Serving Alcohol to Minors

Updated on January 24, 2012
C.W. asks from Union Hall, VA
36 answers

I had just finished typing an answer to a post...and I sent it...and 'poof' it disappeared!

I thought it was a legit question...

How do YOU feel about parents serving alcohol to minors?

Evidently, there was a site posted for a discussion regarding this...maybe that is why it was pulled.

For *me*...I wish the drinking age was still 18. I think if you are able to be are old enough to drink.

I also worked a few years in college/university in NY before the drinking age became 21. Parties in the residence halls were 'applied' for...chaperoned...and the amount of alcohol was monitored. It was a 'more' controlled learning environment IMO.


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answers from Des Moines on

I would NEVER serve alcohol to minors, except for my own son, in small amounts, when he's older.

But I totally think we as a society need to pick an age for adulthood and stick to it.

I got MARRIED when I was 20. I would have been WAY better off with a beer!

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answers from Atlanta on

I also think the drinking age should be 18! I fully expect my kids to try booze in high school. We are educating them and talking about alcohol and drugs, but I certainly drank a lot as a teen and I don't want them to be as careless as I was and I also don't want to have my head in the sand about it. I would have words with a parent who served a teen of mine though! Unless, for some not yet foreseen reason I had said it was okay. I will never serve a minor in my home. Waaaayyy to much liability and problems stem from that! I am stunned every spring when the inevitable news story comes out about some senior's parents who bought kegs for the graduation party! Yeah, I may think they should be able to drink at 18 (just like I think pot should be legal), but as long as it's illegal, my kids need to fully understand the consequences, and I will not be enabling anyone!

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answers from Norfolk on

I was in college the same time and went from being able to legally drink to not, then back again.
There were a lot of freshman/sophomores who did not handle alcohol well.
All they were interested in was getting blotto falling down puking can't remember what happened last night drunk.
Most eventually got sick and tired of the hangovers and feeling sick and tired, and the expense and learned what their limit was, but a few died of alcohol poisoning, or driving drunk.
Although some could drink responsibly at 18 and 19, I thought raising the drinking age to 21 was a good idea.
The smell of vomit all over the dorm bathrooms/floors was beyond disgusting.

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answers from Washington DC on


**I** can serve alcohol to my children - but I don't want others doing it.

When I was a kid - I was allowed to taste drinks, etc. - alcohol was NEVER taboo for me. I think that's why I had no problems in high school - when other kids wanted to go sneak a drink or something like that? I didn't need to. If I wanted to try it - my parents let me.

So if my kids want to TRY IT - I will give it to them in my home. Not at a restaurant.

I agree with you about the drinking age - however, there are some 18 year olds who aren't mature enough to handle a drivers license let alone alcohol!! LOL!!!

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answers from Seattle on

My personal thoughts are multifold:

1) is that the drinking age should be BELOW the driving age. Learn you can't operate a bicycle or your own 2 feet, a few years before getting behind the wheel of a 2000 pound battering ram capable of going over 100mph.

2) is that in every other arena parents have a degree of control/influence over their children/young adults. By making drinking not just taboo, but illegal, there is no way for a parent to guide their children in this NOR to have open parental talks with other parents surrounding drinking in the home.

3) At 17, in the military, I drank. Rather a lot, actually. The whole "you can die tomorrow" thing really changes the culture one lives in. Rules surround sex, alcohol, and friendship alter drastically. No one I personally know waited until 21 to drink. Heck, a majority of enlisted people were OUT before or shortly after they turned 21. 4 year contracts, starting at age 17 or 18... mean that theoretically one can not drink legally at all during their contract.

4) Countries which DO have early drinking ages have widely variable results. Some, like NZ have quite a problem with teen drinking. Others, like many places in the EU, have almost no problem with teen drinking. I suspect that altering the age downward would create HUGE problems for the first generation allowed, and that as a society we don't have the patience for even 4 years, much less 10 or 15. So even if the laws were altered, I doubt they'd be kept. Although, I think that just like financial emancipation (which only happens in the military... if you serve, you no longer have to claim your family's income in a FAFSA, for example), it only makes sense to alter the drinking age for the military.

