Should Parents Allow Their Teen to Drink Alcohol?
This is perhaps one of the toughest questions that a parent could ask. From the outside looking in you may wonder why a parent would want to know whether or not it is okay to serve alcohol to a minor. But when you end up in a situation where your teen is interested in trying alcohol, outright saying no is probably going to have the opposite impact.
When a parent is completely closed minded about something like social drinking, it often drives the teenager to want to do it even more. A teenager that is trying to rally against his or her parent’s wishes is going to dive right in to potentially harmful activities such as drinking in public, at parties, with friends or even trying to drink alone.
If on the other hand you approach the situation of underage drinking with a slightly open mind, you may see a completely different result. This article is meant to look at both sides of the issue and try to give some practical advice on the subject. Ultimately, as the parent in the situation it is up to you to decide what is best for your family.
Really, the best thing that you can do is to talk to your child about why teenagers are not meant to drink alcohol. Teens usually do not truly understand that alcohol is harmful, toxic to the body, makes people do stupid things without exercising proper judgment, and is capable of causing serious harm when abused or used improperly.
Speaking to Your Child About Alcohol
From a completely legal standpoint, what you need to understand is that all underage drinking in the United States is illegal. As a parent, it is actually illegal for you to supply alcohol to a minor, even if that minor is your child. It is notable to know that in most states, it is legally acceptable for a minor to drink alcohol in the home, and most drinking age requirements actually pertain to public settings rather than private ones.
There are 15 states in the United States that have outright banned drinking for minors no matter where they are, with another 17 states saying that it is legal for minors to drink in private settings and therefore legal for parents to provide alcohol to minors in these settings. Another 18 states have specific family member exceptions and location exceptions that are attached to their laws pertaining to underage drinking.
What this means above all else is that you have to do some legal research before you think about allowing your child to have alcohol in your home. Before you should even have to make this decision from a moral standpoint, you should find out what the law says. Do a little bit of research in your state and county to make sure that providing alcohol to your minor or underage child is acceptable. If it turns out that this is a legally acceptable route, then you can go on to consider the moral part of the question.
Should you find out that it is legally acceptable for you to provide alcohol to a minor child, the next thing that you need to do is to decide whether or not you want to serve your child alcohol? There are implications on both sides of the coin and you must consider the pros and cons of this type of decision before you make it. Here are some of the considerations that you are going to want to think about when you are coming up with a solution to this dilemma.
- Is your child drinking already? If your child is already interested in alcohol, then allowing them to drink at home under your supervision might be a much better option rather than knowing that they are going out and drinking in public or with other people in a situation where you cannot monitor them.
- Allowing them to drink at home gives you several controls that you should always have as a parent. First and foremost, you know exactly where your kid is when he or she is drinking, so there is no risk of danger, drunk driving or similar events. Secondly, by being the person who is purchasing the alcohol, you can give yourself greater control over what your child is drinking and when they are drinking, and you can better monitor how much they are drinking just by monitoring the amount of alcohol they consume.
- Although it can be frustrating to have to decide whether or not letting your teenager drink is okay, keep in mind that it is normal for teens to want to experiment. If you work out an agreement with your teen where you provide him or her with alcohol but they drink under your roof, in your line of sight, and are always honest with you about what’s going on, then it really can be a productive thing. You can save your teen from a lot of harm by allowing them to experiment with alcohol at home rather than out on the street somewhere. And if you are doing this within the letter of the law, then it is definitely worth considering.
- You must address these considerations on a case by case basis. If your child’s grades are slipping because he or she is drinking, if moods are changing, chores are being neglected or other things are going on, then supporting your child’s drinking habit is not the right way to go. You really must consider all sides of the situation before arriving at a decision, and you must be able to tell when the arrangement is not working out and needs to be revoked as well.
Teaching Your Teen about Alcohol
One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is to teach your child about alcohol. Teach them everything there is to know about alcohol, including how much is safe to drink, how much is not safe to drink and what happens when you drink with reckless abandon.
Make sure that your teen is completely and fully educated on what alcohol does to the body. They should understand that while alcohol “makes you feel good,” it also causes irreparable harm to the body when used improperly, and it can cause judgment to be lost and dangerous things to happen. An educated child is more likely to stay on the healthy path, after all.
Getting Your Child Help for Their Drinking Problem
If you think that your teen might be drinking alcohol while under the legal age, and you believe that their use of alcohol is escalating into a serious problem, there are solutions out there. There are a number of therapies, support groups, rehab facilities and similar options that are geared specifically toward under aged substance abusers, which means that your teen would be surrounded by other children of the same age who are going through the same situation.
Your teenager is probably currently lacking the sense to admit that he or she has a drinking problem. They may not even realize that you are aware of their drinking problem. Keeping this in mind, it is going to be your duty as a parent to help your teenager get the support and help that they need in a rehab facility (800-303-2482), a counseling session, group therapy or another type of support group.