Alcohol and Kids

Updated on November 01, 2012
A.J. asks from Norristown, PA
18 answers

I parent my kids (6, 4, 3) pretty much alone. Because it is a PRIORITY to me that the kids don't get into drinking excessively if I can help it as their main influence, we (the kids and I) have a very open dialogue about alcohol. Their dad, my soon to be ex, is a fairly heavy drinker. That is not related to split, he's rarely home and kids never see him drink-he holds his alcohol well and has never been drunk around them. He drinks a few beers or glasses of wine after they go to bed. His drinking was not a problem in our marriage, he just drinks often while on tour as a musician. My main concern is that he has quite a bit of alcoholism in his family. His mom is an alcoholic, and when the kids spend time with that side of the family, they see everyone drinking a lot.(hopefully they won't get much time with them after split). So I'm CONCERNED about their influences.

I'm a light-moderate drinker with no alcoholism in my side of the family. I've never seen my parents drunk OR have more than one drink in a blue moon. I have one glass of wine per night or not. I can go weeks with none and not care at all. I do drink a glass of wine occasionally at home in front of the kids since I NEVER go out, and they know that more than that is not OK and that I NEVER drink in a restaurant before driving. My precocious 6 year old daughter is into that phase where she loves "knowing and following" rules, so she's always keeping verbal tabs of the situation. The other night I had an art opening and brought her with me, and in the car she said all proud of herself, "and remember Mom, no wine because we're driving." (BUMMER! To be honest, after meeting deadline for show and being so nervous, I actually WAS going to nurse half a glass of wine while snacking and chatting at an ART OPENING for god sakes but FAIR enough, I had to live up to my word and it was too late to leave daughter home :) THEN we came home, parked the car and walked across the street to a friend's costume party where I did have a beer before leaving at 10:30 (woo-hoo, party life). A friend came up and said, "Your daughter is so cute, she just told a whole group of us in the kitchen that it was OK her mom was having a beer because you guys walked here and you live right across the street" (little monitor!!!!!)

So anyway. When her dad is here, he of course doesn't think of setting an example and will have a beer with a dinner in a restaurant and still drive. As a 200+ man with a high tolerance and a big meal, I know this is fine, but I guess I need to ask him not to do that? Just hesitating because it's a battle with him to say anything like that with his adult ODD (not real diagnosis, just personality). Or do I just continue to drive when he has a drink with dinner? What about when I'm not there? It's best to model NO DRINKING AND DRIVING right? My daughter did point out to me last time he visited and we all went to a restaurant that he was drinking at dinner and that he shouldn't drive, and I felt very weird saying "Well he's big and eating a lot so one glass of wine......." so instead I didn't drink my glass of wine and explained that I drove and DID NOT drink. Husband didn't notice my little speech to kids though and just ordered another glass for himself since I was so kindly driving :(

What do you consider a healthy example to kids on this? Do you ever let anyone have a drink with a family restaurant dinner and then drive?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

@Cheryl B, the alcoholism is on his side not mine, but point taken, thanks!

Yeah I think what a lot of you are saying is right, at this point I wish I had never said anything about it until the kids are older since we are responsible about it to begin with. I know it sounds from this post like she parents me or I answer to her, but that honestly isn't the case. She was just given the information about not drinking and driving and is running with it, and very proud of the knowledge like anything else so she's talking about it a lot-that and leaf species from a nature day of leaf she's pointing out leaves EVERYWHERE...she just gets fixated on information for a bit once she learns it.. She doesn't really understand the gravity of accidents and stuff of course. I'm sure her dad will happily not drink in restaurants if I tell him. Somehow it became an "issue" and I sort of didn't mean for it to. Thanks mommas!

Featured Answers



answers from Harrisburg on

My college roommate lost her brother to a drunk driver. That was over 30 years ago. I watched her go through hell because someone else was so selfish he couldn't restrain himself. I don't care if it's just a little, and he's a big guy, he is still impaired and it's illegal. I will NEVER drink and drive. It's just not worth it. I'm not opposed to drinking, but will not drink and drive or ride with anyone who does. The options are easy. Either drink at home, or have a designated driver.

Does that sound preachy to some? Maybe. Probably. But if you'd lost someone you love to a drunk driver (or watched a dear friend suffer through it), you might feel differently.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I personally would not drive even after one drink. I am not quite 100lbs and rarely drink, so one glass of wine really makes me loopy. IF hubby chooses to have a beer or two at dinner, then I drive home. We choose to live by example and the example we are setting is "Don't Drink & Drive".

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Dallas on

It's safe to have 1 glass of wine/beer and drive. IMO, it's safe to have more than that, but the legal BA limit is set so low... "legally drunk" wouldn't phase me at all, honestly.

