Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do You Imbibe...In Front Of Your Children?

Summer is rapidly approaching.  The time for casual beers with neighbors.  Fun summer daiquiris (had to look up that spelling!) and margaritas.

Yet Eldest is getting older.  And wiser.  I am very cognizant of the fact that the boyz see us drink alcohol.  It makes me wary. 

I inwardly cringe anytime there are drunk people around children.  It's just something I have a huDge "thing" about.

But when I stop to think about it - is my way any better?  (I mean, waiting until the boyz go to bed before I really let loose.  Like maybe once or twice a month, that is.)  What if something happened to one of them during the night and I was incapacitated? 

And even though I'm conscious of my drinking in front of them - they have all certainly seen me "not feeling well" the next morning.  That's not stellar parenting either.

Hubby and I have differing points of views and opinions on this topic (which is a nice way of saying that we have fought about it more than once), so I thought I would throw it out there for you all to mull over:

Do you drink alcohol in front of your children?

Have you ever been drunk in front of your children? (And would you admit it?)

How old are your children?


Patois42 said...

We drink in front of our children. My daughter, who is 11, actually has learned to make a margarita. When I was about her age, I started making the bourbon and coke for my dad and the screwdriver for my mom. We were offered wine at holiday meals. We offer wine at such meals to my kids as well. None of the three show any interest in drinking. In fact, they're at the ages (11, 8 and 13) where the impact of Just Say No still resonates strongly with them. In other words, alcohol is BAD. But it's not, in moderation, and I hope the kids grow into adults with healthy attitudes toward alcohol.

MidLifeMama said...

We do drink in front our son, who is 3. To the best of my knowledge, neither of us has been drunk in his presence. It is just a part of our lives, as it was for me growing up. I didn't drink as a teenager or in college. I was an anomoly, I am aware. I didn't really like much of what I sampled and didn't have an interest until in my mid to late 20's. So seeing people drink certainly didn't cause me to party it up, I think it is all in the way the message is delivered and how your kid is wired.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I don't have children - so my opinion is completely uninformed, but I think it's fine to drink in front of kids as long as it's moderate. That way, they see alcohol as not something just to use to binge drink, but that there's a responsible way to behave around it.

FourJedis said...

I am an avid wine enthusiast (lush, one could say), and I do drink a glass a day, maybe 2, but more often than not, it's not till the boys go to sleep. They are only pushing 2 & 4, so they are young yet. There was one day back when I only had 1 child that I was drunk in front of him (not speech-slurring, stumbling over drunk, but headache-the-next-day drunk), and my husband will never let me forget it. If I'm going to have more than a glass or two, it's not till they are enjoying REM. I would not leave them with someone intoxicated to watch over them, so I kind of believe I should not be that way either.

Beth said...

We have a drink or two in front of our kids, but never excessively. I think they've been exposured to in their lives in various situations that may or may not be appropriate, but if I can control it, there is a limit of 1. It's really something to think about. Kids are such sponges as they see what's going on around them.

Unknown said...

I have imbibed in front of the children, though I never shown myself out of control in front of them. Of course I never drink enough to get out of control. I did once drink on an empty stomach and vomited, witnessed by my then 9 year old daughter. Whenever I have a drink now (2 years later) she reminds me not to do it again!

Kylee said...

We drink in front of them, but it's rare for me. I don't drink if my husband is. I feel that we should have one parent sober in case of an emergency. Plus I am not a big drinker.

Magpie said...

We drink in front of our child (who is six). Not to excess, but a glass of wine with dinner most nights.

Further - when we have parties, including the kid's birthday parties - there are always adults drinking wine or beer.

Alcohol in moderation is not a bad thing.

MommyLovesStilettos said...

IN my family, it's common to see people having a beer or margarita at a get together. My mom never really drank at all, and my dad is an alcoholic. I saw what alcohol did to my dad and vowed to NEVER be that way. I also saw my aunts/uncles having a few cocktails and being responsible and I knew early on that it's NOT bad to have a drink or two when you are an adult. It's BAD if you cannot control yourself.