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answers from San Antonio on

Growing up we were allowed to have a small glass ( sip or two) of wine for special occaions and holidays. I have never been a big drinker but I do enjoy a glass of wine or beer every now and then ( when not pregnant of course). I guess since I was raised with it as a "normal" thing and not anything to hide neither my brother or I got out of control in high school college. I guess it depends a lot on the parents and the children.

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answers from New York on

this is no longer a moral question, if you serve alcohol to minors (other than your own children) you could be taken to court. You could lose everything. Not worth the risk.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Adults have trouble being responsible with their would only be worse.

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answers from Richmond on

I think it is important to introduce alcohol to children slowly. We have given our now 15 yo a sip of champagne at weddings and on New Years. He had a sip of wine when a friend came over a few weeks ago. We try not to make it so taboo so it isn't a huge deal when he goes off to college in a couple of years. My parents and my husband's both gave us very limited amounts of alcohol while growing up. He did drink his fair share in college but was always cautious with it - no drunk driving, etc. I quickly realized it wasn't that big of a deal and have only gotten drunk a handful of times. That said, I absolutely do not agree with people letting their underage kids have keggers at their house esp. when the parents aren't home (a HUGE problem in our area).

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answers from Cumberland on

Parents serving one of their own children (over 18) alcohol in their home with no opportunity of driving and limited in amount is one thing-but giving alcohol to children other than your own is criminal.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

How do I feel about (other) parents serving alcohol to minors? I think it really depends.

For example: Are the children taking communion? Are they taking a medicine? Are they drinking a Kombucha or another slightly fermented beverage?

Are they 3, 13, 18 or 20?

Is it the child's wedding? Is it a holiday? What is the family's cultural background and what significance does alcohol have to them? Are they drinking with food?

What type of alcohol is being served? Mead, wine, beer, vodka, whiskey? What is the alcohol percentage? In what quantity?

Are they giving their friend's children alcohol, or just their own children? Where do they keep their alcohol?

Where do they live? Is the child about to leave? Will he/she/they be driving? Do they have access to a car? Are their friends present? Their other family members? Are they drinking alone? What will be their B.A.C. when they finish drinking?
Me personally? Nope, I wouldn't let my kids drink alcohol. First, they're 3 and 4 years old. Secondly, I don't drink, so you could imagine how THAT would look, "Sorry CPS, I just thought I should expose my 4 y/o to alcohol SOME how, so I bought them a fifth of rum. What's the problem?"

Tee hee hee. Kidding, that's not what you meant, I know.

When my kids are teenagers? Oh goodness, I really don't know.

If my mom were to pour them a glass of wine when they are 18, as she did for me? Hmmmm....In theory, I don't have a problem with it. "The Law" bit doesn't really push me one way or the other.

But here's part of my puzzle:

My four year old has most of the markers for addiction - prenatal and neonatal stress, exposure to opiates while fetus and breastfeeding, early childhood trauma, maternal and paternal addiction, etc.

She still doesn't feel entirely comfy in her body, has trouble coping with big feelings, feels like an outsider, and we're in the process of diagnosing her neurodisorder.

There's a LOT there and I do fear she'll find a way to self medicate before she's found a sustainable way to gain balance and relief. I'm not sure where she'll be when she's 5, 13, 17. Hopefully, she'll be whole, know herself, and trust her own internal value.

I do feel worried that, if she finds a substance/behavior before she finds herself, that she my may fall in love, and that she would loose herself in the process. I've watched that happen with her bio mom, my sister.

My plan? Set fluid boundaries, model healthy behavior to the best of my ability, TALK openly, love 'em like crazy.

Anyway. I'm just not sure where we'll be in ten, fifteen years. At THIS point, no, I wouldn't give my children alcohol and I cannot foresee a situation where I would buy or serve them alcohol from my own kitchen/pocket.
I think in order to really properly answer this question, I'd have to also answer these questions:

- What causes addiction?

