20 Jun Myths Debunked: Underage Drinking of Alcohol at Home Leads to Real Consequences for Parents and Teens
Parents who have met the challenge of teenage drinking by deciding to serve alcohol to their kids at home may be surprised to learn that not only are they priming their teens for bad drinking habits, but they may also be facing criminal charges.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the Treatment Research Institute have joined forces to provide parents with a new Web site that can help them get “scared straight” in terms of how they are deciding to influence their kids’ attitudes toward alcohol and underage drinking. The bottom line: Don’t do it.
Parents may have decided to give their teens alcohol at home because they figure their kids are going do it anyway. That thinking is erroneous. Kids whose parents speak plainly and frequently about their disapproval of underage drinking actually tend to drink less than kids whose parents take the “we can’t stop you” attitude. Parents have far and away the greatest impact on a young person’s attitude toward drinking.
Some parents believe that if they take the taboo out of drinking that it will make alcohol less appealing to teens. These parents point to Europe where alcohol is more free-flowing and kids are often exposed to drinking in the home before age 21. These parents believe that drinking with mom and dad at home will teach their children to be more responsible with alcohol. The facts refute this premise. The WHO (World Health Organization) refers to a worldwide long-range study which shows that the sooner kids start drinking (even at home), the greater the risk they face for alcohol addiction and alcohol-connected injuries later on.
The study shows that European youth drink more than American youth and become drunk for the first time sooner than American kids – often by age 13. Serving alcohol in the home to underage teens does not pre-empt alcohol problems for European youth and American parents make a mistake when they adopt Europe as a model in this area.
Serving alcohol in the home to minors also presents an enormous legal liability for mom and dad. There are various legal consequences – by state – for serving underage teens alcohol. The consequences are serious.
Parents who give their teens and their teens’ friends alcohol in an effort to stave off future drinking problems will find the opposite it is true. Serving kids alcohol at home promotes a casual and permissive attitude toward drinking. These kids drink more during their teen years and are more likely to have drinking problems later on.
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