Giving your grandkids a sip of beer? A taste of tipple could topple them

Aug 12, 2021
How much harm is alcohol actually causing? Source: Getty

Whether it’s letting the kids have a sip of wine here and there or a taste of beers at Christmas, many parents believe that supervised drinking could facilitate a more responsible relationship with alcohol, but experts warn it doesn’t and is actually putting them at risk. Growing up, our parents allowed us to drink here and there, and many of us instilled the same parenting technique with our kids later on, so did drinking alcohol underage affect our relationship with alcohol?

On Thursday the Australian Institute of Family Studies released the report which revealed parents who allow underage children to drink alcohol are putting them at an increased risk of harm, according to a new study.

The report interviewed almost 3,000 teenagers and families and found that more than a quarter of Australians aged 16 and 17 were allowed to drink alcohol at home. The report also found that 18 per cent of teens (within two years of the legal drinking age) were allowed to take alcohol to parties or events.

Of the teens with parental permission to drink, 23 per cent said they’d experienced some sort of alcohol-related harm, including regrettable sexual encounters and getting into fights, compared to 17 per cent of those without parental permission.

Dr Brendan Quinn, lead researcher of the report, told Sunrise the findings exposed the risks of underage alcohol use at home or at parties, saying parents should encourage their children to delay their first drink for as long as possible.

“We might think that if we allow teenagers drink alcohol in environments that we consider to be safe or low risk, such as at home or with supervision, that we’re possibly teaching them to develop a responsible relationship with alcohol,” he said. “But our findings show that we’re actually putting them at increased risk of experiencing related harms.

“Research suggests early alcohol use could lead to harmful drinking practices, both now and later in life.”

The report also found that parents who frequently drank resulted in a greater likelihood of allowing their children to drink. Quinn said parents and carers play a critical role in helping prevent – or delay – a young person’s initial use of alcohol and encouraged adults to “try and delay alcohol use for as long as possible”.

People were quick to jump on social media to share their thoughts, with many saying they’d let their kids drink as teens with no ill effects.

“Load of garbage. Most of my adult children don’t drink at all,” one woman said, while another wrote simply, “[I] disagree with this so much.”

Some brought up European drinking culture, with some countries allowing children to drink in restaurants so long as they’re accompanied by an adult, with one commenting: “In Italy, 10-year-olds can drink at a restaurant and it never hurt them.”

While others were just frustrated at parents being criticised with one writing: “Everything parents do is wrong, harmful, frowned upon bla bla bla bla. Let parents be.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Were you allowed to drink as a kid? What do you think of this research?

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