Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: To Drink In Front of the Kids or Not?

05/19/2011 at 08:00 AM ET
Robert Evans

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy year ahead of her.

The actress, 38, can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Abduction, as spokesmom for Juno Baby, and can be found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm admits to enjoying a glass of wine every now and then, and is surprised to learn that daughter Easton August, 3, has noticed.

Do you drink in front of your kids? Do you think it helps them to learn to partake responsibly, or encourages consumption? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Do any of you moms know who Sally Draper is? Well, if you are as obsessed with Mad Men as I am, you know her. She’s the beautiful young daughter of Don Draper and Betty Francis. I mention her because it dawned on me as I was watching an episode of the show recently that she’s probably too young to be mixing a cocktail for her dad. Right?! I’m just saying … what is she, 11?

But it got me thinking about us moms and dads here in this current/non-50s generation. I mean, where are we all at these days on drinking in front of the kids?

In my childhood, it was common that parents and grandparents would have alcoholic drinks at night or on the weekends right out in front of everybody. It just wasn’t an issue. As we turn back the hands of time even further, it really was not a big deal to let the children see you tip it back — as clearly indicated on my favorite show. Like I said, it got me thinking…

It is a much more sober world these days, isn’t it? No smoking. No drinking. It’s the world of DUIs and accountability for substance abuse. How will our kids take us seriously as they get older when we are warning them about the dangers of such things, but are actually partaking ourselves? And yet we know that they more than likely will drink, regardless of what they see at the dinner table or at a family BBQ. So should we be open about it or keep it out of the eyesight of such curious and innocent little people?

I know this seems like an odd subject to be concerned with since I only have a toddler in the house. But I am just curious since even they know the difference between wine and water. I actually know that for a fact because my daughter quite innocently and articulately pointed it out to my father the other day! Plain as day, she said, “My mom drinks wine.”

And that, of course, is true. I do enjoy a glass while I’m making dinner or after the babe is asleep or if we have friends over. Whatever. I don’t drink every day and I drink in moderation. Meaning, I feel that it is a social and controlled partaking.

It wouldn’t have even been a question in my childhood. I think most of us grew up around parents and friend’s parents indulging from time to time, but never to the point of drunken partying. There is always the exception, of course. And I’d like to make the distinction here that some of us suffered due to parents being irresponsible.

But that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m talking about the big shift in what’s accepted in society these days vs. the days of Sally Draper’s childhood. In my personal childhood, drinking was social and handled responsibly, so I don’t have any tragic happenings that have given me reservations on the subject personally. But do you, PEOPLE.com readers, drink in front of the kids? Do you have that single beer or glass of wine while they are still running around or at dinner?

Where do we stand today?

I know for a fact that plenty of my mom friends seriously enjoy that “after the day” drink to smooth out the wrinkles of the hectic day — just like the bygone era where the likes of Don Draper were the rule and not the exception. I know drinking is one of those things people don’t like to talk about, but I’m not quite sure why.

I don’t think that it’s for everyone and certainly I know a handful of moms who simply do not drink and would never consider drinking in front of their kids. I think that’s great too. Different strokes for different folks. Not to mention that if an emergency takes place, they can drive without getting a DUI, which is a huge plus when you’re a parent. Ron and I are always very specific about who the designated driver will be.

So as I was saying, I was thinking about Sally Draper mixing that cocktail for her dad and found myself pondering, “How could he have her do that? Her innocence is going to be gone. Poof!” But see, that’s the thing I love about that show.

It really pushes the envelope and makes us face and question those very things that we like to or are used to keeping secret and hidden. The stuff that we are dying to talk about if only someone would bring up the subject! The subjects that society has somewhat made us feel self-conscious about being open about. Drinking, sex, body issues, eating, politics, religion. You know, the good stuff!

So let’s talk about it, PEOPLE.com! Let’s have a refreshingly honest discussion about drinking at home … just one of the many topics worth our time, don’t you think?

Anyway, Mad Men totally gets me going as you can see! Which also leads me to my dear friend Lyss Stern, who also totally gets me going! She has written a great book called, If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself.

First off, it is a totally delightful read because it says what we already know is true! It gives us permission to need a little time to ourselves, and she makes it an open subject. Let’s face it, people usually act as if they are perfect parents who need no time to themselves, or have desires outside of their home or also GASP! that they might want a drink to relax at the end of the day. It’s so refreshing when someone tells their truth! And she is perfectly fine with a mom actually having a martini to top it all off!

Still, it was a little startling to hear my daughter say the word “wine” in association with me. And I thought, “Hmm, now what do I do?” You see, I am committed to the idea of Easton growing up in a relaxed and honest household. No hang-ups please! I want to be open with her. I’m sure that’s the only way I’ll gain her respect and trust anyway as the years go by. And since I would never drink and drive or drink in excess, I feel as if my behavior with alcohol in front of her is responsible.

Still, the incident stayed with me. I mean, how can we keep our children from experimenting with alcohol if we are drinking at home? They learn by watching, right? It made me pause and for the first time ponder if maybe I shouldn’t drink in front of her as a rule — just to keep it clear that I don’t promote it.

And so I thought we should run it up the flag pole here ladies, and see where the world is at these days on the subject. You know, as a society, since the days of Mad Men are behind us now. Or are they?

Clearly since she is 3, I have plenty of time to make a decision about it. But I thought that we could get a good discussion going here moms, as we always do. To drink in front of the kids, or not to? You tell me, PEOPLE.com!

— Elisabeth Röhm

Robert Evans has photographed parties for Christina Aguilera and Jim Carrey, and is also known for photographing some of the biggest celebrity weddings in the last 10 years, including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and most recently, Shania Twain.

