We have met parents who teach basic family values, like honesty and responsibility, but never discuss alcohol directly with their kids. As you decide what to do in your own home, consider research findings from the United States and Europe: Kids who believe their parents approve of them drinking alcohol are more likely to drink outside the home. Kids who are given alcohol at home are more likely to drink alcohol when they are away from their parents. They also get drunk more often at early ages. There is no research showing that drinking alcohol at an early age teaches kids about alcohol or protects them from getting drunk later on. If providing alcohol to kids was in some way beneficial, then doctors, teachers, and health experts would recommend it, but they don’t. Discuss your position on alcohol with your son or daughter. Talk about: How drinking affects the body both physically and psychologically How drinking only one time can have harmful effects Reasons why some kids drink and others do not drink Constructive ways of having fun that do not involve drinking
Why you are concerned about drinking before 21 The consequences for violating your rules about not drinking before 21 and why your family has these rules GET INFORMED! Visit madd.org/powerofparents for more resources and information. Middle school children are young and still learning about behaving responsibly. You can help your child find many other ways to practice responsible behavior besides drinking alcohol. As a parent, don’t feel the pressure to give in and let your child drink before the age of 21. Also keep in mind: there can be legal ramifications to serving alcohol to your own child or other people’s children. In some states, parents may be able serve their own children alcohol, though this is not recommended. Adults, however, are never permitted to serve alcohol to other people’s children. What’s more, it is illegal for young people under 21 to purchase or possess alcohol.
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