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American teens and alcohol in other countries

American teens and alcohol in other countries

Old Oct 20, 15, 10:09 pm
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American teens and alcohol in other countries

If you have teens and you travel to countries where it is legal for them to drink alcohol, but they are still underage in the US do you allow them to drink when in those countries? Responsibly of course, I'm not talking about going out and getting wasted, but wine or beer with dinner, or when touring a winery for example.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 8:15 am
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My kids are still in single digits but on the occasions when I have wine or beer with dinner (which isn't often), I have no hesitation about letting them taste it if they want. I wouldn't order a teenager a beer in a US restaurant or sneak him into a bar, but in other countries where they're of age I'd have no problem with letting them order a drink (maybe even two). And when my kids are teens and I have someone over to my home and open a bottle of wine, I'll have no problem giving them a small glass of their own.

I believe strongly that a lot of our problems with alcohol in America (particularly with binge drinking and young people) stem from the Puritanical attitude toward alcohol as a forbidden fruit, coupled with the Anglo-American tradition of treating drinking-to-get-drunk as an activity in and of itself, rather than alcohol being a complement to food or conversation or whatever.

I want my kids to learn by both my example and their own experience that alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed responsibly as part of a dining experience or casual social experience, and that binge drinking--not alcohol itself--is the bad thing.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 8:44 am
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I agree we have weird alcohol traditions and laws. I just wondered what other people so and if it sets an expectation of what will happen here. I dunno. I don't actually drink myself for a variety of religious/cultural reasons, but my husband does and I expect my kids will. The 16 year old tasted a beer in Belgium last year (hated it, probably the wrong thing to start with LOL) and we are travelling to Chile in a few weeks and will be doing some winery trips.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 11:03 am
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I let my son sample limoncello with us while we were in Italy.

When we went to Jamaica when i was 16, the first thing I ordered was a rum and coke. My mom grabbed a sip before I could stop her and her response was, "If you're going to drink while we are here, at least drink something exotic."

If she hadn't taken a drink I probably could have drank all week without her knowing I was.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 11:11 am
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I don't think it sets problematic expectations as long as you talk about it and model good behavior yourselves.

Wine tasting IMO is a particularly good opportunity for that as it's truly all about the taste and not about getting drunk. Most wineries even supply spittoons so lightweights like me (and presumably your teens) can try lots of different wines without getting drunk.

My dad is a big wine guy and almost always had wine (usually pretty darn good wine) with dinner. Growing up my sisters and I would all take sips to see what we liked and what we didn't from very young ages and it was always about the taste and never about the alcohol. I don't think it's a coincidence that none of us ever had any issues with alcohol, while many of our friends in high school and college (many of whom were absolutely forbidden to touch alcohol at home) were obsessed with booze.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by themicah View Post
My kids are still in single digits but on the occasions when I have wine or beer with dinner (which isn't often), I have no hesitation about letting them taste it if they want. I wouldn't order a teenager a beer in a US restaurant or sneak him into a bar, but in other countries where they're of age I'd have no problem with letting them order a drink (maybe even two). And when my kids are teens and I have someone over to my home and open a bottle of wine, I'll have no problem giving them a small glass of their own.

I believe strongly that a lot of our problems with alcohol in America (particularly with binge drinking and young people) stem from the Puritanical attitude toward alcohol as a forbidden fruit, coupled with the Anglo-American tradition of treating drinking-to-get-drunk as an activity in and of itself, rather than alcohol being a complement to food or conversation or whatever.

I want my kids to learn by both my example and their own experience that alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed responsibly as part of a dining experience or casual social experience, and that binge drinking--not alcohol itself--is the bad thing.
Yep, bolding mine. My daughter is still just 2 1/2 but when she is older, she will be allowed to sip and taste at home and on travels. I started tasting wine around age 9 (didn't really like it much then) and was much more responsible around booze as a teenager than most of my school.
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Old Oct 22, 15, 9:11 pm
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My parents philosophy was to destigmatize alcohol consumption at home so my brother and I wouldn't go to parties and get drunk and end up doing something stupid. Alcohol wasn't the forbidden fruit to us growing up. They also never let us get drunk either. A glass of wine with a nice meal was an option but not the standard.

When I was a Freshman in college they visited me and we went to a local pub for a burger. I was a regular there so the waitress brought me my pint without ordering and asked my parents what they would like. When the waitress walked away my mother looked at me and said, "So you're well known here I see". The day they found out I was underage I was punished by having to tend bar for the Christmas party. Only took them two years to ID me.

