“I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message — younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks.”
~ Dr. Kristina Jackson, PhD, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University
For generations, it has been a commonplace habit among parents who drink – letting their children take a small sip from their beer, wine, or cocktail. However, recent research suggests that the practice may be a bad idea.
According to research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, children who try alcohol by the sixth grade – even just a “sip” from a parent’s drink are:
- Five times as likely to consume a whole alcoholic drink by the time they reach high school
- Four times as likely to get drunk or engage in binge-drinking
- 26% of “sippers” consume a full alcoholic drink by the ninth grade.
- For comparison purposes, only about 6% of those children who had never sipped alcohol consumed a whole alcoholic drink.
- 9% of sippers self-reported binging on alcohol – 5+ drinks at one sitting – or getting drunk.
- Among non-sippers, the rate was just 2%.
These findings echo earlier research that offering your child even a small amount of alcohol can lead to negative outcomes.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Too-early alcohol exposure can have a profound impact on children’s still-developing brains. So the second-best thing you can do to protect your children is to refrain from offering them sips of YOUR drinks.
But children learn their drinking behaviors from their parents. This means that the best thing you can do to protect your children is to practice responsible drinking yourself.
If you are worried about the message your drinking is sending to your children, contact Lasting Recovery, a premier outpatient alcohol rehab program in San Diego.