- How can we prevent addiction?

- Can legislation help to prevent addiction and reduce the societal cost and harm of addiction? In what ways? What is the expense? Is current legislation effective in reducing rates of addiction/crime rates?

- What regard do we, as individuals, have for The Law? Do we hold The Law supreme? Do we create our own rules and guidelines? Do we always fully adhere to the law at all times?

- What are the risks and harms of drinking alcohol. What are the risks and harms of children (under the age of 18) and young adults (18-20) drinking alcohol?

- What's our family histories relationship w/ alcohol? What markers for addiction do our children have? How do we, as adults, drink?

Ditto Riley's #1

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answers from San Francisco on

Well I wouldn't serve it/provide it to anyone else's children (I'm as afraid of liability issues the next person) but when my son came home from his first semester at college and asked if he could have a beer during our family Christmas dinner I said yes.
My daughters (ages 12 & 16) flipped out, mom, how could you?!
I said because he's in college, I know EXACTLY what goes on there, and a beer or two is no problem in my book.
I also reminded my 16 year old that she was allowed to drink beer and wine (yes I signed off on it) on a supervised trip to Europe this past summer, and as soon as she makes it into college I'll let her have a drink with the family too ;)

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answers from St. Louis on

I have never supplied alcohol to minors that I did not give birth to, I did however supply a safe environment to those minors who seem to find alcohol somewhere.

That seems to be the funny thing about minors, they find alcohol but where ever they are finding it they are not drinking it there. They apparently wander around in their cars until the alcohol is gone. So I welcomed them into my home but did not allow them to leave until the next morning.

My oldest daughter went so far as to hire a police officer for her prom after party. He was instructed to allow anyone in regardless of whether they were drinking but no one was allowed to leave without a sobriety check. No one tried to leave the party.

Rebecca, no you cannot be drafted at 18, the draft was repealed quite some time ago. I want to say late 60s. I agree that 18 would be a more appropriate age but it has nothing to do with war or voting.

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answers from Richmond on

My baby brother spent a good part of his college years in Paris and Morocco studying abroad... serving wine with dinner there is the equivalent to serving a glass of milk with dinner here.

I say, it depends on the 'kid'/situation. My parents used to let me have a wine cooler here and there before I was legally 'of age'... (I swear, in hind sight, to put me to bed)... BUT I believe it's a case by case decision.

Are you going to give alcohol to the confused teen who hasn't found themselves yet and gives in to peer pressure? Of course not.

I saw, you're old enough to vote and serve in our armed services and you're *responsible*, go for it.

I have bought booze for my little brothers. Call me the devils advocate, call me a criminal, but honest to God if you just want a glass of something fancy and adult to drink with dinner and you're not driving: go for it.

Controlled learning, I like that. Exposure is the best hands on learning lesson. If you can't function after a glass of wine or a beer and you're legally an adult, you know better than to drink, point blank.

Will I serve my own kids alcohol? HELL no. Have they accidently taken a sip of something they shouldn't have and immediately spit it back out? Hell YES they have, lesson learned.

Alcohol is just like any other life experience: if you're exposed to it properly and know the ramifications, they by all means, make your own decisions. If you're that ignorant teen, go f*ck yourself, go finish your education before you live recklessly.

Again, it's a case by case situation!! Great question!!

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answers from Dallas on

I told my 20 yr old she could have a glass of champagne at our Christmas cocktail party. She chose not to. I really don't think it's all that fun to drink with your parents!!!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

i think it should be determined by the state. here in ca i dont think lowering it to 18 would be a good thing. i have lost friends due to them drinking and driving (underage) i would not want 18 year olds able to buy it and then drink and drive. i think they should up the age on cigerettes to the same as alcohol. yes i may or may not let my daughter have a drink or two in my home but thats it.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with Robin M.
When we were in Europe, the legal age was/is 18 so we allowed our oldest to have beer.
We know he drinks at college and we cannot control him. But he also knows he will have to suffer the consequences if he makes bad choices.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Cat:
The frontal lobe fully develops by the age of 25.
Insurance for males is so high until they reach 25.
It is not the problem of alcohol.
It is the problem of people who don't know how
to drink responsibly.
Do you know much alcoholism is in our country?
Do you know how much it costs American for the affects
of the disease?
The laws don't stop people from drinking whether they are of age
or under age.
Just my thoughts.

