Letting Kids Drink Wine

In my Italian family, wine was always part of the Sunday dinner. For adults. For kids. My grandmother used to sneak it into our soda. We didn’t like it, but she claimed it was good for the blood. Turns out that she was right.

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Do you allow your kids to have a few sips of wine?

Phytochemicals (naturaly occurring plant compounds) in wine have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Yet, the practice of serving wine to children remains controversial. Certainly, there are enough parents who believe giving children alcohol demystifies drinking later on in adolescence. In fact, a study from the RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 40 percent of parents said banning children from even tasting alcohol would only make it more appealing.

But studies debunk that logic. The authors cite previous research where fifth-grade children whose parents allowed them to have alcohol were twice as likely to report recent alcohol use in seventh grade. And then, there are the physical considerations. A child’s liver is still not fully developed, nor is executive functioning, the part of the brain that controls risk assessment.

Of course, most parents aren’t serving their kids copious amounts of wine. It’s a sip of beer from dad – or a swig of champagne on a special occasion. In fact, most researchers say that open communication with children about the dangers of alcohol consumption and related risks will probably go further in preventing children from binge drinking than the “forbidden fruit” theory.

What do you think? Have you let your children take a sip?