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Showing 66 comments

Cheryl on

Personally, I do have a negative association with alcohol because my biological parents drank and my paternal grandparents, who ended up raising me, never had alcohol in the house. I didn’t even know my grandmother liked alcohol- very rarely- until I was in college.

As a nanny, I have seen parents drink in more of a social manner and be very open with their children that it is something you may choose to do at a certain age, like driving- you are able to make decisions for yourself when you have the right information and ability.

The worst thing you could do as a parent is to hide drinking- even in moderation. Children do not have a negative connotation unless we give it to them. If you feel bad or worried when drinking comes up around children, it is great to explore your feelings as to why that is.

Continue to be an open and honest parent and your relationship will be rewarding and always open for the discussions.

Kat on

My family has always drank socially in front of the children. Never in excess, and always with the understanding that it was an occasional indulgence. They never made an issue of drinking, and therefore it never was a forbidden thing I craved. While I like many had my wild college days, I really feel their attitude to alcohol encourage me to be a responsible adult when I was of age. I plan to have the same attitude as I raise my daughter.

M on

Ok, I don’t drink and never have, so this isn’t an issue for me. However, there are many things in life that are okay for grown-ups and not okay for kids. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a kid seeing his mom or dad have a beer or glass of wine with dinner or at a barbecue. In fact, it will probably teach him or her about moderation and responsible consumption and he will remember that when he is an adult ready to partake in such things.

I deal with the same thing with coffee drinks, though. I generally treat myself to an indulgent coffee beverage once a week or so, usually Friday or Saturday morning. The other night in the bath my oldest scooped a big scoop of bubbles in a cup and said, “Here’s your mocha frappuccino ma’am!” I thought, hmmmm. What kind of impression is my drinking a huge, sugary, caffeine loaded beverage giving my kids?

It’s a small pleasure in my crazy week though, just as a glass of wine is a small pleasure in many a mom’s day. I don’t think either needs to be sacrificed unless they become a problem.

loralei on

As a mom of 2 teens and a preteen I have no problem with occasional social drinking in front of my children. To me it is one of the (few)privileges of being an adult. With our three being 14, 13 and 11 they each are old enough for different privileges. My husband and I are the adults and we have different “privileges” as well. As long as drinking is done responsibly I don’t believe it affects our children at all.

JM on

Oh come on, not drinking alcohol in front of your kids is really ridiculous! are there seriously parents who worry about this kind of thing? wow!

obviously i’m not talking about getting drunk, or drinking in any way irresponsibly. but how exactly do you think you are protecting by pretending that alcohol doesn’t exist, or if it does, you don’t drink it. how are they ever going to learn responsibility if they don’t see their parents acting responsibly? you can’t wrap your kids up in cotton wool you know. the sooner they learn the reality of life the better. by not hiding it from them, making it seem like a taboo, you make it a topic that can be talked about. and they see that it is not something that should be forbidden but something that should be considered maturely and responsibly.

there seems to be a certain style of parenting that wraps life up in secrecy, parents who are never naked in front of their children, never talk about sex, never drink in front of them. i think it’s a very backwards approach to life and in my opinion makes it more difficult for your children to have an accurate grasp of reality and to feel like they can talk about anything with you.

i would just rather my kids knew the real me, and that i know i’m not hiding anything from them.

Dawn on

I agree with these ladies. Once a week a friend and I have our “wine night” and most of the time the kids are playing and we have a couple of glasses of wine. We also live down the street from each other, so there isn’t any driving involved.

I don’t think we are doing anything wrong since we are not inebriated. I think that children need to understand that they are not on the same playing field as adults. They cannot just do or act or speak as an adult does. Part of being a good example to your child is illustrating that as they grow they will earn more priviledges and with those priviledges comes responsibility.

Cate on

I personally think Americans are way too uptight about drinking, and when you hold on so tight and say No No No, well, that is when kids rebel and get into trouble with drinking.

I grew up in a household where my Dad enjoyed a few beers after work, and my mom liked a glass of wine now and then. Neither drink hard liquor. It was always available for adults at family gatherings, and my parents were very open with us about if we drank in high school, although they did not tolerate that, we could ALWAYS call them and get a ride home. Always. My parents were known to our friends as being the “cool” parents, but all they really were was logical, had an open line of communication, and knew that most teens are going to experiment with alcohol whether they want them to or not. So why not try to be as safe as possible about it?

Alcohol to Europeans, for instance, is a part of meal time and family time, and it’s not taboo. My husband and I enjoy our alcholic drinks with meals, and during fun events such as baseball games and picnics. I have never been drunk in front of my child, and neither has my husband. I want my daughter to grow up to be safe, healthy, and not fear alcohol and its effects, but to know that everything is ok in moderation, and obviously never, ever, ever, drink and drive, or ride with someone who drinks and drives.

That’s my take on it!

Lauren on

I come from a southern Baptist family where no one drank, ever. My husband comes from an Irish Catholic family where everyone drinks at any occasion, so we are on different ends of the spectrum.

I never drink in front of our kids (ages 6 & 7), but I don’t really drink much anyway. My husband does not drink at the family dinner table. He does have drinks at restaurants and get-togethers, so the kids do see it sometimes. They know what “adult drinks” are but also know it isn’t, and doesn’t need to be, a part of our everyday lives.

nelly on

I grew up in a family and culture where EVERYONE drank , including grandparents it was usually to celebrate something or everyone just hanging out together there was never any negative thing associated with seeing my folks drink.. I now as an adult am a social drinker and only drink when Im out with friends.

