if you allow your 16 year old to drink a half glass of wine, at home...at the dinner table...does that make you a criminally bad parent? or a european?
maybe its okay to allow your teen to try alcohol while they are at home, under supervision. the drinking age in many parts of this country is 21. which...works really well. i'm sure there is not a single college student in america who hasn't tried a beer before reaching college age. by setting the drinking age at 21...well past the legal age for just about every other adult activity known to humankind...we've done a real good job of curbing binge drinking and alcoholism in this country, right? maybe its time to re-think our approach to teenagers and drinking.
some countries, china, greece, australia (depending on whom your company is), and switzerland, have no minimum drinking age. and in many countries that have no laws regarding private consumption, there are minimum ages for the purchase and public consumption of alcohol. but there has always been a cultural divide separating the american approach to "underage" drinking and the old world approach.
in most european countries, minimum legal drinking age is 16. in japan you have to wait until you are 20. in many european households, children younger than 16 are given small glasses of wine, or half glasses of beer.
i remember going to an italian friend's house many years ago, when i was a teenager. i was stunned to see he was given a small glass of wine at the dinner table by his parents. i was not offered any wine...because i was not their child...and they respected that is not how it was done in american homes. but, by teaching teenagers how to drink responsibly...and in moderation...i think you teach them how to drink in a civilized fashion. you teach them that it is not some forbidden fruit. they did not have to go out to a football field with their friends and drink 18 beers.
some may argue that by giving even a taste of alcohol is a horrible mistake. i'm not suggesting parents should throw keg parties in the back yard for their high school aged children, under the misguided notion that it is better for the kids to get plastered at home than at some unknown locale. nor am i saying that mom and dad should get plastered at the dinner table with their offspring.
but the idea that parents can somehow discourage thier child from drinking (or smoking pot...or engaging in physical contact with thier peers) by banning it...just plain isn't going to work. when i was in college, many of the kids who got into binge drinking and other forms of acting out were often the ones who came from the strictest households.
i am a parent. my oldest is only 15. so i have no idea...yet...what it is like to watch my 16 year old walk out the door on a friday evening and worry about what is waithing out there. but i can imagine i would know what it is like for a 40-something parent who drank at 17 to forbid his 17 year old to do the same. those who favor abstinence, whether it involves sex, or alcohol, say that the "kids are going to do it anyway" rationale is no excuse for condoning such behavior. but you know what? kids are going to do it anyway. after we are finished teaching values...and completed discussions about the dangers of certain behaviors and thier inherant risks...they are going to do it anyway.
just say no has never worked. maybe its time to say just say moderation.