I drink in front of my children occasionally but I cannot say that I've ever been drunk around my kids. I worry too much about something happening to them and about how they will view me later in life. I lost a LOT of respect for my dad because all i witnessed as a kid was him being drunk all the time.

C H R I S T I said...

my husband and I have also had more than one argument about this. he does and i don't (even drink that is). i don't approve of it but have friends that do it and have yet to figure out a way to prevent hubby from doing it. we have compromised and let the bottles go and he uses a cup but it's still something that makes me cringe.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

We drink in front of our daughter. But I don't think I have ever been drunk in front of her and my husband has maybe once. Usually our drinking is a beer or glass of wine with dinner or in the evening while we are hanging out. I agree that getting wasted frequently in front of children is probably not a great idea, but I think a drink or two is probably fine.

Jen said...

I have not been drunk in front of my children but I have been hung over in front of them. Very, very, very hung over.

And yes, we do drink in front of them and if they ask for a taste we allow one. We want to be open and honest about drinking and alcohol b/c if its not viewed as a big thing at home, hopefully it won't be view as a big thing outside the home.

Jodie Gildea Lenti said...

I think there's a balance to be reached with drinking in front of your children. Growing up with an alcoholic father myself I don't engage in the same thought he had which was "if you get me another Schlitz you can have the rest of this one" - gross on so many levels especially because it was really only his backwash and I was about 6. So I don't believe in that extreme but I think that teaching our kids to be responsible for their/our actions (i.e. have a drink or two if you want) is a valuable life lesson. Alcohol isn't the problem it's people irresponsible behavior with it that is. The lesson shouldn't be don't drink it should be take responsibility in life for everything you do and not blame it on outside factors. That's just one gals opinion.

Anonymous said...

Great question & I know exactly what you mean about drinking around a child who is getting older.

Our boys are going on 10 & 15--and my husband & I haven't seriously imbibed since long before they were born. Who can afford the time,the cost and more importantly--the hangover--when you have kids? That said, we do drink in our childrens company, especially during the summer months.

My boys have seen me pine over a glass of Chardonnay or gush over a good Margarita. Last night, I drove to a friend's house to steal 3 Coronas for our afternoon at the pond after I discovered that our local market was closed.

I do worry about this "modeling" just like I did when it was sugar or other junk foods that I didn't want my tots to know about, or at least not know that I consumed them.

Now I tell my teen that it's all good--alcohol, sex, junk food--when done in moderation--and at the right age--which he is NOT.

We're not around drunk people too often, but when we are, he usually brings it up afterward, and it's a good time to talk about the power of alcohol and how it affects choices and even lives.

I know about that first hand as both my grandmothers and my mother were alcoholics.

Thanks again for a great prompt.


Serenityville said...

My parents never drank in front of us because they never drank, and I still turned into a lush for 15 years. Moral of the story, not doing it will not keep them from finding the juice if they need it, which of course, they need because of your bad parenting.

Point 2: Europeans drink often, in public, in front of their kids. The kids drink too. In Germany the drinking age is 16. They are much more responsible about it because it's not so friggin taboo (same with sex, by the way). The moral of this story, the more we try to hide something and make it out to be a mystery, the more they're likely to want it.
Point 3, if you're healthy about your drinking then your kids will learn that. If you overdrink, like most humans do, they will learn that that is not only ok, but cool, because that's how we all look at it.

In conclusion, there is no right way, but I believe honesty is the closest thing you can get to it. Let them know how you feel about drinking, and the differences between adults drinking and kids drinking. Won't stop them from getting trashed but will probably earn a little respect from them.

Rita Templeton said...

I don't drink very often, mainly because I get horrendous hangovers! But once in a while, I'll have a glass of wine - or my husband, a beer - in front of the kids. When they ask for some, as they always do with ANYTHING I'm drinking, I tell them it's a "big-people drink" and they can't have their own cup, but they can taste it if they'd like. I figure this kills two birds with one stone: 1.) it demystifies it a little bit and takes some of the "oooh, forbidden" factor out of alcohol, and 2.) they don't like the taste so it discourages them from wanting to drink any themselves. I'm the child of an alcoholic, though, so I try to be careful with my example.

