Drinking in front of your child… responsible or not?
I’ve got nothing to hide: I enjoy booze. Sure, I’ve gone drunk shopping. Sure, I first met my husband at a big dinner dance — 3 vodka-sodas in — and didn’t remember that I met him the following day when he sent me a text and said, “Nice to meet you last night.” (Who IS this?!?!) Sure, I once poured an unfinished margarita into a spare baby bottle I had in my bag to smuggle it out for kicks and giggles in a new mom haze. I’ve even blasted a few wine glasses with my nickname in the name of adding extra pep to Pinot. We’re all adults here. Enjoying a libation is fine and welcome if you’re responsible with it, maintain appropriate behavior in public and not get behind the wheel when you’re loopy.
Give me a cocktail with a piece of fruit stuck in it on a patio in summer and I’m happy as a kid in a candy store.
Give me a cocktail with actual candy on the side and the happiness is amped up more than I should be proud of.
(Ok fine. Those images were totally gratuitous. Don’t say you didn’t enjoy them just a little bit… Long Island Iced Tea, anyone?)
Here’s the thing: Moms and wine tend to go mano-y-mano these days in media, on blogs and beyond. Chardonnay Go, anyone? A fabulous entrepreneur friend of mine (a woman with fabulous skin) has even coined the term “Weeknight Spritzer” for those single-serving champagne bottles that you can pick up at the market. (Best phrase ever!!!!)
However, with my girls getting to be school-aged now (meaning, they actually pay attention to what I do even more than before) I’m kinda starting to rethink this whole drinking in front of your child thing…
I think back to my own parents when I was growing up. I never saw them drink alcohol… ever. I know they did (hello, we’d have booze at my graduation parties and family weddings) but having a glass of wine after work or a daily nightcap never really happened at our house. I remember my mom ordering pina-coladas or daiquiris poolside on vacations… and that was about it. The first time I saw my dad drink a beer? I literally think I was in college (or, maybe my senior year in high school).
These days? My 4 and 5 year old daughters notice my husband pouring his nightly glass of wine like clockwork. They color their menus at restaurants and listen to me while I ask the waiter whether the watermelon mojito is too sweet or just right. They say “Hey look, it’s papa juice” when we roll by the wine section at the grocery store. Sometimes they’ve even been proactive in taking the wine bottles off the display shelf while saying, “Do we need more wine at home?” (I wish I was kidding.)
I’m starting to question it.
Sure, it’s harmless and kinda look-how-cute-these-kids-are now, but the pattern I’m noticing is that they’re already starting to consider booze as something ‘casual and commonplace.’ We don’t have a history of alcoholism in our family, but I wonder… will my girls start drinking early and often simply because mom and dad did it frequently at home? Maybe yes, maybe no. Kids tend to copy what they see…
In an effort to be safe rather than sorry later, I’ve started to booze undercover. We’re talking wine in glasses you can’t necessarily see through. We’re talking pointing and nodding to the specialty cocktail on the menu rather than loudly and proudly announcing to the server how “I’d like to try the new Citrus Vodka with Muddled Cucumber concoction please!” and then giggle and clap my hands like it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me when the drink is delivered to my seat.
Why so prudish? I’m trying to do the right and responsible parenting thing here. I don’t want my girls thinking that a boozy beverage is a casual thing to automatically order at restaurants the second you sit down. They’re not adults yet. I don’t want my girls to pick up on habit-formed behavior (like, needing a glass of wine to wind down) ‘just because’ before they fully understand what it is. They’re at that age where they don’t understand the subtle difference between things yet. Research shows that kids learn behavior by observing and copying their parents.
Bottom line: I don’t want them drinking in high school. Sure, they might anyways, but if they do at least I can have confidence that they didn’t learn it from me (before I ground them in their rooms forever, that is).
Just like my parents did, I will keep an open conversation with my girls about how certain drinks are for grown ups, are unhealthy for growing bodies, are against the law for underaged kids and flat-out dangerous to take advantage of and on and on. But, kids follow adults so it’s up to me to be their go-to example of moderation while they’re still young enough to absorb and accept what I’m trying to teach. Kids can learn the difference between ‘occasional & responsible’ and ‘often & necessary’ as long as we lead by example. That’s what I’m now trying to do here…
Damn, this parenting thing gets more and more complicated as kids grow! I might need a glass of wine… in a coffee cup. Do you drink in front of your children?