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answers from La Crosse on

I agree that if you can be drafted at 18 then you should be able to drink at 18. If you responsible/ smart enough to vote for a president you should be able to drink also. If you are old enough to be able to move out of your parents home and fully support yourself, then you should be responsible enough to drink also.

My brother graduated at 17. My parents signed the papers allowing him to join the Army at 17. My brother turned 18 while in the Gulf War fighting for our country. He even won a medal of honor there. But when he came home at 19 he couldn't even sit at a bar with the people who he protected. I agree its not right.

If we are to be an adult at 18 then we should be considered an adult in every area.

** Ok, thank you Jo about the draft :) If you can go to and fight and protect our country at 18...

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answers from New York on

I don't believe in serving alcohol to those who are below the legal drinking age. My oldest is 16. Allowing teens to drink teaches them that they are allowed to drink. I don't believe it teaches them to "drink in moderation" or anything like that. Allowing teens a glass of wine at Thanksgiving or a beer at the family bbq doesn't indulge their curiosity and keep them from drinking excessively. When teens get together and there is alcohol, they aren't looking to sip a lovely glass of Chardonnay. Teens drink to get hammered, and having that glass of wine at Thanksgiving and Christmas isn't going to make them pass on that game of beer pong or get less toasted at a kegger.
As for the drinking age and dying for your country, I don't think that the drinking age should be lowered. I think that the age for serving active combat duty should be raised

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answers from Anchorage on

I think it should be 18 as well.

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answers from Houston on

I think it is awful and despicable. It makes me so sick now as an adult, knowing that in my teenage years my friend's parents provided us w alcohol/weed/condoms... whatever.

A lot of bad things happened when we were being supervised by 'responsible' parents who thought they were doing the best thing.

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answers from Charlotte on

My best friend was a passenger (total of 5 of them) in a volkswagon driven by a drunk driver. They went out for a midnight ride our senior year in college, and she and another kid ended up dead.

I know that in Europe, most kids start drinking diluted wine at dinner with their parents once they are in their teens. However, they take a lot of public transportation and don't seem to get drunk a lot, from what friends who live there tell me. Here, we tell our kids NO drinking until they are 21, and then they go out and get bombed and drive cars.

Would they not get in a car and drive if we did what the Europeans do? I don't know. But I'd like to think that kids have more brains than to drive drunk if they are not drinking at 18. I just don't know. Would it have saved my friend? I don't know that either...

I realized that I didn't answer your question. Our family does not give alcohol to minors. (Our kids are 16 and 19.) We have taught our boys a lot about drinking. However, we did let our kids taste wine in Rome since they are of legal drinking age there. They took a sip and didn't like it. Several years ago kids were drunk from a graduation party and crashed in my neighborhood. One died. I don't know who served them alcohol, but they are cupable in the death of that young man. I won't put anyone in that position, period.


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answers from Erie on

At 18, you are old enough to be drafted into the armed services if a draft is deemed necessary for our national defense. There is no law saying otherwise, which is why all of our sons, at the age of 18, sign up for Selective Service. So no, there is no draft currently, but Selective Service ensures that there are still men available for it when and if it is needed. So let's stop arguing about that.

There is alcoholism on both sides of our families. We have advised the children not to take up any kind of regular drinking until they are well over 18 years old, as the science says that the earlier they start, the more likely they are to develop a dependency on it.
Yes, we have let them try alcohol. My dh and I drink regularly and drink different things and have let the kids have a sip. One of my kids is allergic, as was I until I was 20, and can't even eat tiramisu. No, I will not serve alcohol to minors who are not mine in my home, I would not take the chance of having my other children taken away for something like that. If their parents were present and allowed it, I would be ok with it, but only over age 18.