I never had the urge to drink while I was in college also because alcohol was never a negative thing or forbidden amongst my family you SIP AND ENJOY was my family’s motto………

J on

Oh no call AA, Elisabeth’s kid knows she drinks wine! Good Lord…

fuzibuni on

Maybe the question isn’t so much of do you drink in front of your kids, but how invested are you in that drink? Kids notice when their parents “need” or “desire” something and they think it must have some kind of special power or attraction, which can be fascinating.

My parents had an occasional beer or glass of wine growing up, but I barely remember it because it was such a non-issue. It was never a focus, or an important treat, or something they talked about wanting.

I remember my dad would crack open a beer after doing a lot of sweaty yard work on the weekend, or my mom would have a glass of wine over dinner with friends… but there was no energetic charge to it.

When I was a teenager, alcohol was never interesting to me. I didn’t have a sip until I was in college, and didn’t care for it when I tried it. Now that I’m in my 30s, I appreciate good wine and beer, and when I visit my parents we share a bottle together and enjoy each other’s company.

I totally understand those who really crave that drink at the end of each day to take the edge off. However, it can become a type of self medication that you “need” in order to relax and unwind… There are worse things in the world though!

val on

I thinking drinking is fine albeit you refrain from becoming drunk in front of your kids. I have a 2 year old and he knows that mommy and daddy drink coffee in the mornings, but he also understands that that is a grown up drink. Same with ice tea and sodas.

I dont see an issue having a casual drink in front of your child. Just dont relive your wild party years doing keg stands and funnels..lol. That probably would be a bad example:-)

K on

I’ve seen alcohol use ranging from mild to excessive. My parents did drink, but never to excess. Some of my other relatives drank until they passed out. I learned what I would and would not do from watching my family. Children will mimic what they see adults do. None of my siblings drink to excess, but the children of the relatives that drink to excess also drink to excess.

KikiOttawa on

I drink in front of my children. Mind you my idea of drinking is a glass or two of wine and not enough alcohol to be even a little tipsy, let alone falling down drunk. I believe it is harmful if parents become drunk, stumbling and slurring around children even on an irregular basis as it teaches alcohol is meant for getting drunk. Enjoying a drink or two around children is positive as it teaches there is nothing ‘evil’ about alcohol and it is meant to be enjoyed not drunk in massive quantities.

Of course there is nothing wrong with choosing not to drink in front of your children. This is a personal choice and every parent will do what they think is best.

Kim on

I do have a glass of wine every now and then infront of my children, my X (their father) is an alcoholic, so I want them to know there is a right and responsible way to have a drink vs. being falling down tanked out of your mind all the time. Now if I choose to tie one on with some friends my kids NEVER see that!

B.J. on

Well. I am not a heavy drinker in my adult years, but I have friends (3 siblings) whose Dad drank beer in front of them every night, and 2 out of 3 are alcoholics now. To them, it’s so normal that there’s nothing wrong with drinking at noon, or having 3 beers on a Tuesday night just because.

My extended family also has serious problems with alcohol. Every Christmas, easter, baby shower was marked with massive beer intake and drunkenness. Now, I can no longer stand being around them. I have a drink if I’m out or for special occasions, but I don’t want to end up like my drunk friends or family. My parents seldom drank in front of me, and certainly NEVER for no good reason but bedtime.

louise on

I would never drink to excess in front of my children, but I do occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner. I want them to see that you can responsibly enjoy alcohol, and that it has its place. We live in Europe though and I don’t think that it is a big deal, at least in the country we live in.

Soco on

My parents had a glass of wine with dinner every night, and then my dad would have a glass of scotch before bed. I never cared and they never hid it from us. It was only after my mom died and my dad began only drinking scotch and lots of it, that we noticed. he eventually got help and has been sober for four years now.

I say moderation is always best, but you should never prohibit yourself from having a glass or two.

Sarah S. on

I don’t drink that much (only a few glasses of wine per year, for real) because there is so much alcoholism on both sides of my family that I have nothing but negative feelings towards it. My parents used to booze it up every afternoon and esp. on the weekends til one or both passed out. Sometimes, they drank and drove.

Recently, we were invited to my husband’s cousin’s family for dinner where they served wine before dinner. I felt so guilty about sipping in front of the kids that I stopped mid-sip and decided to become the designated driver for the night.

So NO, I do not drink in front of my kids.

Angela on

I have three young kids and my husband and I have no problem having a glass of wine or a cocktail in front of them. Our oldest will be four in August and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know any words for alcoholic beverages, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Cate, I agree with you. The U.S. is a country of a lot of fast fixes. Fast food, fast money, fast weight loss. I’ve traveled the world and I love watching people in eat small portions of really good food and savor it, instead of here where people inhale a huge plate of greasy junk.

I do disagree with Elisabeth on one thing. I don’t think people are more sober when it comes to drinking; I think they’re more secretive about it.

Sonya on

Wow, parents really hide the fact that they have a glass of vine or a beer from their kids?

Where I live (not US) alcohol is part of every celebration and vine is served with diner, so I really don’t understand this thinking. It’s a normal part of life to me, so why would you hide it from your kids?

*just to point out I’m talking about having a drink or two not being falling down drunk in front of your kids

shalay on

Elisabeth is a lovely writer and I do appreciate many of her blog posts.

However, I feel like she is so middle of the road on every issue. From family nudity to drinking in front of children, I feel like she is afraid to put out an opinion because of the backlash that might occur. Perhaps she really always sees both sides of an issue and doesn’t feel strongly about one way or another, but I’d really love to read a blog where she truly expressed her opinion and took a stance on an issue.