Last edited by Yoshi212; Oct 22, 15 at 9:23 pm
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Old Oct 23, 15, 5:40 pm
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The other great advantage of allowing American young adults (for that is what 18 and 19 year olds are) drink where it is legal to do so is to teach them some legal philosophy. What makes it wrong to drink in America and not wrong pretty well anywhere else in the world? Which law is right? What should the law be etc. etc. They are not straightforward questions and it's good to get their minds questioning important matters.

After all, visitors to the USA have the opposite problem - trying to explain to their kids why they cannot drink in the land of the "free".
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Old Oct 24, 15, 11:31 am
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When I was growing up, alcohol was readily accessible. My parents were the partying type and parties were a regular occurrence. I think I had my first beer by age 3-4, first hard liquor drink around 4-5. In both cases, my young tongue didn't appreciate the sharpness of it and to this day I'm not a beer drinker and don't care for most of the hard stuff. I've never been drunk either. I do enjoy a glass of wine or mixed drink with dinner occasionally. I also accidentally learned in college that a glass of wine actually improved studying after my study group had been to a wine tasting for an industrial microbiology course. We were all shocked by how much more enjoyable the study session had been AND how much better retention of the info was the next day.

The USA's idea of alcohol being outright forbidden until age 21 is a recipe for disaster. You don't ban power tools, weapons, cars until a certain age then expect the person to magically be able to handle them when they turn a certain age, but that's exactly what we do with alcohol. Children need to be exposed and trained on how to handle situations. Drinking responsibly isn't something you'll learn from a book.

To give you an idea how how absurd and paranoid our laws are, in Florida it's illegal for a teen to even touch a bottle of alcohol...even if their parents give it to them... BUT they can if their employer gives it to them (still can't drink it though).

Literally, "Hey son, can you go get me a beer from the fridge" is punishable for up to 12 months in jail for the son who never even opened the bottle, matching penalty for the parent who "allowed" this offense to occur. Prohibition is alive & well...
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Old Oct 24, 15, 1:22 pm
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But in most (some?) US states/counties/cities teens can still drink at home and/or under parental supervision, right? Wouldn't that be the same?
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Old Oct 24, 15, 1:36 pm
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As long as you're working to show the difference between responsible behavior towards alcohol, it is fine. The culture in Europe where the drinking age is lower is usually just to have a drink with your meal, whereas in the US it is to drink until you're hammered at a party. Since binge drinking is such a problem in high school and college, they'd be better off just lowering the age and working on getting people to drink responsibly. There is a scientific basis for the 21 year old age since our brains are still developing until around 21-25, but the reality is its too easy to drink especially in college under 21. When I studied abroad, I was already 21, but all the 19-20 year old people drank excessively because it was restricted at home so I really see the 21 year old age limit backfiring in reality. After all of that rant, I think its worth saying I don't drink at all so maybe I don't get it, but those are my anecdotal observations.
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Old Oct 24, 15, 3:38 pm
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I see a lot of binge drinking going on in Europe too -- no less than what I used to observe across the US. And most often when it comes to binge drinking in Europe it's mostly Europeans doing the binge drinking; much like how it's mostly Americans doing the binge-drinking in the US when it comes to binge drinking in the US.



Originally Posted by ChangingNappies View Post
But in most (some?) US states/counties/cities teens can still drink at home and/or under parental supervision, right? Wouldn't that be the same?
At least back around the time FT was started, there were still numerous US states where minor children could drink alcohol under parental supervision even when not at home. [I'm referring to more than just religious ceremony-based drinking.]

I know even a few years back that young kids drinking alcohol in taverns in WI was certainly allowed. The following may be of interest:

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/...-stands-alone/

Parentally-supervised introduction of alcohol intake by minors may or may not be a reliable way to try to foster healthy approaches to consumption of potentially intoxicating substances, but I'm not sure it's a big driver in bad drinking habits either.

Last edited by GUWonder; Oct 24, 15 at 3:44 pm
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Old Oct 26, 15, 10:11 am
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There seems to be a bit of a myth that other countries with lower drinking ages do not have teens who abuse alcohol. It's not a panacea.
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Old Oct 27, 15, 5:36 am
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If you were to refuse to let your kids have alcohol in a foreign country where it is legal for them to do so then they'd just find a way to sneak out and get it anyway, and then they'd be out of your supervision while getting drunk for the first time. Better to let them do it in a controlled, observed manner.
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Old Oct 27, 15, 6:01 am
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To what extent is an 18/19 year old under your supervision or do they require your permission for such things anyway? I understand you may be paying for the trip and even for the drinks, but isn't deciding what to drink and complying with applicable laws a matter for them, whether at home or abroad?
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