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Do the French really give their children wine?

(23 Posts)
merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:04:09

Can any French or those with experience of things French tell me if it is true that French children are given wine from a very early age? If it is true, is it a tiny amount neat, or is it diluted? And what is the thinking behind it?

mummytosteven Fri 15-Apr-05 22:05:17

not French, but brought up jewish, and I had wine at religious occasions from an early age - think it started off being diluted with water or lemonade.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:20:46

MTS, would you do the same with your own children? Do you think that having wine on religious occasions gave it a special-ness that hleps teach respect for alcohol? Or am I being far to romantic???

crystaltips Fri 15-Apr-05 22:22:54

My kids cannot understand why DH and I drink alcohol ( thankfully ) ... I would often offer them a sip - but thankfully they hate the taste ... don't want to tell them that you have to gulp it down until to acquire the taste

bran Fri 15-Apr-05 22:24:49

My db and I were given wine from a very young age at mealtimes when the adults were having wine. Ours was diluted about 1 part wine to 4 parts water. It wasn't really presented as a treat just as the thing that you drink at special meals. Both of us are very moderate drinkers now and neither of us really went through that binge thing that teenagers often do when they don't know when to stop drinking.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:27:41

bran, how do you think that works? Do you think it is the association of wine with meals / social occasions that is the key, or is it something else?

WestCountryLass Fri 15-Apr-05 22:28:51

When I nannied in France the kids I cared for weren't given any. They were between the age of 3 and 7.

Hulababy Fri 15-Apr-05 22:28:51

When we went to the champagne cavs, when DD was 18 months the Frenh there gave DD a glass of pink champagne, and seemed taken aback a bit when we refused it for her!

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:28:57

Sorry, not v clear last post - what I mean is, I got the feeling bran that you think your later avoidance of binge drinking etc could be linked to being given wine from an early age - what I wonder is how that works?

mummytosteven Fri 15-Apr-05 22:29:58

i think it only worked temporarily at giving me a sensible attitude toward alcohol - i didn't go through a teenage drink drinking too much phase, but I did a bit when I started work after uni - quite a heavy drinking on friday night environment.

mummytosteven Fri 15-Apr-05 22:30:41

i wouldn't do the same with DS - don't actually like wine very much - would be more likely to let him have some beer once he was 11/12 ish with a meal

bran Fri 15-Apr-05 22:34:18

I think the difference is that we learnt to drink mostly in moderation without necessarily getting drunk. I've never had a problem with just having one drink for instance, most people seem to drink more the more they drink IYSWIM, they only intend to have one or two but then their resistance is down and the end up making a night of it.

I think it's because most people only start drinking when they're teenagers which is a time that you feel that if a little is good then a lot must be better, then by the time they're in their twenties a pattern is already set. I'm not saying I never get drunk, but I never get drunk unintentionally.

jennifersofia Fri 15-Apr-05 22:40:00

We give our young children their own little shot glass of 'wine' that is 1 tsp wine to rest water if they ask for it at family occasions. We treat it as no big deal, really they want to join in with what we are doing (having a sociable family meal all sitting around the table) and get great enjoyment out of participating in the 'toast' that comes with drinking wine.
I wasn't given alcohol as a child, my husband (who is 1/2 French) was - we both drink an average of 1 bottle of wine between us a week. Both children have been 'baptised' by their French great auntie with a touch of champagne on the lips when they were babies. Basically I feel like it is best to be moderate and relaxed about it, and let the children see it in the larger atmosphere of part of occasional social celebrations.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:45:12

Thanks for posts. Am currently trying to get my head around complex alcohol issues within my household. I am a very moderate drinker, my parents hardly drank, my mother has a strong disapproval of alcohol mostly she says because she so often as a child was the one who had to go and get her father out of the pub (and I guess he was at least a little merry). Dp is a heavy drinker, with a heavy drinking father. I am struggling to separate my "conditioning" via my family background, from my problems with dp's drinking - I don't want to adopt an unnecessarily puritan approach which may give dd confusing messages. (I have a glass of wine beside me as I type BTW). So have been wondering about the age from which alcohol might be introduced to dd, and in what context.