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answers from New York on

I agree is odd that you can be mature enough to pick your president but no for drink.
I think the age was set for a study that showed that kids under 21 where more prone to accidents, can't recall very well the article, so don't take me too serious about it.
About giving it to my under age kids, say 18-21, I doubt it but I would not say never because who knows, but I can't now see my 13 and 3 year old and thinking on give them alcohol, then again we (my husband and I) don't drink so maybe that has to do too.
Correction, I drink once a year a Mexican drink that taste like eggnog, funny thing I stared drinking when I left Mexico, ha!

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answers from Dallas on

I drink occasionally at a party or get together but not too often. My son is 15 and on new years eve he drank half a budlite that I approved of. He has never drank before and he said it was gross. Just the answer I was looking for! I don't think it will be a problem :) as for kids his age at my house? Nope. I would not allow it. What you do in your home is your business but I wouldn't let anyones child drink at mine!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We are non-drinkers at all at home, social drinkers on occasion when we go out, me, I mostly am the DD. Ideally, I would like my kids not to drink at all. But I'm not an idiot, I know it will be all around them when they get older. If they are ever over at a friends and I find out the parents were allowing them to drink alcohol, well, I don't know exactly what I would do, but it will not be pretty. With auto accidents being the #1 killer of kids, I don't know why anyone would want to add alcohol to the mix. And I don't understand parents that allow it in their homes, even for their own kids. I guess its how you are raised. I'm also an insurance agent and can tell you tons of stories and a lot of parents who wished their kids didn't drink. I guess its like sex, you have to teach your kids to be responsible, understand the consequences and be able to make the right choices. And pray, pray, pray...

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answers from Dover on

I have mixed feelings on this. I too feel that if you are old enough to serve your country/die for it then you should be able to have a bear if you want one (I hate the taste of beer/alcohol so I don't know why you would want one but still). On the other hand, I know of some 18-21 (and some older) that don't know how to drink responsibly and I certainly don't condone breaking the law.

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answers from Houston on

Most of my drinking days were from 15 to 19, but I'm glad that it is harder for kids to get it. I guess I'm a total hypocrite. Especially when you consider I let my oldest try a pricey wine or a microbrew beer on occasion.

I'm all over the fence on this subject.

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answers from Phoenix on

My husband is a police officer. It's illegal to drink before you are 21 and to supply alcohol to anyone under 21. So, no, it's not okay for anyone under 21 to drink nor is it okay to provide it.
I was allowed a taste if I wanted it when I was under 21 by my parents. I usually chose not to drink it. My parents also made sure they made non-alcoholic versions of their drinks, typically daquiris so we could have some, just without the alcohol.
My husband, however, didn't have a drink until his 21st birthday.
We don't let our son have soda. He is 3 and I don't see allowing him to have it for quite some time. Especially not anything with caffeine. He'll tell you sodas are for mommy and daddy and grown-ups. I don't see us ever giving him alcohol when he is older until he is 21.

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answers from St. Louis on

love this question!

For me, age 18 = signing up for selective service = the right to vote = enlisting in the military = buying lottery tickets/gambling AND should = the right to drink alcohol.

To me, all of these are adult choices & should all be considered equal. Especially if you're joining the military! Think of how much court $$ would be saved if the age limit was 18! We could solve our nat'l debt issues by lowering the drinking more MIP legal cases at Spring Break!

Kids drink. We all know it. Do I buy for my sons? Hmm, I do remember when we were celebrating our 40th Anniv at our Family Lake 19yo son said, "Oh, man, Mom! You & Aunt need to try Hypnotic. I think you'll like it". I just looked at him..."excuse me? & how do you know?" & he just laughed. So I bought it, I hated sis liked it....& the rest of the 19yos finished it off. So, I guess I have to say "yes, I've bought for my son". But do I buy beer or supply his wkends? Nope, never did for him, & never will for my 15yo when/if he hits that stage.

