December 18, 2017 7:15 pm

Mom says letting children drink alcohol at home teaches them responsibility

During an appearance on Good Morning Britain, UK mother Shona Sibary said she considers it the "responsible" thing to start offering alcohol to her children at the ages of 13 or 14, in small amounts.

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One U.K. mom is facing some backlash after allowing her children as young as 14 to drink small doses of alcohol at home.

Shona Sibary was recently on Good Morning Britain in a segment about underage children drinking alcohol.

The mum-of-four said she knew her kids were going to drink regardless, and at least this way, she could see how they react to it.

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“By giving them small amounts on special occasions, they’re learning how their bodies react to alcohol with food,” she told the morning show. “Therefore they’re in a far better position when they go out with their friends to know what they’re capable of drinking.”

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Sibary also added her mother died from alcoholism, which also helped her children put drinking into perspective.

In the U.K., the legal drinking age is 18, while in Canada the legal age is 19 in most provinces and territories except Alberta, Manitoba and Québec.

But like Sibary says (and experts agree), teenagers will start consuming alcohol before the legal age.

Should you let your children try alcohol?

Bonnie Harris of Connective Parenting based in New Hampshire, says she did the same thing with her children when they wanted to try alcohol for the first time.

“When you forbid something for your kids you’re just asking for resistance,” she tells Global News. “Anything that is zero tolerance to a kid is the outside world saying you can and cannot do this and nobody likes to be told what to do.”

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And drinking itself differs from culture to culture. Some religions prohibit consuming alcohol at all times, while for others, it is quite normal to have a glass of wine with a family meal.

Harris says the key to having a stronger relationship with your child around alcohol and substance use is keeping the lines of communication open.

“Work in a way where there is compromise and negotiation and your child is part of the process,” she says.

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She adds that when her daughter wanted to know what wine tasted like, she let her try some at the dinner table when she was 14.

“She hated it but she liked the idea of liking wine,” she says, adding she would often add a bit of wine to her daughter’s glass of fruit juice on occasion. For her son, it was the curiosity of trying beer — which she also let him do.

“I do think they have been proven to be responsible drinkers, they are both adults now,” she continues. “We’ve always been perfectly open and talked about it.”

Be positive role models

Harris adds this doesn’t mean you need to get drunk with your child or drink irresponsibly as “buddies.” Since children often watch and mimic what their parents do, it is also important to be a positive role model when it comes to alcohol.

“It is very important that you are a responsible drinker because that is what you want your children to become.”

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

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