There’s no point in trying to please everyone, which is why I love reading blogs. They’re supposed to be honest and forward.

acorr on

everyone knows their limits, so just be responsible. whether “it’s” in your family or not. My kids respect me and my decisions and I set the example I want to be set, it’s like swearing, they know it’s all about respect and only adults do it.

Cecilia on

Drinking in moderation in front of kids IMO is fine. Excessive or out of control – no.

I also think it’s important to distinguish in a child’s mind the difference between what is acceptable for adults vs. what is acceptable for a child.

If a parent follows the same rules they expect of their child/ren, it’s probably setting a good example, but to me, it also presents the idea that they are equals. I think there also has to be a healthy dose of “I am the parent, I am in charge, and the rules are not the same for reasonable adults.”

Peggy on

As a child, I never EVER saw my father drink, my mother would occasionally have a mixed drink at a wedding.

We on the other hand, drink in front of our children all the time! We do it at home and at the home of our friends whom all have children. The kids know that they are adult drinks and they cant drink what we do.

I see nothing wrong with teaching my children that sure its ok to have drinks socially but you have to know your limits! You have to know that its not ok to drink and drive.

Kat on

My grandfather never tried to shield us from his nightly glass of wine or can of beer and it set a wonderful example… of self-control, of moderation. Alcohol was never some “forbidden fruit”, it was something that we knew was for adults and that lulled the senses to an extent, so had to be limited responsibly.

We set the same example for our kids (though we don’t have a drink every single night or even once a month sometimes… we just don’t drink nearly as often, but we’re also younger and don’t need to try to boost our health with a glass of red wine)… we’re very open and upfront about what is in the bottles/cans that are brought in the house, who they are appropriate for, and make sure they realize why we only drink a limited amount.

We’ve already talked about when it’s appropriate to drink more heavily and about never getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when you’ve had alcohol in your system.

Of course, if you come from a religion/culture where alcohol is forbidden, then that’s different and of course you shouldn’t go against it, but this is what has worked for us.

Linda on

My parents drank a glass or two several days a week when growing up. I never found it weird or inappropriate. I think because of that exposure I never had the crazy, alcohol is so bad I have to try it. I will admit in high school I had a few glasses of wine/margaritas at home but it never made me want to go out and party and get drunk with all the other high school kids.

My husbands parents never drank when he was younger and he did go through a phase where he thought he was “cool” for drinking and did it in rebellion.

We both plan on drinking socially and at dinner with our kids. We told my MIL this and she freaked out at the thought of us drinking in front of our kids, go figure.

Moral of the story, if you drink casually, don’t hide it from your kids.

K on

OMG, seriously, would you hide eating chocolate from your kids? Would you not kiss your partner in front of your kids? Would you stop yourself from laughing at something funny, because it was in front of your kids? Holy he*#, Elisabeth, get over yourself and stop worrying about every little thing. Just live already.

Lo on

As a child, it was fairly common for my parents to have wine with dinner and somewhere around the age of 10, I was allowed a small glass of wine at dinner too, albeit a very watered down glass of wine. We lived in Europe and it was the norm. I remember even getting small glasses of wine at restaurants into my teens. Once in highschool, and I lived in the states, I may of had a total of 3 beers my entire four years. I just didn’t care about drinking even when all of my peers were partying, getting alcohol poisoning, and driving drunk.

I think the way that I saw my parents casually drink and that I could have alcohol when I wanted to, played a big role in me growing up a responsible drinker. And not taking it to the limit as most of my friends did.

Crystal on

My parents do not drink and I have never seen them take a sip of alcohol. That being said, I do drink and when I have my children if I want to have a margarita or a martini in front of them I will.

I agree with Shalay. Elisabeth does seem very middle of the road. Maybe she is afraid of the backlash or offending anybody. However, that’s the point of a blog…to unleash your opinion.

I do enjoy these blogs, especially the debates that come of them. I do wish she will be less passive and a little more decisive about her opinions. They’re your opinions honey……..EMBRACE THEM!!!!!!!! 🙂

P on

I’m an 19 year old Mexican girl (want to specify that right away, ha) and drinks in the family are always for a “celebration”: birthdays, anniversaries, special moments, etc. or to share at a family/friends gathering. My parents have never made alcohol an important issue, but it is clear for my younger siblings that drinks are for special occasions, though, they had never given me or my teen-aged siblings the “talk” of alcohol. (I drink socially and they’ve seen me drunk, but they know the responsibility I carry on my shoulders for it). I have a 6-year old sister, and she knows that she “can’t drink that because she’s little”.

I believe that as a parent, you should rule with the example, and as long as your kids learn that it is ok to have a drink with friends or at a special occasion,it shouldn’t be a hot topic.

Shannon on

Why WOULDN’T you? Unless a parent is getting stone cold drunk in front of the children, I don’t see the problem. 🙂

meme on

I don’t think this is a big deal either. We drink in front of out kids. My daughter even does beer runs to the cooler for her dad and friends. They are by no means hammered or even inappropriate. Kids need to learn that there are things adults are able to do that they are. And when done responsibly, there is no harm. Every christmas we have a huge party with all our friends and family. Everyone is drinking. After the kids have gone to bed, there may be a few people that drink too much (usually the childless adults) but the kids don’t even see them. They do spend the night, but my kids just think they are having a sleep over. I always, as do my girl friends, stay sober, since we do have kids to be responsible for.

I can remember my family getting together when I was a child and all the adults drinking. We kids (cousins) had the greatest time playing together. It is some of my best memories. And yes, some of the adults were “feeling no pain” but we all laughed, and that was it. None of us have any drinking problems now.