Now for the disclaimer: we raised our sons in the Catholic Church. Communion begins in 2nd grade. Both of our sons are familiar with wine. We live in a small town & the wine is actually locally-made, & distributed thru our diocese. They are familiar with this wine, & both enjoy it at Mass. For some, that statement is shocking.

Additionally, we, as a family, enjoy a Christmas Toast. All in the family are offered a choice between wine & sparkling grape juice. If the teens choose wine, then they are given a tiny cordial glassful (about a tbsp)...& that's it. They get a full wineglass if they pick the sparkling grape juice! Does this make all of us bad parents? Nope, I don't think so....

This past Halloween, we were discussing with our younger son "how/what/etc" for his annual party. At age 15 & being a freshman, we knew that things will be changing soon. We offered an Open House w/ a bonfire. We also told him he could invite his friends, his Scout buddies, & the whole danged Band....if he wanted. Halloween parties are "the" thing to do in our small town, so we knew that even tho' the list was about 100 kids....we'd be lucky to end up with 30.

My older son was listening in.....he caught my attention, did a little hand motion of drinking, & said...."nope, not the Band, you've got seniors in the mix & they'll be drinking". Once he mentioned it- huge red flag for us! In the end, our son was soooo busy with Marching Band competitions that we ran out of time. Thank goodness! There would have been booze at that party....not what we want for our 15yo!

Long answer, sorry! Great question....thanks again!

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answers from Providence on

I had beer and wine with my parents before I was of the legal age. It was at home, and I was safe. Obviously it wasn't like we partied or anything like that, but they would let me have one beer or a glass of wine with dinner,etc. It kept the mystique about drinking to a minimum, and I never desired to drink with friends or go to a party and get wasted.

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answers from Amarillo on

It depends on the family and the generation. I had drinks as a child with my family - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve (a bit stronger one). My aunt even let us mix drinks but we could not leave the house that was her rule.

My children were brought up in Europe and the drinking age there is if you can clear the bar you can have a drink. However, my children did not go to the local bars/clubs. My son did drink but not drive while in Europe. He even attended a birthday party where the mom took all the car keys and put them up. No one left until the next morning.

I think if you are brought up with alcohol in a controlled setting you learn how to handle it and do not have the mystic of getting drunk. Of course there always going to be the ones that do. You teach your child what the effects are and how to handle yourself. So it is no big deal.

My children today very seldom drink and they are 38 and 34.

The other S.

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answers from Washington DC on

My children have had alcohol since they were young, 9 or 10. We give them a sip here and there at Christmas and Easter. We don't make it taboo or anything.

When my now 22 yo graduated he already knew "Beer sucks, man" so didnt' have the desire to go out and drink and never did. He also went right into service, then his first duty station was Japan, so he had to watch his p's and q's. He now drinks wine.

I do not drink except at Christmas. My hubby drinks a beer at night. The 3 at home see him drink responsibly. My 16 yo likes some wines, my 14 does't like any of it and my 11 yo thinks he likes Guiness (blech!!), but won't even touch the wine.

My kids have no desire to drink or sneak any of it. I do not expect them to go out and get smashed in high school or college.
We also have a very close relative who is an alcoholic, so they see what happens to people who get drunk.
Same with smoking, they have had to watch their Grandpa's health deteriorate because of 45 years of smoking. I pull no punches and tell them he may not be there to see them get married, as it is, he is too sick to see his oldest granddaughter graduate this June.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I allowed my daughter to drink at home at 16. Some of her friends had parents who also allowed their kids to drink at home. We allowed each other's kids to drink at our homes, but only after locking up their keys and the host parent notifying the other parents that their kids would be spending the night.
I would not serve a minor unless their parents personally told me they allowed it.

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answers from Houston on

My husband and I don't drink alcohol of any kind so there's no reason for us to be serving it to minors.

I would be beyond pissed to find out someone else gave any of my kids alcohol while they are underage. In fact, I think I'd be pissed to hear about my kids drinking at ANY age, but that's just me.

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