Alcohol for Children? Absurd!!

In a recent article by Victoria Brett for the Associated Press, Ms. Brett discusses the pros and cons of giving wine to children.

The possible pros were listed as

1. Gourmet family says wine is life training.
2. A Southern European custom adopted by American foodie culture.
3. Justification that pop and processed food is worse.
4. Texas and Minnesota allow parents to give their children alcohol legally.
5. Giving children wine is done in good taste only with fancier meals.
6. The practice of giving children alcohol is educational according to some parents.
7. The child may be able to isolate flavors and become knowledgeable about wine to make her mother proud.
8. One mother assures that she limits the amount and adds water to the alcohol, stating it is better than her child chewing on lead paint
9. The practice is common in other parts of the world.

I hardly know where to begin to encourage parents to ignore this shocking justification for what I consider potential child abuse. Would you put a cigarette in their sweet little lips? Would you inject them with a bit of heroin or a tiny line of cocaine. Those practices are pleasurable and harmful as well. Or, are wino parents simply trying to justify their own self-destructive brain-destroying behavior? Good for the child? Antioxidants come in beautiful fruits and vegetables eliminating the need for fancy bottles with poisonous ingredients and expensive labels. Giving a child alcohol, no matter how you dress it up to seem snooty, connoisseur-ish or progressively hip, in my opinion, is wrong.

In my thirty years of practice, alcohol has had a strong presence at a multitude of destroyed families from failed marriages and infidelity to incest and child beatings. Alcohol combined with street drugs have killed beautiful teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them. Adult behaviors must be tempered with wisdom, full knowledge of the consequences and the ability to take necessary precautions. That is why smoking, drinking, sex, bars, driving, and military service have age limits. They can be dangerous, even deadly and must remain optional. The child cannot be expected to make an educated choice. A parent supplying food and drink to a child is rarely optional for the child. Good parents know that children can and must wait until they are older.

People in other countries have many backward practices that are scorned here in the States. A photograph of a five year old boy's arm being crushed because he stole food in a marketplace comes to mind, as does wife beating, and putting to death female babies. Perhaps the U.S. could lead European and other countries away from the practice of sharing alcohol with their children at their family celebrations rather than to adopt the senseless practice here.

Pediatric experts, psychologists and many educated parents agree that giving alcohol, even in small amounts can alter brain development, is toxic and increases the likelihood of addiction the younger you start. If a parent breaks the law and pours their child an alcoholic drink, the child may learn to adore wine but she will also learn to break rules whenever she wishes. Not good parenting anyway you spin it.

©2009, Molly Barrow

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Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the new book, Matchlines: A revolutionary New Way of looking at relationships and making the right choices in love. She is an authority on relationship and psychological topics, a member of the American Psychological Association and a licensed mental health counselor. Dr. Molly has appeared as an expert on NBC, PBS, KTLA, and in O Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsday,,, Women's Health and Women's World. Please visit: or Take the new relationship compatibility test, Match Lines Systems for Successful Relationships for Singles, Couples and Business at Molly has a radio program, Your Relationship Answers at

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