If a parent is an alcoholic, or is not a nice person when drinking, than I totally agree they should not be drinking around the kids. I guess it depends on the situation.

Hillary on

My 2 siblings and I grew up in a house with a well-stocked and unlocked bar and wine and/or beer was often present at the table on holidays. We always knew that my grandfather liked a beer with his dinner and he’d always offer a little bit to us and I generally declined. I was often offered a little bit of wine too, just a little bit, and I was more likely to accept that. But nobody at the table ever got drunk and truthfully it was such a normal thing that none of us kids ever thought much about it. We just had no real interest.

As adults, my siblings and I are not big drinkers at all. I do like wine on holidays and the occasional margarita with a steak dinner. My teenage daughters know this and have seen it. They’ve also been offered wine at holiday celebrations and they generally decline. I’m pretty sure that my grandfather and husband have offered then a bit of beer. They have zero interest in it or in the fully stocked bar in my house.

The only time my eldest (nearly 16) showed any interest in the bar was when she recently noted that it never seems to get used and wondered what was in there. I sat down and gave her a tour, letting her open and sniff whatever she liked. I did point out that it was unlocked and that she and her friends could potentially get in big trouble with it and that she was on her honor. She made it clear that neither she, nor her friends, are really into it.

I believe that the best parenting in general is leading by example. Alcohol in our house is not a big deal and never used to excess and as a result I believe that it’s not nearly as interesting to my girls and that’s just the way I like it.

For the record, I did have an alcoholic uncle and I’ve discussed that with my girls too.

Steph on

My husband and I do not drink at all so it is not an issue in our home. However, I am bothered by parents or adults who do drink when they are the caregivers for children. Even if you are in your own home doing the drinking and do not plan to drive, sometimes emergencies arise and a sober adult is needed. It is irresponsible for all the adults in the home to drink when there are children present. We have become a society that only cares about our own satisfaction and don’t always think about the consequences. How many people who have been charged with DWI only had “two beers officer”?

maritan on

I live in North America and my husband and I have European roots. Drinking wine with every meal is part of daily life. My 5 year old goes with her papi to get the vino from our cellar each day. Our kids never see us extremely drunk, so what’s the big deal? She understands that it’s for adults and our kids love to say a big “cheers” at family meals.

I realize there those with family/friends having histories of alcohol abuse and that makes things a bit different. We see this now with a good friend and truthfully, we just don’t bring up drinking and we don’t over indulge in their presence.

Jennifer on

I don’t drink. Would I drink infront of my child, NO WAY.

JM on

steph, seriously? WOW!

if you and your husband don’t drink at all that’s fine, your choice, nothing wrong with that. but by treating alcohol like the big bad wolf you are sheltering your children something terrible! like it or not your children WILL discover alcohol and they will have choices to make over whether or not to drink at all and if they do decide to drink then they’ll face choices over how to drink responsibly.

pretending like having a couple of drinks as an adult means you’re just a step away from a DWI is a very skewed attitude to have.

there is nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation and it IS important that your kids know that. generally treating something like it is forbidden or evil just makes kids more curious. really it does, and if they want to rebel as teenagers they’ll know exactly how to, get stone cold drunk, because mummy and daddy really hate alcohol.

i do understand from these posts that this seems to be a much bigger deal in america than it is in most of the european countries i have experience of. these countries i am referring to in europe are vastly different to each other in many many ways, but in none of them is alcohol treated in such a clandestine way. it is interesting to me that in america in many cases it is, and yet many parents have no problem shovelling mcdonalds into their kids mouths.

my point is that there are surely more pressing concerns than whether or not parents have a glass of wine or a beer in front of their kids…. it’s not as if they are giving their kids alcohol. the junkfood on the other hand, to me, is much more worrying where kids are concerned.

Lauren on

This is a very interesting topic, and not one that gets spoken about often.

My personal opinion is that parents should deliberately drink in moderation in front of their kids as often as possible. It is a substance that can have enormous negative effects when used incorrectly, and I think the problem lies not with the alcohol itself, but the fact that so many people feel the need to purposefully abuse it, engage in destructive behavior, and then blame that behavior on the alcohol instead of themselves for drinking too much of it.

I went through this dilemma in college and, to an extent, still go through it now. While I drink on a regular basis and have definitely had more than my sober limit, I have also never blacked out, vomited, or done anything that I regretted the next day while drinking. Having grown up around alcohol being used regularly in moderation, I never saw it as a forbidden fruit, and when I got to college, I expected to find plenty of people like me who wanted to go out and have fun, but also knew when to reign it in.

How wrong I was! At my school, people were either stone cold sober or fall down drunk; middle ground for someone like me was VERY hard to find. There were many times when I would drink and feel like I needed to be pretend to be more drunk like the other girls in my group in order to show off, or just that I needed to drink more in order to enjoy the situation more. But as I saw what alcohol did to my friends-my roommate freshman year who would drink to the point of passing out over the toilet and not knowing where she was over homesickness and boys, my friend who lost her virginity to a guy she didn’t know because she’d had too much-I became convinced that as hard and annoying as it was, I was doing the right thing.

The harsh reality is that alcohol abuse is everywhere. It is real, and it will ruin lives if you don’t know how to handle it correctly. I saw so many sheltered kids who had never had a drop to drink get to college only to start getting drunk and dealing drugs in order to rebel. By making moderate alcohol consumption a part of normal life, there is nothing to rebel against. And as parents, I strongly believe that by setting a good example for how it should be used, this abuse can be avoided.

Monie on

This post perplexes me. Why would/should drinking in moderation in front of the kids be an issue at all?

