AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Parents may think they’re doing good by allowing their kids to sip and taste alcohol in front of them, but new research from the University at Buffalo raises real concerns about the practice.
“Most parents think that it reduces harm because it sort of reduces kids’ curioursity about alcohol use because they get to taste it,” UB Psychology Professor Craig Colder explained.
Tasting that forbidden fruit could be far from fruitful, according to Colder’s new research published recently in the journal Addictive Behavior.
“I think part of what sipping and tasting does is it conveys certain attitudes about alcohol use — that alcohol, particularly underage drinking, is maybe permissible, and that it’s an okay thing to do,” Professor Colder explained. He believes the practice changes the way kids assess the risk of drinking. Most research shows one third of kids will taste alcohol, with their parents’ permission, before they turn 12.
Professor Colder studied a group of about 750 teens here in Erie County. He started interviewing them when they were between 10 and 12 and checked up on them annually for seven years. Those who tested alcohol with their parents grew up to be heavier drinkers. “Drinking with parental permission at this early age was predictive of both frequency of alcohol use and quantity of alcohol use when kids were between 18 and 19.”
His research revealed teens start drinking without parental permission by the time they turn 13 or 14. “My advice to parents is to think about what they’re conveying when they allow kids to sip and taste and the attitudes they”re conveying about alcohol use may not be benign.”
Colder wants to do more research focusing on the context in which kids drink — are they drinking at parties — or the family dinner table?