They're almost-five and two, so we've got a long way to go until we really have to worry about them experimenting.

Jeannie, Jane, Angel, Mommy, etc.. said...

This is a huge sticking topic for my husband and I. I have never been a big drinker anyway, but I am even less so now that we have a child in our house who had liver disease and a liver transplant. My husband and I have both had a drink or two at dinner infront of her, but I have decided to stop doing that now that she is getting older.

It is something that she is not going to ever be able to do for fear of damaging her new liver and possibly not receiving another transplant. I just don't think that it is right to drink and then tell her she can't. It's kind of like people who smoke, but tell their kids that they will get into trouble if they are ever caught smking. I am a big proponent of leading by example. My husband feels that he can have a beer here and there and just tell her she can't. Hence the fighting we have done about it.

Amy said...

This is a great discussion.

For us, absolutely no drunk people in front of the kids. (They are almost 8 and 3 and a half. My oldest is 21 so she doesn't count for this.)

We do drink in front of them. My husband has his evening scotch most nights. I'm a once or twice a month type and never more than one drink. Not because I'm all virtuous, but I'm just not a big drinker.

We never are tipsy around them ever, but they know we drink "Daddy Juice" (his scotch looks like apple juice!) and they can't, and wouldn't like it anyway. I think (HOPE) we are casual enough for it to not be a big fat tempting taboo (we have a bar in the kitchen), and they know it's totally for grown ups.

If we ever saw a drunk person (like at a football game or something), I'd point out that that is what happens when you are either too young and/or irresponsible with Daddy Juice - it's quite dangerous, like taking too much medicine.

That's our approach, which I will also say we've not ever really discussed, it has just fallen out that way.

Greens and Pinks said...

My girls are 2 and 4 - and I do occasionally have a glass of wine with them around and they've certainly seen my husband have a beer. That said, I have maybe 1-2 glasses of wine a month. I've never been drunk or hung over in front of them just because I really rarely am - but (she'll kill me for saying this) I saw my mom hung over when I was probably 15 and we had a really good talk about drinking responsibly - and responsibly can mean having a few (or more) if you have a safe driver, safe place to sleep and obviously are of drinking age.

My husband travels for work and I never have a drink when he's away. I just feel like if anything happened I'd want to be totally on my game.

Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him said...

I'm just not a drinker, but street drugs are often doled out in our house. Ha - KIDDING! My husband drinks his beer in front of the kids; I really don't. But if they stayed up past 10, they'd see I hit an ice cream sundae like nobody's bidness.

Michelle said...

We drink in front of Finn, but I can't say either of us has ever been smashed in the three years that he's been here. We just don't do that and I don't really see a need to get plastered. You feel like shit the next day, you make an idiot of yourself, and really, what is the point? I want him to have a healthy and moderate outlook on drinking so I practice what I preach. Dave will have a beer while grilling, I'll have a glass of wine, but to get stupid drunk? No... and truthfully, I don't have a whole lot of respect for people who do.

Draft Queen said...

My kids have surely seen us drink, though one of us is always "not drinking" if they are home just in case a clear head is needed for a nightmare or whatever. We aren't drunk in front of the kids ever. If they see us drinking it's a drink or 2. Never more.

That said, I've come home completely drunk on more than one occasion, in the middle of the night. I'm not proud of it, but it has happened and a couple of times I've been hungover the next day. (Not the "I'm going to die" hung over, but more like "can't I just go back to bed" hungover.)

Honestly, it's a rare occasion the kids see mom or dad (or soon to be step dad) drinking. And when we do, it's responsibly and we've pointed it out to our ever curious kids. (Ages 9 and 11). We're hoping that being realistic and honest we're setting them up to do the same.


Mary Ellen said...

I'm surprised (and relieved!) when reading these comments that just about everyone's answer is yes. My parents never drank in front of me as a child, and I never understood what the big deal was. I'm glad that there are so many parents that feel the way that I do- it is OK to drink responsibly in front of your kids. Not get drunk, not make do anything irresponsible (like drive), but a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beers at a BBQ is totally fine by me. My kids are little (3, 1, and 1) so they don't really notice, but I don't plan to change my ways when they are older.

