July 3, 2008

Nonrequired Reading: 005: Should You Drink With Your Kids?



"At first it sounds a little nutty, but you might consider drinking with your kids. Incongruously, the way to produce fewer problem drinkers is to create more drinkers overall - that is, to begin to create a culture in which alcohol is not an alluring risk but part of quotidian family life."

- John Cloud, from his piece in Time Magazine, "Should You Drink with Your Kids?"

10 comments:

Keith Drury said...

It is an interesting idea... and reminds me of James Dobson's story of taking his son out to smoke a pack of unfiltered cigarettes... (hoping he would cough and never smoke again) or of the dad who showed porn to his son, laughed at it and called it juvenile and not “adult” at all in hope that the son would never again see be attracted to it...

The idea has been around a while –it is the "vaccination model" of influencing children’s behavior.

What we don't know yet for sure is if there is a real genetic propensity to alcoholism (though Burt Webb is on the reading edge the latest research). If some humans have an genetic propensity to alcoholism (or gambling, or other addictions) then introducing them to these things could be risky. We just don’t know yet. Lots of discovery yet to be done on how genetics interplay with nurture in these things (and how they interplay with “sin” in the Christian sense—Burt and I are doing a joint paper on this next Spring)... But on the alcohol issue itself (and not the general "vaccination model") I've read research I think that shows that families who drink alcohol moderately in the home and never abuse it do tend to have children who do not abuse alcohol... but then again, families who are tee-totalers also tend to have children who are tee-totalers too…so the research isn’t clear enough yet... but it is provoking to think about.

Beck said...

Wow... Mr. Drury certainly has a wealth of knowledge on the subject! Fascinating.

(But now I have nothing to say. :)

::athada:: said...

viva la europa!

Sharlene MacLaren said...

My hubby Cecil and I made a conscious choice not to drink alcohol, even socially, shortly after we married 32 years ago. We decided we didn't want to be responsible in later years for putting the "temptation" out there to our daughters who would one day become teenagers by making alcohol easily accessible. At the same time, we had many discussions over the years as they were growing up. We tried to be honest at all times about the matter, telling them Dad and I had made a choice not to partake of alcohol, but that didn't mean they would necessarily follow our example. It would one day (when they were of legal age) become their choice. We ALWAYS stressed that drinking itself is NOT sinful. Only when done in excess and to the point of drunkenness does it become a sinful act, as do other gluttonous behaviors.

Regarding whether a parent should drink with their underage child, here's my opinion... If you don't want your child to swear in excess, do you sit around and swear with them occasionally--but not make a habit of it? If you don't want them hitting other children, do you allow it in the home--just not in excess? If you don't want them growing up with a nicotine addiction, do you encourage smoking while lounging in the living room?

I think it's the same with alcohol. Why START something with your child and make it appear safe and fool-proof if it COULD lead them down a potentially dangerous pathway? I would rather keep them as safe as possible while I still have them "under my wing", prepare them as best as I can for that mean old world out there, and then let them make adult choices when they reach an appropriate age.

And that's my two-cents. (grins)

Hugs and Blessings to all!
Shar MacLaren

P.S. Oh, fyi, neither of my girls, or their husbands, drink alcohol as far as I know, unless they have the occasional glass of wine, but to tell you the truth, I haven't asked them. It's a total non-issue.

Josh said...

KD - Genetic propensity to alcohol? That is so interesting and I look forward to reading your paper! I wonder if humans have a genetic propensity to sugar or shopping as well?

Beck - Mr. Drury has a lot of knowledge covering many subjects. :)

Shar - Thanks for your thoughtful observations. While we may not see eye to eye theologically regarding this issue, I appreciate your perspective. The only question I have pertains to your comment - "Why START something with your child and make it appear safe and fool-proof if it COULD lead them down a potentially dangerous pathway?"

What about our addiction to shopping? What about our addiction to sugar? What about our addictions that aren't yet socially looked down on by the Church like alcohol is in your denomination? Debt, for example, is arguably a far greater problem in this country than alcohol is. It effects millions of people every year and destroys marriages and families. Did you also abstain from taking your kids to suburban malls, where greed and teenage advertisements abound?

