Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents Want to Provide Champagne to Teens

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family and I were invited to a holiday party with friends from our son’s previous school. The children are in 9th grade, and they will be reuniting at this event with their parents.

The host mom wrote to ask the parents if we would allow our children to have a toast of champagne at the party. With parents there, it will be controlled, she explained, and her son wants to make this offering. She asked us to get a sense of what we think. My husband and I agreed; we figure it’s better for our kid to try alcohol with us in the room. Most parents said yes -- for one glass. One parent said no, but said it would be OK for his kids to drink a soft drink at the same time. What do you think about this idea? -- The First Toast, Bronx, New York

DEAR THE FIRST TOAST: In theory, I like the idea. While I know that it is not legal for teenagers to buy alcohol, I think it is wise for parents to teach their children how to manage many situations firsthand. That includes alcohol consumption. Many teenagers will try alcohol at some point, often with their friends and without boundaries. To learn how to have a toast and make that enough could be a good example to set for them. What’s most important is for parents to talk to their children about alcohol and drugs and teach them how to be safe.

Your kids should learn never to take a glass of anything -- alcoholic or not -- without seeing it being poured. They should never pick up a glass after they have put it down and left it unattended. They should know that allowing them this one toast does not give them license to drink.

I think one toast with parental coaching around it can be a nice treat.

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