DC on

I’ve been divorced 7 years and am essentially a single mom to my 15 year old son and 10 year old daughter. We spend a TON of time together because we do community theatre as a family. I don’t drink in front of my kids, but there are a few reasons.

First of all, I’m pretty much it…if they need to be driven, it’s me. Even if I limit myself to one drink while out with a theatre group, I know my body is different…my body and my brain. So I don’t partake at all when I know I’ll be driving them anywhere. I have never been someone who drinks alot. It just was not done in my family growing up either. I have some liquor in my freezer to make a good pina colada sometime, but that really happens maybe once a year.

My kids do notice that I don’t drink in front of them, but I am open with them about my choice. We go to friend’s houses where they DO drink in front of their kids in the evenings, and I’m fine with that,too. In moderation, of course!

Amber on

I’ve never been a big drinker. And I’ve spent most of the last 3 years either pregnant or breastfeeding so I can probably count on one hand the number of drinks I’ve had in that time.

Our oldest son is 2 and while I don’t drink my husband does enjoy a glass of beer often when he gets home from work. We have never thought twice about him drinking in front of our son. He never gets drunk, so its not an issue for us.

As for our son, he has no idea what “beer” is, he knows Daddy drinks it and that he’s not allowed to have any, which makes it no different than the Coke that Mommy drinks.

Cindy on

I don’t really like the taste of alcohol so it’s a non-issue in our house. But we have friends and extended family members who enjoy cocktails, both responsibly and irresponsibly, so we’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss the subject. If I liked alchohol, I think I would drink in front of her.

Daisy on

Is alcohol really that taboo in the US?? I’m Australian and this post is completely bizarre in my opinion. I’ve only ever heard of people being so uptight about alcohol if there’s history of serious substance abuse in the family. I can’t even imagine being expected to hide drinking.

HM on

Personally I believe its ok drink in front of your kids my parents always did we would go out for pizza and they would have a beer, wine coolers were always in the fridge, we were taught that as long as you don’t drink and get drunk that you were ok. So as long as it done in moderation and you teach your kids that, its ok to drink it front of them.

Smoking however is a different story its never ok to smoke in front of kids because of second hand smoke/ While drinking is harmless (in Moderation) smoking even once in front of children is not ok!

Brooke on

I grew up in a household where no one drank – ever! There was/is never any alcohol in our home. I’m 18 years old (still underage in the USA) and I have never drank alcohol, nor do I feel the need to. I believe it was because I was never raised around parents, grandparents, or aunts/uncles that drank so I don’t feel the desire to. I’m thankful for that. It seems to me that alcohol is overrated and messes with too many lives. I think I’ll stay away from it. 😉

Missy :) on

What a great debate!

My sisters and I have actually discussed this topic. Growing up, there was always beer in the fridge. My dad was a blue collar worker and my stay-at-home mother had a beer ready for him when he walked through the door. Additionally, my mom would escape to the neighbor’s for what seemed like hours at a time to indulge in a couple cocktails.

As teens, for the most part, my siblings and I had been responsible about drinking (at least by today’s standards!) and as we grew into adults barely touch alchohol. My older sister (age 33 with 2 kids) NEVER drinks, my twin sister (age 28 with no kids) is a drug and alcohol counselor, and I (age 28 with one child) have an occasional glass of wine socially.

On the flip side, my parents, now divorced and remarried, have both become alcoholics (functioning, if that’s possible), and there’s not a function that goes by where alcohol isn’t served.

Are my siblings and I responsible about alcohol now because it wasn’t taboo growing up? Or are we responsible because we’ve seen the effects it has on our parents? Who knows. I just think that whether or not you decide to drink in front of the kids or not, as long as you’re open, honest, and responsible, it shouldn’t be a problem!

Keep blogging Elisabeth! I love your topics! Easton looks so much like you – gorgeous!!

Crystal on

Steph- You are probably one of the most ignorant people I have ever come across on this board (and trust me there are A LOT). Drinking in your own home when you have children in the house is irresponsible???? What type of logic is that??? Yes, emergencies do arise but you can’t always plan for the unexpected which is why they are called EMERGENCIES!!!

I see nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. If you want to get passed out drunk in your own home when you don’t plan on getting in your car and driving I see nothing wrong with that either. What people do in their house is there business. It amazes me how some people find the negative in every little thing. Steph please grow up. If you and your husband don’t drink that is your prerogative but please don’t judge others on what they do behind closed doors.

L on

I’m sorry, but as a mother of four daughters ranging in age 5-19. When I drink, I don’t just have one. I am a firm believer of refills!

Now, I don’t drink everyday, or every week for that matter. But when I do, it’s usually at least two.

Come on! To read some people saying “I ONLY HAVE ONE DRINK” in front of their kids? Really? I’m not buying it.

I am honest with my girls. They know mommy drinks on occasion, and that it is an adult drink. I also allow my 19-year old to drink at home. Now don’t get all flustered. I don’t always have alcohol in the home. But if I buy a bottle of wine, or a pack of wine coolers, I allow my oldest daughter one glass or one wine cooler. At least this way, I know where she is and what she’s doing.

So like it or not, moms sometimes need to let loose and have a few. It’s in my home, and I’m not killing anyone.

Samantha on

I group up in a house where alcohol was not allowed at all. I’m sure they snuck one here and there, but my parents made sure I didn’t know about it. Honestly, I think it was bad that they kept it from me because I was extremely curious and they weren’t honest and open with me. As a result, i went and experimented myself… more so than the average highschooler. I think if I’d known/seen that you could drink responsibly, it would have saved me some heartache.