Or take sugar and unhealthy eating habits? Did you abstain from McDonalds and candy that might cause your kids to stumble into obesity or gluttony?

If we used your logic to say that parents should abstain from anything that might cause our kids pain or danger, then parents might think about abstaining from a lot more than alcohol, cigarettes and swearing.

Though our ideas of what we should abstain from (with our kids) might differ, I like the idea of abstinence on certain issues (especially for periods of time - like no tv for a month). :)

I think what this article is suggesting, and what you and Keith have alluded to, is the importance of moderation. And that is a message I can get on board with.

Sharlene MacLaren said...

Josh, Keith, and anyone else entering this dialogue, okay, you'll notice I said...'We ALWAYS stressed that drinking itself is NOT sinful. Only when done in excess and to the point of drunkenness does it become a sinful act, as do other gluttonous behaviors.' Notice the 'as do other gluttonous behaviors'. Yes, like excessive spending, eating, or any other habit which controls our mindset.

hahaha--I'm missing what it is we don't see eye-to-eye on philosophically. I see nothing wrong with alcohol, as long as it's used in moderation, so therefore we are on the same page, right? You said so yourself when you said moderation is a message you can get on board with! (grins) I agree that overspending and obesity are true problems in society--not sure about the statistic that debt is a bigger problem in our society than alcohol. (They probably go hand-in-hand, and I know you won't argue that alcohol is also a major factor in the the problem of divorce--along with infidelity, drugs, pornography, etc., etc.)

Another thing I failed to mention as per the 'drinking-with-your-children' philosophy is, of course, the illegal aspect. I guess it goes without saying I don't condone blatantly breaking the law.

Did we withhold sugar and the occasional McDonalds attacks at the risk of growing obese children? Nope. But we also didn't encourage overeating. Again, moderation.

And I DO think the church (my denomination) considers debt a dangerous road to go down. We offer a variety of counseling opportunities to help people gain financial-freedom. I only say that because you alluded to the church only caring about the problem of alcohol and not such things as debt when you said 'What about our addictions that aren't yet socially looked down on by the Church like alcohol is in your denomination?'

As for your comment, - "If we used your logic to say that parents should abstain from anything that might cause our kids pain or danger, then parents might think about abstaining from a lot more than alcohol, cigarettes and swearing" - hey, I am all about abstaining from a behavior that will keep my child safe, secure, and pain-free and, yes, I think parents might consider changing a few more of their behaviors for their children's sake. (And I say that not only as a parent but as an educator with 31 years of experience.)

Jumping down off my soapbox now so I can get back to my book-writing.

Thanks for getting me thinking on this subject.

Hugs to all...
Shar

Burton Webb said...

Genetic predispositions are interesting things - while they may make it easier to become addicted to alcohol, elicit drugs, or risky behavior they do not necessarily make us become addicted. We have the ability to choose, and in the choice we can modify how certain genes are expressed. (See - http://biolexeme.blogspot.com/2008/06/good-behavior-alters-gene-expression.html)

Vaccination is an interesting metaphor. For me, it conjures other images than for most (I am an immunologist by training). For vaccination to work, there must be an integrated system of checks and balances which is strengthened by repeated, small exposures to non-lethal doses of whatever. Intelligence, experience, wisdom, and conscience may all be parts of this system when it comes to lifestyle choices and sin. It must be an adaptive system that might be prone to failure. As Keith points out - is it worth the risk?

::athada:: said...

Josh -

I've heard that our craving for sugar and fat comes from our thousands/millions of years developing as hunter-gatherers. Any sugar or fat that could be gobbled up would be, and would be stored as fat, which (was) a very good thing.

So sugar and fat taste great. But now we've overdone it.

Burton Webb said...

Adam - we have overdone it because we are no longer hunter/gathers. We are producer/storers - the sedintary lifestyle has enabled us to become artists, scholars, and technicians. Food is abundant.

Evolution takes time - what will our tastes and desires be like in a ten thousand years? Who knows?

Germs, Guns, and Steele is an incredible book on this subject. A great summer read.

::athada:: said...

The G,G,S video series is nice too (and quicker).

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