Parents: To what extent if at all, do you drink around your children?

I was having a friendly debate with a friend of mine over lunch today.

My stance is I don’t get sloppy drunk, as in, slurring my words or blacking out. But I do get buzzed enough that I don’t need to be driving.

My friend takes exception to this. His thinking on the matter is what if one of the kids get hurt and I need to drive them to a hospital? For my situation in particular; that’s easy, I’ll just call their Mom that lives just a couple of miles down the road. Or push comes to shove, I’ll call an ambulance. That would cost me a small fortune, but hey, at least I’m being safe.

Anyway, I was just wondering what the median thought was on this matter. I guess I don’t see it as a big deal because my parents were total lushes when I was a kid. Plus they never turned into abusive assholes when they drank either. In fact, it was quite the opposite. If I ever asked them for anything while they were drinking, the answer was almost always yes! As in: “Really Dad? I can have a big giant glass of chocolate milk five minutes before I go to bed? OK!” :smiley:

Not a parent so that probably makes my reasoning suspect, but I don’t understand your friend’s reasoning on this. Wouldn’t that mean you couldn’t ever get questionable-for-driving at any point throughout your kids’ childhood? I mean, what if some kind of “come get your kid now” emergency came up when they were at an activity/someone else’s house/etc?

What I remember most about my parents drinking when I was little was that they were like different people, and it was unsettling and a little bit scary. It was like the movie Invaders from Mars, when the kid’s trying to convince people that his parents aren’t his parents.

Next time you’re in a group – parents drinking while their kids are around – watch the kids. See how they look at their parents. You might see some laughs when daddy falls in the pool, but I think you’ll see a lot of puzzled expressions and some disgust as well.

I don’t even like to drink around my kids, and they’re adults. Being around drinkers makes me nervous.

We drink at least a glass of wine with dinner every night, sometimes more afterward. My kids are fourteen and nineteen. Sometimes the nineteen year old is allowed a small glass as well.

It does seem a little strange to me, because my family rarely drinks at all, and the boy’s dad was an alcoholic. I hope I’m fostering a healthy attitude towards moderate social drinking. And yes, a buzz does increase the likelihood that I will be friendly and generous with the chocolate milk.

I’m not a parent, and my father no longer drinks at all (automatic designated driver), but in my family it’s rather normal to have wine and/or beer at family gatherings, and over the years various family members have reached all kinds of levels of inebriation while their kids were around depending on the type of gathering (relatively sober for a regular dinner, smashing drunk on New Years Eve).

In case of emergency, there are neighbours, taxis, friends, ambulances, etc. It has actually never once come up, though; I think such a situation is unlikely enough that it’s not worth avoiding having a couple of drinks once in a while just in case. A few glasses of wine with supper will prevent most people from driving, but won’t really prevent them from still keeping an eye on their kids and bandaging up a scraped knee or whatever.

I’ve been buzzed up a handful of times in front of my kids, but never all-out drunk. Those times are kept for when we have a sitter, or after they are asleep.

I get drunk maybe twice a year, but drink every two months or so. I’m not much of a drinker, but I have no problem with my kids seeing me with a glass of wine or something. And, if I can’t drive, I can call a cab or an ambulance.

Come on, my parents drank around me and at no time did I ever think they were behaving badly - there is absolutely nothing wrong with a beer with lunch on a summers day, or while doing yard work. Nothing wrong with a gin and tonic before dinner while grilling a steak, or wine with dinner, or a bloody mary with sunday brunch. As long as nobody is driving, no big whoop.
Kids brought up around moderate and sensible alcohol use and who get a chance to try it once and a while do not treat it as ‘forbidden fruit’ and do stupid stuff, in general. In groups of moronic kids with peer pressure they may do something stupid, but in general kids are pretty sensible around what is familiar.

I don’t generally drink around my kids. I might have one glass of wine in front of them maybe once a month, usually less frequently. It’s not that I disapprove, it’s that my kids get up so early (the little one is usually up at 5:30; the older one up at 6:30 or so) that it would be impossible for me to get up with them and still feel remotely human. They’re young enough that they need an adult to be up with them when they’re up and around the house.

I also wouldn’t feel comfortable getting tipsy around my kids because my mom used to (and still does) have a drinking problem and the smell on her breath and the way she behaved when she’d been boozing it up was disturbing and unearths some very unpleasant memories of her getting mean or just sloppily emotional. I don’t think it’s completely out of line to get a little sozzled in front of your kids, but I wouldn’t.

I want them to think that drinking in moderation (NOT getting drunk) is a normal, although completely optional part of being an adult.

I almost never drink alcohol, just because I don’t like it. So they know that adults don’t HAVE to drink, and it’s no big deal not to. My husband likes to have a beer or two after work, but it never goes beyond that. I think we are showing them a healthy attitude towards alcohol.

But I must add that I don’t like your friend’s never-drink-in-case-your-needed attitude. If parents are expected to be 100% ready to meet any disaster at all times, it’s a very paranoid and unhealthy way to spend your life.

My Dad was and is a pretty regular drinker, but I can count on the fingers of one finger when I saw him really bevvied (a wedding) and he didn’t drink at home at all. I quite like that approach I must admit, being a drinker myself.

ISTM that drinking habits have changed massively between my parents generation and mine, though, at least in the UK. In my Dad’s time you did all your boozing at the pub, and there wasn’t much on offer in off-licenses and supermarkets. Drinking ‘by the hearth’ was the domain of alcoholics or loners with no mates. Wine at home was very much a middle class activity.
Nowadays it’s a different story, supermarkets shift reservoirs of booze every day and drinking at home seems normal. My kids are very young (one is 2 days :)), but I think I’d want to avoid them seeing me with a beer in hand every evening.

