An Early Start

Yesterday I heard a piece on the radio about parents giving children alcohol at home. Research has shown that 1 in 6 parents allow children  to drink alcohol at home – not on a daily basis but perhaps on special occasion or at a party. In the study almost 50% of 14 year old said they had tried more than a few sips of alcohol. At age 11, the figure was 14%.

I am not even the slightest bit surprised at these figure. Nor am I surprised that this applies more among “middle class” parents.

I remember as a child, probably from about 9 or 10 I always received a small bottle of Babycham in my Christmas stocking. For those not familiar with this drink, it is a sparkling pear cider. It was very popular in the 1970s but is still available today. Its viewed as a bit naff but as I child I felt very grown up and sophisticated drinking it with my Christmas lunch. In my mind it was almost like champagne, which I may also have tried by that age.

I was shocked today when I found out it was 6% – almost half the strength of my adult tipple of choice – sauvignon blanc. 1 small bottle was 1.5 units of alcohol. The recommended limit is 14 units a week. When I was drinking that was probably my daily intake – and that was on a day when I was being “good”.

I don’t blame my parents at all for giving me alcohol. It was the 70’s after all. There was no recommended alcohol limits – no drink driving limits either. It was perfectly acceptable to drive home from the pub. Just as the parents in yesterdays’ study, my parents no doubt thought they were introducing me to sensible drinking by not making it forbidden or a big thing.

This continued into my teenage years and young adulthoood but because I am not a “normie” I was never able to drink normally- whatever that is. I was always the one who drank too much at parties and social events. It made me feel more confident and relaxed. At first it was fun and it was acceptable because all my peers binge drank, it’s just that for them it was a phase.

I never moved on.

I have not had to address this issue with my daughters. If I was still drinking I think it is likely that I would have offered them a glass of wine or beer with the Christmas meal. I don’t know whether they would have accepted. My eldest daughter who is a fussy eater and drinker probably wouldn’t. My younger would probably have been more keen.

Both my girls know I don’t drink and why. They also know that I am not going to try and force them into teetotalism – even though my gut feeling is that is will be better for them never to get started. We will have to see how it works out…


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