Monday, April 21, 2008

Wine and Children

Eric Asimov, wine writer for the NY Times, recently posted some interesting reflections on serving wine to one's teenaged children at home.

Asimov spoke with Dr. Paul Steinberg, a psychiatrist and former director of counseling at Georgetown University, about the best ways to prevent kids from binge drinking in high school and college. According to Steinberg, "The best evidence shows that teaching kids to drink responsibly is better than shutting them off entirely from it. You want to introduce your kids to it, and get across the point that that this is to be enjoyed but not abused."

Studies performed by Dr. George E. Vaillant, a Harvard psychiatry professor, showed that men who grew up in families where alcohol was forbidden at the table but was consumed outside the home apart from food were seven times more likely to become alcoholics than those who came from families where wine was served with meals but drunkenness was not tolerated. Vaillant told Asimov, "If you are taught to drink in a ceremonial way with food, then the purpose of alcohol is taste and celebration, not inebriation. If you are forbidden to use it until college then you drink to get drunk."

Asimov says that he is currently unsure about whether to serve wine to his teenaged sons at home. But he concludes, "my cautious opinion now is that my teenage sons have more to gain than to lose by having a taste of wine now and then with dinner." I would not have expected a well-known wine critic to be so hesitant to serve wine to his teenagers at home.

I have always assumed that I would give sips of wine to my daughters when they become teenagers. But I suppose one should definitely proceed with caution here.

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