More important than that, I don't answer to my kids, and neither does my husband. I don't have to justify my every move to a child. Model responsible behavior to them, and they will follow suit. Almost seems like your daughter is parenting you.

Also, it seems to me like you are elevating this to an extreme level of importance. Is that really necessary? We teach our kids right/wrong, but it seems you're teaching your child to fear alcohol, which isn't exactly healthy, IMO.

ETA: I apologize if I'm coming across as judg-y and I don't think I answered your question. A healthy example to my kids is not drinking & driving. 1 or 2 drinks is fine, depending on your tolerance. My husband & I pretty much always drink at home.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think it's fine to have ONE drink and drive. Especially if he's a big guy and has a big meal with it. I know plenty of people who drink more and are fine...but it is what it is. I don't drink, so I wouldn't know my limit and I wouldn't try it, ever.

I think you need to teach your kids there is an okay way to consume alcohol and a not okay way to consume alcohol. I think your husband is okay, but if it bothers you, say something to him. Or better yet, can you do the driving home?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

Your doing a good job of explaining it to the kids. There will always be people who put their lives (and ours) at risk by drinking and driving. Now comes explaining why people shouldn't drink too much.
I wish all parents were that considerate. I just extended an open invitation to my daughters friend to come over day or night if need be because she has been coming home from school to find her mother drunk this last few weeks.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

A., I think that the healthiest thing to do is not talk about it so much with your kids, especially your 6 year old. She is thinking an awful lot about drinking, and talking a lot about it too. By pointing out that you are doing this and aren't doing that, she is only seeing a small side of it. She is too young still to understand that a 200 plus pound man can drink a beer and an hour later be fine to drive.

Honestly, I think young teen years are better for this sort of thing. They can put together the different facets of it in their brains whereas little kids cannot.

Your husband should be able to drink a beer or glass of wine when he wants to. If you really don't want any alcohol of any sort being consumed by a driver, then forego it yourself. Or, before going somewhere, ask him if he will play designated driver for the evening so that you can have a glass of wine.

The point is, don't give the speeches to your children at this point. You are not actually getting the point you want across to them. But you are risking demonizing your husband in their eyes, without meaning to.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hubby and I virtually NEVER drink. I have had two cocktails over the last 18 months. BUT when I did have those cocktails, it wasn't until I made sure hubby had no interest in having a drink and he would be driving. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN DRINKING AND DRIVING. Period.

I work in criminal defense and it always makes me laugh when DUI clients have their driver's licenses suspended and then call me up and ask ME just how I expect them to get to work with a suspended license. I simply tell them that I have NO expectations of them and if they need to take the 30 days off work and stay home, it's okay with me.

They also make me laugh when I say something about a criminal case and they come back with "i'm not a criminal." Well, you are now!

Since there is alcoholism on your side of the family, you are right to have and keep an open dialogue with your kids about alcoholism since they will be prone to it. They need to understand that when they're in high school and are tempted to drink by their friend who says he drinks every weekend and it's no big deal, that for them it WILL be a big deal. Weekend drinking will be the catalyst that begins their alcoholism.

Your kids need to not only be concerned with drinking and driving, but also with their predisposition to alcoholism. Please continue the dialogue but open it up to include this aspect.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think what your daughter said to you at the art opening is a bit shocking.
I mean, at her age, I don't think you really need to be discussing the effects of drinking and driving with her, she's only six, and the last thing a six year old should be worrying about is mommy's alcohol consumption.
You may think "it's never too early" but actually, sometimes it is. Don't you see that you may just be giving her something to worry about that she shouldn't even be THINKING about?
Most people can have a glass or two over the course of a meal and be JUST fine, so unless you or your husband are drinking more than that try to relax and lead your kids by example.
You can talk about this more with them as they get older, like around ten, but for now this is something you shouldn't be burdening them with :(

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

To me it sounds like your soon to be ex husbands drinking was a bigger problem than you are leading on.

Since you were affected by his drinking and his adultery, and like you said; you're alone with the kids all day everyday; you talked about adult issues with your kiddos. Now your 6 yr old sees how drinking affected you so now she is holding onto it; kind of like protecting mommy.

Personally I think you need to come up with something to let her know that she shouldn't worry about adult issues.