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 22:50:10

I had watered down wine at meals from when I was about six. My mum actually wanted to make sure that by the time I was a teenager I could handle my drink - that it would take a lot for someone to be able to get me drunk. I did drink quite a bit as a teen but not binge drinking - my mum's plan had worked in that sense . What I think would have been even more helpful is the idea that drinking is no big deal. Every family celebration, even every weekend, was accompanied by lots of booze. My dad isn't a big drinker, but a lot of the adults around me went to huge lengths to drink at social occasions, arguing over driving and duty free - the message was that you can't have a good time without alcohol. It woul dhave been better to have had some times with alcohol, some without, and no big deal made of it either way. Now I rarely drink - I don't like the feeling of being out of control and have spent most of the past four years either pg or bf so would probably keel over at so much as a sniff of a decent claret.

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 22:52:41

Sorry merrygoround - crossed posts. That's a difficult situation for you. Does your dd see your dp drinking? My guess is that she's likely to be put off alcohol rather than finding it attractive.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:59:17

Ionesmum, yes dd does see dp drinking, eg from a can in front of TV. It is something I have said I don't like, and he is trying harder at the moment to do that less often. I am struck by the idea that seeing your parents being relaxed both with AND without alcohol is very important.

I have not discussed idea of introducing dd to wine with dp - but bet anything he would be horrified!!!

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:14:18

It doesn't sound like your dd is going to see a particularly attractive side to drinking. Do you mean thta your dp would be bothered about your dd drinking any alcohol, or wine in particular?

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 23:28:46

I just think dp would find it wrong to give a child alcohol. On the lines of it being something for adults only. Like my dad who was a chain smoker but went ballistic when he caught my brother smoking. Of course my brother was a teenager, and dd is only 3. BTW I think I gathered from an earlier internet search that it is legal to give a child alcohol once they are 5 years old. Or maybe that was just in Scotland.

What I am trying to say is that I think dp has a limited perception of what his drinking is doing. He cannot imagine that dd is capable at her young age of being influenced by it. Which is why I wonder about the French, if they are influenced in a POSITIVE way by early exposure to drink (if indeed they are all drinking thimblefulls with their dinner).

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:35:21

Hmmm, a bit of a problem.

Yes, it is legal for children to drink at home over the age of five.

The French do have wine from an early age and don't have a binge drinking culture. Not sure about actual alcoholism though. My wine cup as a little girl was bought for me by my nan in Paris

Your dp seems to be taking a 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude - just like your dad in fact. Which presumably is what your dp has done watching his dad. Have you talked to dp about his experience of his dad's drinking?

Jimjams Fri 15-Apr-05 23:41:37

from about the age of 9 my parents used to give me watered down wine with sunday meals etc (equivalent volumes to squash- so very watered), I don't have a drink problem but I've certainly got too drunk on many occasions in my youth!

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 23:54:55

Searched internet earlier and it seems that there is a warm fuzzy glow about French drinking that is not completely born out by statistics. Men over 40 appear to have health problems caused by alcohol use just as much as anywhere else. I'd have to read it all again but I gathered that for French health workers the stereotype that drinking a little every day is positively good for you has become a dangerous myth.

Ione's mum, dp and I have had tentative conversations about his father's drinking, but it is hard and something probably best done with a counsellor. (We are currently waiting, had a little counselling last year, but counsellor got sick). Dp has a lot of blinkers about his dad - of all his siblings (there were 7 of them) he is the most like his father with regard to drinking habits, and yet is the only one who (at least until we had dd) did not speak to his dad.

ionesmum Sat 16-Apr-05 10:29:17

I hope you manage to get to see a counsellor soon, and that you and dp manage to sort things out.

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