Mary on

I was adopted into a family where the father was an alcoholic. There was time to work and a time to drink-after work. My father would say to me that he knows I’m not going to do as he does because I “have too much sense.” That has always stuck with me. I saw my father get falling down drunk mostly after 5pm & at the bar.

I can’t imagine being a parent & being paranoid to have a glass of wine in my own home!! HELL BOTH of my parents drank…they had parties at home & people got BLITZ!!!! One of those parties led to my dad tearing down the wall into the garage to add on a room-at my mom’s suggestion/approval. It was funny!!! My mother drank martini’s and she’d ALWAYS give me her olives!! She hated them I loved ’em. I was 6 years old and YES I got to sip her martini..to see what it tasted like.

The biological child of my parents is a drunk!!!! A couple of Thanksgivings ago she bought a bottle of wine to have “with dinner.” For the LIFE of me I will NEVER understand how a parent who KNOWS their child can’t have one drink they have to have the whole bottle will allow that to happen. Needless to say, there was an emergency-the dog ate onion dip so my drunk brother told mom I’d drive…to the hospital where he worked to buy hydrogen peroxide to give the 100lb dog so it would throw up. He drove—drunk…….

I drink in moderation.

Mary on

I’m just thinking also that the TODDLER doesn’t even know what WINE is. She’s clearly heard the word but seriously doubt that a toddler knows what alcohol is. The toddler most CERTAINLY knows that the word “wine” sets mom into a state that’s why she uses it!!!

Anne on

My parents drank in front of me when I was young and I was allowed to take a sip once in a while. As an adolescent, I was invited to join them with a smaller wine glass. Later, I was served alcohol in special family dinners and I must admit I declined most of the time since I didn’t really enjoy its taste. All my cousins were treated the same.

Our family believes that children and young people learn drinking responsibly from their parents. So it was important for them that we had our first drinks at a family dinner rather than sneaking out to try alcoholic drinks as teenagers. It worked well for us. I never drink and drive. I just drink in moderate amounts. That’s what I plan to do with my kids.

Unfortunately, pretending as if alcoholic drinks do not exist does not prevent the kids to try when they are older. In a way, it makes them even more curious. That’s why it is important to talk to them when they are younger. Seeing it integrated in the daily life helps them get a better grasp, I think. If you are non-drinkers, who hope your kids will abstain from alcohol, I guess it is another story.

Amanda on

i am a sober, grateful alcoholic. I think any parent that can moderate there drinking should do so, if that’s what they want. It’s up to each of us as parents to make the best decisions we can for our children. For me, it’s best that I don’t drink infront of my child, ever. She’s been around alcohol, her father is able to drink in moderation, and let’s face, drinking responsibilty is an important lesson we must teach our children. Whether we like it or not, the exposure to alcohol is there.

It’s very simple though, people who drink normally don’t ever wonder if their drinking is abnormal. That includes drinking (or not) in front of their children.

mimi on

i grew up in a family of people who weren’t really big drinkers, but occasionally drank in moderation to savour the drink (european family). i remember being 3 or 4 and having my pinky finger dipped in baileys, or drinking the foam off the beer. i was allowed to occasionally have a small glass of wine or champagne for special occasions.

so i NEVER experimented with alcohol as a teen, didnt see the fun of getting blind wasted and losing control. only went through a very small “rebellious” drinking phase (i use the term rebellious lightly) for 6 months in my first year of uni, by 18 i was pretty much over it. now i only really drink moderately, wine with dinner or maybe cocktails on a rare occasion of partying. thankfully i know my limits and how to control myself when drinking.

my friends whose parents went out and bought alcohol for them because they thought it was “safer” are the ones who are still getting blind drunk at 23 every thursday-sunday and complaining about their livers being damaged, and yet cant comprehend having a “fun” night out that doesnt include vomitting in a gutter and practically living life with a permanent hangover. given australia’s binge drinking culture, this is pretty normal.

so overall i think its important to “de-mystify” alcohol. have it be present in the home as something to savour and not devour, be honest about its effects. set an example of moderate/occasional drinking but set boundaries and dont be the enabler for your underage teenager to get drunk every weekend.

Heather on

I come from a big Irish family. Drinking is present at every family function, from baptisms to funerals. Back in the day, my Dad would take me to his softball games, and we would all go back to the bar afterward. I loved his buddies, the atmosphere, and spending time with him. Obviously this behavior would be cause for jailing nowadays. I used to know that if Dad had enough beer, we would get pizza on the way home!! lol:) Now, if my Dad is going out and having some beers, he has a designated driver. He would NEVER do what he did back then, realizing now how dangerous it was. It was a different time.

I myself don’t have a problem drinking in front of my kids, I just don’t do it. The reason I don’t is because I usually only drink if I am going to “go out”, in other words, planning on having more than two. If I have more than one drink, I don’t want to be responsible for my kids. I have seen irresponsible parents drink and not watch their kids very well….I don’t ever want to be that person. One day I hope to be able to go out to sporting events/concerts/etc., have some alcholic beverages with my kids, and know that they don’t have hangups about it. Fingers crossed!!

Maria on

Taking for granted kids are going to drink is ridiculous. There are a lot of us who do not consume alcohol at all. And it is a valid choice. I don’t think it is a good message to teach your child you need any kind of substance in order to be able to have a good time at a party or to relax after a stressful day. Not really teaching good coping skills in my opinion.

Also, when you think about being blunt and honest and not sugar coating and telling a child what alcohol really is: a substance that alters your brain cells and changes your behavior and can be addictive I would feel guilty about saying this and then saying but I do it once in a while.