Best wishes

BTW My mother died of alcoholism at the young age of 44. This November will be 14 yrs that she's been gone. Please don't let your daughter hold on to this burden of worrying about alcohol. I have so much pain that I've had to be burdened with at a very young age.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We don't drink alcohol often, but when we do we don't hide it from our son.
We have an occasional glass of wine maybe once a month.
My husband likes drinking a beer about as often.
We drink at home or at neighborhood parties/barbeques - so we walk home.
Alcohol is for adults - our son knows that - we tell him.
We also have alcoholic relatives - we tell our son the results of their drunken exploits (arrests, foreclosures, custody difficulties, hospitalization, AA meetings, health issues (liver and diabetes, etc) and what a horrible thing it is to be addicted to anything (alcohol, nicotine, drugs, gambling, there are a lot of pretty horrible addictions alcoholism being only one of them).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I totally get the situation you're describing.
Default back to "if you're driving, NO drinking."
I know you obviously can do that and DO do that.
If your STB Ex cannot model that for his kids on the rare occasion it's needed, then I would be concerned.
A rational person would surely honor that request where it involves his/her own children, so I'd broach that subject before the next visit.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sometimes i wonder if there's any "right" answer and it's just luck and genetics that determines what happens. My dad drank and drove a fair amount with us! Not "drunk" but he's a drinker and likely there were times he did have one too many to be driving. We're more cautious given everyone's more aware now of the danger but I don't think what he did influenced me really. It seems to be an innate thing about how people handle alcolhol. My inlaws have alcoholism too so I'm not unsympathetic and wonder what to do. But I don't think my husband and I NEVER having one drink and driving is going to make that big a diffferent or a difference at all. I'm hoping an open dialogue and showing them safe ways to drink will help. One drink and driving is perfectly legal unless I guess you're on medication so it seems to be goign overboard and may make situations impractical for your children some day. In my peer group, no one ever says they can't drink bc of ONE drink. What I plan to do is be open with my kids that they may have a tendency to become an alcoholic so they have to be more careful than the average person. My friend has that situation via his uncle and it's very much on his mind and I thik has helped him stay under control.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I never let my kids ride with anyone that's been drinking. That is not a good example. You need to ask him if he can not drink and drive with them in the car. I would also talk to your attorney and see if it can be an issue that can be pushed so that he only have supervised visitation. Luckily my husband does not drink so I don't have to worry about having a drink with dinner out not that I do that very often. But since your daughter is the drinking and driving police in your family I am sure if he does you will hear about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have a hard time with this issue and would tell my kids. We don't drink and drive period. I don't care if he had one or not. I don't think that having alcohol at dinner is acceptable when you are driving little kids around. If you want to drink a few at home and are staying home--by all means. But I have lost family to drunk drivers and you would be suprised at the amount of people who are taking PRESCRIPTION drugs and it is contraindicated with alcohol and drink anyways. They then become so much more effected by alcohol then they would be with one drink. That is why I really don't like drinking period.

As for your husband's example : NO he shouldn't be drinking and driving. Tell him that its a bad example for your kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I think it'svery important to teach children that NOBODY should drive after drinking. Not even if it's just one drink.

Children at her age are pretty pragmatic when it comes to that kind of stuff. They don't have a lot of room in their brains for the abstract. I would talk to you hubby. Maybe he could have his "one beer" in a more...camouflaged cup?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We are drinkers. I don't plan on discussing the effects of alcohol with my children till they are older. Not sure how much older, but there is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine and driving a car, if you are within the legal limits.

I grew up in a home where my parents had a scotch every night. My father would come home from work, and pour them both a scotch. He would then visit with my mom and help her cook dinner. When there were guests, they would drink, sometimes a lot. When I was around 13, I started drinking with my friends. I was super responsible, never got in a car with someone that had been drinking, and I called my parents for rides. My parents would drink when we'd go out and then drive us home. Like a said, a glass of wine, or a few drinks, over a 5 hour period is well within legal limits.

I think teaching responsibility is the key here. There is nothing wrong with drinking, if you do it responsibly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have never nor will I ever drink and drive my child. Why? That's nuts IMHO.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

DH and I are moderate drinkers. We enjoy a glass of wine or 2 on occasion after the kids are in bed. Usually on weekends. DH enjoys an occasional bottle of beer at home, never more than one at time. If we go out to a restaurant as a family, I almost always order a soda. Sometimes DH has a beer or two. He does not get drunk. But if he has had drinks, I drive. Either one of us would probably drive just fine if we only had one drink, but why risk it? I can feel the impact of just one drink, although I'm confident I could handle driving after one, I just avoid being in that position. Our kids notice when we switch drivers. We don't spend a great deal of time lecturing, but we don't hide why it is just a smart thing to do to never drive even under a small amount of alcohol. We tell them this is what we do to responsible and absolutely sure everyone is the safest. That one does not have to be falling down, silly, drunk to be an impaired driver. I wouldn't want them to drive after one drink, so I don't set that example.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions