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Children As Young As Five Drinking Alcohol? Be A Parent and Not Your Kid's Friend

Jen Slack's picture
children drinking

In researching for an article on teen drinking, I came across a study from the UK, wherein parents were surveyed and asked about whether or not they allowed underage drinking in the home. Shockingly, some allowed children as young as five to be consuming alcohol.


In a survey of 1000 parents, half of the parents with children under 14 allowed their children to consume alcohol, and 10 percent allowed children as young as five to drink.

Even more shocking is that 34 percent of parents allowed their kids alcohol as a form of bribery for good behavior.

What is kind of odd about these stats, is the fact that only one quarter of the parents saw nothing wrong with allowing their kids to drink, half of them were actually allowing it.

There is something wrong with this picture obviously. Why are one quarter of these parents giving their kids alcohol if they think there might be something wrong in doing so?

Sometimes I wonder if parents feel too much guilt, maybe from working too much, or simply being busy, so they try to compensate for the lack of quality time they spend with their children. They try to make up for their real or imagined inadequacies by being lenient, or more like a "friend" to their children.

I have to agree with David Teplin, clinical psychologist from Toronto who said this. “Parents all need to be role models and they need to set examples. Sometimes they want to be the kids’ best friend as opposed to be the parent… It then becomes much more difficult to set limits and boundaries.”

I have witnessed parent-child relationships wherein it did appear that the parent wanted to be the friend, or peer of the child, rather than a parent. And clearly, the boundary lines were crossed.

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My opinion is that our kids already have friends and they don't need their parents to be their friends too. Once our children reach adulthood, the relationship then should evolve into more of a friendship, but until then, kids need parents. They need someone to set boundaries for them, and to also teach them how to set up boundaries for themselves.

Boundaries may sound like a bad or negative word to some, but boundaries are healthy - not just for our kids but for ourselves.

Set the limits, be loving and firm and expect that sometimes children will try to push the boundaries. Even when you see your kids trying to push the boundaries, this may not be a bad thing. Sometimes, in certain children, it can actually show potential for leadership skills.

But back to the subject of alcohol. We might hear the argument that we should allow our kids alcohol so that they know how to handle it as they grow older. However, again, I tend to agree with David Teplin's assessment that parents shouldn't assume that this is the case and that teens hide things, regardless of how permissive their parents are.

It is unlikely that this will be a surprise to anyone, but here's a study that shows what might seem obvious - that drinking leads to risky sexual behavior in teens.

Do you think it's a good idea to bribe or reward your kids with alcohol?

Is there a balance or happy medium?

At what age is it appropriate, if at all, to let our children or teens drink?