Is it okay for kids to have a sip of your alcoholic drink?

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Sponsored post disclaimerWhen I was a teenager growing up in Chile, it was normal for my grandparents to offer me a sip of wine during a family function. The strong smell of alcohol actually put me off and I often asked why my grandfather in particular was so adamant that I try just a little. His reasoning was that by the time I was 18 (the legal drinking age there), alcohol wouldn’t affect me too much and that way I wouldn’t get easily drunk with just one glass of wine. Most days I still refused a sip and honestly didn’t come to appreciate wine until my mid-twenties.

Now I am a mother and my son is already a preteen who asks more and more questions. His sister, who is 9, always is watching closely whatever he does and listening to every answer I give him. Neither my husband or I are big drinkers, but we do occasionally have a glass of wine or when we’re on vacation, I’ll have a fruity drink. My kids will even call us out when we have one drink and even joke about it.

They have already asked why adults like to drink alcoholic beverages. My daughter, just like my earlier self, strongly dislikes the smell and can immediately recognize whether I am having a virgin Piña Colada or one that has rum. However my son asked us the other day whether he could try the wine we were having at dinner. Without even discussing it, my husband and I replied immediately “no.”

Regardless of what we were taught in Latin America, we believe in teaching our kids the rules and laws of where we live. It would also contradict what we’ve been telling our kids about how alcohol can harm a child’s development. Plus, we don’t really feel he needs to have a sip of wine or try alcohol. When he’s older I will probably allow him to have a sip of our drinks, but it won’t be while he’s in his early teens. We do believe in teaching him to be responsible, and as parents we get it that he will be exposed to underage drinking even if we would like to think otherwise. We are building trust day by day and there will come a time in which we might allow him to try our wine, but for now we will definitely wait until he’s older.

However, I was surprised that we’re in the minority. A recent study by JAMA Pediatrics found that 66% of kids have already had a sip of alcohol by age 12 and 37% of kids by the age of 8!  I’m not going to judge other parents but I honestly don’t see why you would feel the need to have a child try alcohol before they are even in their teen years. If I am completely honest, until I read a few studies, I did believe that as kids approach their high school graduation, it might be best to have them try a bit of alcohol at home so it didn’t feel forbidden and they would lose interest in it. Now I’m not so sure.

Before you make up your mind about whether to allow your child to have a sip of your Cabernet, Moscato or Margarita, just know that kids who try alcohol for the first time before they’re 15 years old are 7 times more likely to experience alcohol-related problems as adults, compared to those who began drinking after they turned 21. This is one statistic that I will be quoting to my children when they ask me to try an alcoholic beverage. Who knew that just a sip could have lifetime consequences?

Kids and sipping alcohol

If you need more tips on how to approach conversations with your kids about alcohol, remember that you can find more information about TalkEarly on’s site, follow the conversation on Twitter and check out their boards on Pinterest.

Disclosure: as part of the #TalkEarly initiative, I have received compensation for my involvement, but this post reflects my personal opinions.

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