LoveFeast Table said...

Looks like it's a hot topic! We tell our kids, everything in moderation. So, yes, we drink in front of them and usually not too much! Our kids are 15, 12, 10, 8, and 3. We even let them put a finger in a drink if they want to try. We are foodies and feel we should bring them up with an appreciation and healthy respect for libations!

Alexandra said...

Never been drunk in front of the kids, but they know their parents LOVE a chilled beer outside in the summer...

Sharlene T. said...

Hello, fellow SITSta! Great topic and hard to speak to. When I was first married, having heard about people who drank themselves stupid, my husband let me get blotto at home and all that happened was that I spent alot of time over the porcelain goddess. Great. No hangover. I decided that was too much money to waste and it didn't taste all that good, either.

I was raised on wine with dinner but we didn't really drink it much, otherwise. Once I had my babies, my body wouldn't tolerate any of the grain alcohols but I could still drink the grape. My children were given the same size glass that I was, as a child. It's a little tiny (less than a shot glass) miniature glass, so they had a taste.

I think children that want to drink alcohol are going to do it and, if they have to wait until you're not home, they'll find your stuff and either return it to the level with water or not. Or, they'll break into someone else's place. The biggest and saddest problem to me is that you don't know who is an alcoholic and, by the time they've had their first drinks (at home or not), it's too late. The body starts to betray them.

I don't know the answer. I do agree that making something taboo just makes it more exciting. I'm just glad that my child-raising days are over and have nothing but kudos for all you moms out there, today! It's got to be frightening...

Michelle said...

This is something I actually struggle with myself. Growing up my dad drank everyday. Sometimes to excess and it caused discord with my non-drinking mother. So growing up I promised myself I would never marry someone who drank everyday. That being said, both of us enjoy a drink on the deck in the summer. We do drink in front of the kids (almost 5 and 2), although they have never seen us drunk.

I struggle with guilt about it though, probably because of my childhood. I think we just have to find that gray's not really black and white.

Great post!

Suburb Sierra said...

Huge topic on our family too because hubby doesn't drink (I know, right!!?) and I do.

But it's not the drinking thing, it's the drunk part. Mainly because a very thoughtful, giving person in our neighborhood is an alcoholic and proceeds to get completely and totally drunk at any and all neighborly events. She'd do anything for you, but when she's down, she's down hard and we tend to want to shield our 5 & 7 yos from that - not from Mommy getting silly at the family wedding from a bottle of wine.

Drink up. And I keep this in our kitchen on a little chalkboard: Make Good Choices.

It's not a new phrase but one I just want my kids to remember...about alcohol or anything else in life.

QM said...

We absolutely drink in front of the children but we try to keep it cool-ie we don't get drunk. I have probably been buzzing a time or two at bedtime but never without a sober responsible adult or dog around..that's ok, right? RIGHT?

Kidding! I worry about the moms who seem to really need it in the evenings. I used to be one of those moms, and it is a desperate feeling usually brought on by an absentee (read:WORKING) husband and exhausting children. I stopped drinking as much when my writing took over my very existence. I need my wits about me to get my novel banged out. I will celebrate with cocktails when its finished!

PS it's been too long!

sanjeet said...

Looks like it's a hot topic! We tell our kids, everything in moderation. So, yes, we drink in front of them and usually not too much! Our kids are 15, 12, 10, 8, and 3. We even let them put a finger in a drink if they want to try. We are foodies and feel we should bring them up with an appreciation and healthy respect for libations!
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Judy said...

I'm so glad you brought this up - this is a HAWT topic in our house.

On one hand, i want my kids to understand that you can be totally cool (like mom, haha) and not drink, but then that means I'm not drinking (which I do on occasion, so that's kind of not working out for me, ha). On the other hand, I don't want them to think that, when you are an ADULT, alcohol is a no-no, because that is a personal CHOICE and as long as you are responsible (no driving, no killing of massive amounts of brain cells, and please try not to puke), it is okay.

But, my 10 year old questions EVERYTHING I drink - is that alcohol? What about that? Is that alcohol? Why are you drinking that?

Ugh. Who signed me up for this parenting stuff?


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