Children and Beer Caves

One thing I have noticed over my years of working with children is the attitude their parents take concerning the exposure to alcohol.  Before anyone believes that I have a holier than thou approach, the truth is my ideas are fairly convoluted.  For example, I don’t drink around my children.  But, my wife will have a glass of wine with dinner occasionally and it doesn’t bother me in the least.  My friends also drink around my children at parties and I’m not put off by them either.  Not drinking around my children is simply a personal decision.  My goal for this post is for parents to simply think about their attitudes about alcohol and their children.

Last weekend, my wife ran out of wine.  Therefore (being the hunter gatherer of the house) I went out to correct this atrocity.  When I went to the liquor store though, I saw something that was a bit unusual.  A mom, dad, and two children (probably ages 8 and 5) walked out of the store’s beer cave with a cart full of beer.  While there are some people reading this thinking what bad parents they are, there are others pumping their fists thinking, “Now that’s what I am talking about.” Though I don’t want to judge this family, I question the message this act sends to their children.

Though I have had the same attitudes about alcohol, that doesn’t mean I am immune to an alcoholic story.  For example, about a month ago, my family attended my god son’s birthday party where alcohol was served.  I was in the yard watching my 4 year old when my 7 year old approached me.  He asked if I would open his bottle of lemonade.  I wasn’t really paying attention so I said “sure.”  When I took the bottle, it felt ice cold.  I looked down to discover it was a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  What was funny was that the other guests had thought I had sent him to the cooler to get it for me.  Of course, this was an innocent mistake.

Minutes before I started writing this post yesterday, I asked my 4 year old what he wanted to drink with his lunch.  He usually drinks chocolate milk but I am out of chocolate (I know- I know- poor parenting). Anyway, I asked what else he would like and he pointed to a bottle of Mike’s Lite Hard Cranberry Lemonade.  After a small chuckle, we settled on a Capri Sun.

I’m not about to tell parents where to draw the line on this issue.  But, out of all my convoluted opinions, I do have a strong one.  Our children may not always listen to what we say but they ALWAYS watch what we do.  Having a drink while socializing may be one thing but I can’t see why a parent would want to be drunk around their child.  If nothing else, a person’s ability to parent would have to be less than when he/she is sober.

Many of the children who I worked with at St. Joseph’s had problems with alcoholic parents.  Perhaps that’s where my disdain truly lies.  When I was growing up, I never saw my mother have a drink- let alone be drunk.  It’s certainly a lasting image I’ll always keep.  Please be responsible around your child no matter what your attitude is about alcohol. Here’s my final piece of advice. Make sure if you have to have your young child with you while you load up your cart in a refrigerated beer cave, be considerate and pack a sweater.

I’ll check in again with another post on Tuesday.  Until then, give the kids a sober hug!

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  1. KK Sierra says:

    An excellent article. The key to all things with children, in my opinion, is balance. I have a teen and younger children and I don't shield them from alcohol. I'm afraid if I do it'll become one of those "secret" adult things they can't wait to try.

    I know my parents never hid it from me and I never had any desire to explore alcohol until my late teens. My dad would occasionally have his glass of Southern Comfort or a beer while my mother never drank (as was her personal preference).

    I have bottles of unopened alcohol in my cupboard. Stuff that was purchased for a bbq or other event that has been there for months. I have an occasional beer after work, but its never a necessity. I am in no way tooting my own horn here, just commenting on perspective.

    I think it is important to talk about alcohol and its consumption. I think it is good to let your children see your example of responsible drinking. While I would never deliberately expose them to a bad situation, seeing irresponsible behavior gives you an excellent teaching opportunity. In fact, you've reminded me of something…I think I'll go blog about it! :)

  2. Growing up I never saw my parents drunk at all. My dad would have a beer at a bbq or a glass of wine at a holday dinner but that was it. My mom fell asleep if she has a sip of anything. My husband and I do not drink at all so it is not as issue for us, but I do make sure we talk about it, espcially with our 12 year old son. Thank you for an excellent article!

  3. rochie says:

    Great article. And I do agree with your viewpoint. We have saying in our country 'Ang ginagawa ng matanda ay tama sa mata ng bata' (loosely translate to 'What we(adults) do become right in the eyes of a child'.) I think as parents, we should always be mindful of what kind of messges we are telling our children with our actions or omissions. :)

  4. Thanks for reaching out, Clayton. Sometimes we get so busy (especially with promoting a book as you well know) that we don't read the blogs of others and comment (or even have time to write our own). That's not good, as this community of writers/parents are really who we need to stay in touch with.

    Your article is excellent…children do learn what we do…not so much what we say. :) I agree with the others who commented…it is really important to TALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN about issues like alcohol. It is also really important to SET A GOOD EXAMPLE and show how balance, moderation and responsible behavior are what we seek to maintain for ourselves and expect from our children. Banning all discussion about alcohol except to say NO is almost as bad as allowing children to have access to it and looking the other way. We wouldn't allow children to run out into a street full of traffic nor would we lock the doors and pull the shades on the windows and pretend there wasn't a street outside…we would hold their hands and explain how to use care when crossing…and explain the consequences of running out into the street. And then we would always practice safe street crossing with our children. :)

    Of course, every family has their own rules and ways of handling different topics. Clayton, I think your post will help many families realize this is an important issue that should be discussed and addressed.

  5. This actually makes me think of the time I saw Jamie Foxx on Jay Leno saying that his song "Blame it on the Alcohol" had gotten him in trouble with a lot of moms b/c their kids were singing his song. My daughter, who was only about 5 at the time, was singing it too – but she wasn't allowed to say the word alcohol. I just thought it sounded weird for a kid that age to be singing that. So Jamie offered the solution to replace the word alcohol with apple juice. LOL! Well, it worked for this mom. To this day that's the word she uses if for some reason she needs to mention alcohol. When she sees someone drunk on tv, they've had too much "apple juice". Now I just have to figure out how to get her to understand it's okay to say alcohol when it's rubbing alcohol. LOL! Thanks for the post – The lemonade part made me LOL!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Well written. I totally agree. As parents we must be aware of what our kids are watching and how they see us. Every day, every moment is a new message. We can't be perfect, but there are things we do have control over.