Kind of makes me feel like I am talking about certain other substances that are frowned upon because they happen to be illegal. (Not that I am discussing the legality of any addictive substances) And yes I know there are going to be the crazies who flare up and say chocolate and caffeine and a bunch of other things are also addictive etc. but really no comparing the effects of eating 1/2 lb of chocolate or drinking5 cups of coffee with having 5 alcoholic beverages and we all know that.

JG on

I have a five month old, and my husband and I have discussed this issue. And we haven’t come to a decision. We both grew up in houses where no one drank. Despite what some of the others have posted, I didn’t feel a need to go out and get drunk in college. My parents didn’t pretend alcohol didn’t exist. They just happen not to drink, even now. I don’t know how we’ll handle the situation, but it is a legitimate discussion. I also don’t think there’s any reason to made rude or disparaging comments about those who worry about the issue. We all as parents think about the things we want to expose our children to, and we all come to our own personal decisions

Jenna on

Honestly, I think it’s all about how we address the issue. If we make it out to be something that is a huge deal than things might get out of hand. While our children should understand the responsibilities that go along with alcohol, I don’t think they should be completely sheltered from it. It is one thing if you just don’t drink… its not your thing… but to purposefully hide it from our kids could be harmful in the long run. Issues need to be addressed not skirted around.

Steph on

To JM & Crystal…who think I’m ignorant. I am a 33 year old, college educated woman who works in the legal field. My husband and I do not drink. Both of our fathers were alcoholics, my grandfather was an alcoholic, my step-father was an abusive alcoholic. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic or will become one. I obviously have had drinks in my life, but personally don’t like the taste of alcohol and I choose not to partake.

Having said that, at no point did I say people should not be permitted to drink in their own homes. I said that if you are the ALL ADULTS in the home with children then all the adults should not be drinking. Perhaps the people who think I’m ignorant cannot read and did not understand the words I wrote….Why is it ignorant to believe there should be at least one completely sober person in the home, or anywhere else for that matter, when children are present. Obviously my child/children will know what alcohol is. I never said you can completely shelter a child. I have friends who drink, and sometimes do so in my home, and I don’t judge them for their choices. It’s amazing how people come on here and personally bash people that they don’t even know.

Stephanie on

oops above…meant ONLY ADULT, NOT ALL…

MF on

I grew up (I am 30 now) in a catholic household that definitely took a more European view of alcohol. Alcohol was present at all types of family gatherings and was even given to us during our first communions in church! My parents would drink in front of us but always in moderation and as my mom is a high school teacher she had no illusions that we wouldn’t experiment as teenagers. At family gatherings the teenagers would be allowed a glass of wine or beer and it was never a big deal. When we toured the Napa Valley during my senior year of high school, I was allowed to partake in the wine tasting with my mom.

I think because of the openness of my family both my brother and I never found the need to go crazy (and neither have most of my cousins) because alcohol was something that was aroudn and was never made a big deal of. Today we are both fairly responsible and occasionally enjoy a few drinks. (and yes there are alocholics on both sides of our family)

Jen on

Steph, you articulated your post very clearly…I’m not sure why other posters felt the need to call you out for you opinion. I’m honestly surprised that there were not more posters who, like Elisabeth, are reasonable enough to agree that drinking in front of small children is worth thinking about twice. Whether you choose to do so or not is up to you, of course. But shame on those of you who went to bat to defend your ‘drink or two.’ While I buy that your ‘drink or two’ is probably the norm, I also call complete and utter bullshit that the drink of wine doesn’t occasionally turn into a 3rd and a 4th drink every blue moon.

I’m a 32 y/o RN who just had a beautiful baby girl. I drank socially up until I knew I was preggo. My husband and I also have questioned how we should handle this issue. So far, I just cannot justify having my sweet, innocent and pure little girl wonder why Mommy smells a little different, and is giggling a little louder, and has a weird look in her eyes. Drinking was a blast! I’ve had some amazing, care-free times that range from mild to all-nighters. But that’s just it..those were my care-free days that were all about me. Now I have everything to care for, and it’s not longer about ME.

Alex on

Guess it depends how much of a hypocrite you want to be to your kids.

Raising kids is 2 parts .
Physically raising them so they grow and are physically healthy.
mentally preparing them to be an “adult” they will need to know how to share, drive, clean themselves, be social, get a job, oh and they will need to know how to deal with alcohol.

by never drinking in front of your kids you do nothing to prepare them in that area.

Carol on

At the U of Washington in Seattle in the middle 60s, sorority girls would be kicked out of their sorority if they drank even 1 drop of alcohol their freshman year.
This was a brilliant policy as it taught all the sorority girls how to have fun without ANY alcohol! To this day, alcohol is STILL unimportant to me.

Winston on

Damn right I drink in front of my kids. I even teach them how to do it, too. They’re in their mid teens and I’m not stupid; just because I was a nerd in high school who never got invited to parties or was let in on the various antics of my classmates didn’t mean things didn’t happen and things have absolutely not changed. If they don’t learn from me, who are they going to learn from? Would you rather teach your kid all about relationships, safe sex, and so on yourself, or would you rather they go out on their own and get a whirlwind introduction in a brothel? Sure, your kid is a good kid and would never do anything like that — everyone’s kid a good kid, but these things have always happened. If you chose the former, then why wouldn’t you teach your kids about alcohol at home where you’re around to make sure they’re safe, not drinking too much, and in good company. Ideally, our kids would remain pure saints all their lives and never do anything the least bit risky or forbidden, but that’s the way the world works and it is foolish and cruel to not equip your child to deal with the world.