When my kids were younger, I never drank anything around them. I smoked at the time and I never let them see me having a cigarette either. But then, I was non-custodial and trying to put the good foot forward.

Now, I’m not such the prude. I’ll have a beer every once in a while when I’m out to lunch with them. If we’re staying up at my parents house, I’ll have a few pops with my dad, but I never get sloppy drunk around them. I don’t generally get sloppy drunk very regularly anyway, so it’s not that much of a problem.

I had this discussion with my sister yesterday. She’s a parent (of a 2.5 year old son), and I’m not. I’d just babysat him at my place for a few hours (we had a good time – played some keyboards, I put on some Brendel Mozart concerti and sat on the porch with him, and took him to the tennis courts with his little racketball racquet and ran around), and she asked if I wanted to come over to her place to get some internet while she grabbed a piece of paper she forgot to bring me.

On the way there, I asked (after saving her from a near collision with my quick reflexes and directed attention-getting) if we could stop at a liquor store. The deal was, I could have (my suggestion) one or two drinks while I was there, but no more. Of course, each drink was a half pint of whisky, so I kept my deal, but clearly she’s not comfortable with me being around, even when she’s there (and he spent half the time napping), with much liquor at all in me. I understand the concern, and I would never be anywhere near incoherent around a child in my care, but it struck me as a bit paranoid. After my two drinks, BTW, I mowed her front and back lawns, with a hand-drawn reel mower, cleaned and stored the machine, and swept her large porch – there was never any question of me being “sloshed” – but she does seem to have a bit of an issue. Not to blame her – we have a family history of alcoholism – but too much caution seems excessive.

I’m the more paranoid one when it comes to cigarettes – I’ve mostly quit, but still smoke occasionally when outside and I have cigarettes rather than my pipe. She doesn’t much care so long as it’s outside, but I’d prefer to not see my nephew become habituated to people smoking cigarettes, so I’m the one who calls the line on that one.

As a child, I never saw either parent drink any alcohol.

Same here, I can’t remember a time that there was alcohol in my house when I was a child. The only time I saw it was starting around the time I was 12 when my dad remarried. Unfortunately, for many years, my stepmother was an alcoholic so I didn’t get a very healthy view of drinking during that time. Consequently, I’m 33 years old and don’t drink at all.

I was allowed small amounts of alchol from the time I was 14ish. My father was a big believer in demystifying the forbidden. I had a few years, ironically right up until it was legal for me to drink, where I drank a fair bit but still far less than my peers.

When the kids were young I wasn’t drinking much but it was more financially motivated than anything. I didn’t have much spare cash and I didn’t want to spend my entertainment budget on something I really didn’t enjoy that much.

My drinking is on an upswing this year as I have discovered a new vodka cooler that I love the flavour of. I might average 2 drinks a month right now.

The notion that I couldn’t indulge in anything that made me less than 100% unavailable for my children during their entire childhood however… that’s a terrible way to live.

My child will never see my husband or I drink alcohol. This isn’t because we disapprove of it or anything though. My husband is diabetic and really can’t drink and I grew up surrounded by alcoholics so I choose not to drink at all. My in-laws have no problem having a drink with dinner or on special occasions so I think our kid will still see alcohol used in proper amounts, just not in our house.

I got sloppy drunk in front of my son, once, when he was about 8. (Long story, I wasn’t “on duty”, but then I was. Wasn’t driving anywhere either way.) It scared the shit out of both of us. The “Pod People” impact mentioned above was very real. I didn’t like being impaired when he needed me (emotionally, not because of injury) he didn’t like this person who wasn’t his mom.

So while I’ll drink in moderation if the kids are around, I won’t get drunk.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to abstain completely, though (unless you’re a teetotaller). I think it’s good for kids to see how adults can drink responsibly, and I’ll be totally upfront about it if I can’t drive- which comes long before I’m drunk - because I want then to realize that you should still be responsible for yourself even while drinking, and part of that is knowing when to turn your keys over to someone else.

And if my kids was injured, I wouldn’t be driving him to the hospital myself, anyhow. If s/he was stable, I’d find a friend or cab to drive us so I could sit with the kid in the backseat, and if s/he wasn’t stable, an ambulance is far safer, anyhow.

My kids have a lot of alcoholism in their backgrounds so I basically quit drinking a number of years ago except for very rare occasions, and haven’t missed it at all. They’ve been taught that they can’t afford to risk drinking, so I usually won’t, either. My husband may have a glass or two of wine a couple times a week, but mostly out of sight of them. We did drink around them when they were younger, but it became too hypocritical when they were old enough to pay attention. Neither of my parents drank, and I never had any big urge to drink anyway. I don’t have a problem at all with parents drinking responsibly in front of their kids but it’s not really an option for me.

By Shakes:

I’m not sure what degree you’re referring to here. To me, buzzed enough not to be driving is somewhat drunk. I don’t know how old the kids are here, but I wouldn’t hire a babysitter who was “not sloppy drunk”, but still too buzzed to drive. I’m not trying to sound all sanctimonious, but you asked.

I was drinking Buds with my dad when I was 15. My parents gave me a bottle of rum to take to my prom. This was how things were back in the deep dark late 70’s, early 80’s.

My parents drink wine with dinner every night, and did all through our childhood. It was totally normal to us. If they had a dinner party, they’d have alcohol before, during and after. A beer on a hot summer afternoon was standard, too. I started drinking wine with dinner at my parents’ house when I was in college, probably around age 20 or 21.

My husband and I don’t drink every night, but it’s not unusual for us to have a glass or wine or a beer in front of the kids. If the kids ask for a sip (rare), they can have one, but they know that alcohol is a drink for adults.

In the context of meals at home, I’ve never given the issue of driving (or of getting drunk) a moment’s thought.