oct-13 16:58:03

A girl my daughter know is not allowed to go to Starbucks, because they support gay rights. Mind boggling!

Venushasrisen Sun 13-Oct-13 17:03:34

DH worked for an American company - I remember feeling a bit confused at the annual Xmas dinner dance. Many Brits v drunk at the company's expense, ties loose, red faced, sweaty, Americans totally sober, leaving relatively early. Were the Brits making idiots of themselves or were the Americans boring and stuffy? Bit of both imo.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 13-Oct-13 17:20:18

I was a student for a while in a US state where liquor can only be purchased from special stores, put on brown paper bags and transported home in the boot of the car to protect the minors.
Then I saw what all these young people who had been protected from the liquor got up to in their Frat and Soriety houses when they arrived at college. Far, far great binge drinking than I ever saw at any UK Uni.
IMO children need to grow up seeing alcohol as something that is consumed in small quantities in a social setting.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 13-Oct-13 17:23:04

Oh yes, watch out fir those pesky gays at Starbucks confused

I should hope any business supports gay rights.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sun 13-Oct-13 17:26:01

I think children should see their parents drinking responsibly. I don't see a problem with it.

When we were younger we were allowed to drink with sunday dinner from about the age of 12. Nothing massive, just a little.

I think it helps to teach moderation.

HorryIsUpduffed Sun 13-Oct-13 17:31:11

FWIW at my school we were taught to drink responsibly (in theory) by having a Sixth Form Bar where you could have up to two alcoholic drinks a night from a limited selection, and formal dinners where a couple of glasses of wine were provided.

Conveniently forgets the vodka jelly in the U6 fridge and the Baileys under the bed

expatinscotland Sun 13-Oct-13 17:34:06

Americans can be very silly about alcohol, probably why they have such a HUGE problem with class A drugs over there.

thebody Sun 13-Oct-13 17:38:56

I think your American friend needs to ponder for a moment on how many children are shot to death in her country on a daily basis.

how many children go hungry.

that the adult politicians are so against free health care that they are prepared to bankrupt their economy to prevent it.

don't think we need to take lessons in parenthood from America to be honest.

sensible drinking in front if children and then with them when they are old enough is perfectly normal.

cory Sun 13-Oct-13 17:41:02

I don't drive anyway and dh didn't either when dc were little so any late night trip to the hospital would always have to be done courtesy of the local taxi company.

And personally I am well capable of having a class of wine with my supper without ending up in such a state that I can't make a rational decision.

Now that dd is old enough to go to unsupervised parties where alcohol is present I am glad that she is aware that ordinary sensible people can be around alcohol without ending up rat arsed.

If it was something that was so uncontrollable that you couldn't possibly have it around without it getting out of hand, then I'd worry a lot more for dd when she goes partying.

Beastofburden Sun 13-Oct-13 17:55:21

Oh for heavens sake, nobody is saying get drunk or tipsy when in charge of kids. If they need hospital you get a taxi or an ambulance.

Agree that teen binge drinking, and young adult binge drinking is a big issue, but I don't think it is caused by examples of moderate drinking. Of my 3 DC, the two over 18 one doesn't drink and the others, a student, drinks maybe twice a week, and I think he has got drunk ,about four times in his life, none recently.

Off to pour a glass of wine. Yes, in front of DD.

BigDomsWife Mon 14-Oct-13 16:16:47

Agree with beastofburden - If there was an emergency situation with one of my Children, I would prefer to get a Taxi as I would be too panicky to drive.

As mentioned earlier my Parents NEVER had a drink . . . in front of me. I used to spend time thinking about alcohol and wishing I could have a drink but knowing there was something 'wrong' with it. I am seriously against making a huge deal out of alcohol when children are present. Please believe be that in this day & age, hiding things will only encourage it. My 3 year old has asked me if she could try my drink but I tell her 'you wont like the taste' for now. Im planning on letting her taste Wine when she is older.

Lweji Mon 14-Oct-13 16:21:30

I do think it's the parent's responsibility to demonstrate responsible drinking to the children.

If you were getting drunk, then it would be different.

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