Friday, June 22, 2012

Mommy's Juice

It's no secret that I'm a wine-o.  I just plain old love wine.  The taste, the buzz, the connotation of relaxation that I have enabled it to represent.   I try to limit myself to one weeknight per week, and oh, how I look forward to it.

The pouring of the wine usually happens right after my kids go to bed (can we all say a collective Aaaaaaaaaaaah), but on occasion, particularly at restaurants, Braden has seen me with a glass of wine.  I can't remember when we came up with this name, but he now calls it "Mommy's juice." Braden knows that "Mommy's juice" is just for mommies, but he always asks to smell it.  I admit that we all get a kick out of this and think it's kind of cute.

I never really thought much of it, to be honest.

Then last week I went to a lunch with Debbie Phelps (yes, the Debbie Phelps, mother of the Olympian), Hilary Phelps (yes, the sister of the Olympian), some other local bloggers, and representatives of the Century Council, which is a national not-for-profit dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.  As part of their initiative, they have developed a program called Ask, Listen, Learn to help parents talk to their children about health and underage drinking.

That's me in the back.  The back back.  The floating head.
Obviously I won't be having such a talk with Braden for quite some time.  The kid gets all in a fluster over chocolate milk and juice boxes these days.  But, as I sat there listening to the statistics about underage drinking and how if a child has a drink before age 15 that they are significantly more likely to become alcohol dependent at some point in their lifetime, guilt washed over me about "Mommy's juice" and how I have "cutified" something that is actually quite serious.

Maybe it's not so cute.

That's not to say that I am going to stop drinking wine.  Oh no, no, no.  I drink wine responsibly (with a few exceptions, always sans kids!).  I am a grown up.  I have earned it.

But my little boy... my God, the issues he is going to face.  And the issues I'm going to have to face as his mom.  Steering him in the right direction, but not controlling him.  Having faith he will make the right decisions.  And dealing with the flashbacks of my own life when I wasn't so wise, and praying to God that he won't be as stupid as I was.

Man, I really don't want him to grow up.  But in reality, it's not that far off.

Should I be laid back about it?  Let him have a sip of alcohol every now and again (once he's older of course), so it doesn't seem all the more attractive because it's forbidden?  Or do I draw a hard line?  No exceptions?  Set out consequences?  Or should I be the mom that offers to pick him up if he's been drinking so he doesn't end up getting in a car, no questions asked?

Maybe it's some compromise of all of the above.  The truth is, I have no idea.  I suppose I'll figure it out as I go.

But there are resources.  If you do have a "tween" and want to start talking to them about these issues, you can go to the Ask, Listen, Learn website.  There's a lot of tips and helpful information there.

As for me, for now I'll rename "Mommy's juice" something more appropriate.  Like "thou which shall not be consumed by you until your 21," or maybe something crazy like, "red wine."

And I'll relish his innocence while I still can.


  1. Personally I think vilifying alcohol to kids is doing more harm than good. My experience is only anecdotal of course, but I feel like making alcohol somewhat of "not a big deal" is the best way to go. Starting when I was around 10 or so, my parents let me have sips of their drinks whenever I asked for them. And by the time I was in my early teens I was allowed to have wine with dinner if my parents were (1 glass, which my mom mixed half and half with sprite). Alcohol never felt "omg so cool" to me it was just a part of my life at home. And I drink farrrr less than most of my friends.

    I think the more important aspects to keeping a kid on the sober and narrow are 1) Making sure they aren't friends with a "bad crowd" who party all the time and 2) Making sure they know that it is a far far better thing to call home drunk than to drive home drunk. I never had to utilize that particular offer when I was a teen-- but I did always appreciate the fact that I knew I'd never be put in a position of either having to try to drive home when I shouldn't or get in trouble.

  2. We told our son that alcohol is bad for kids and makes them sick, and that it makes adults sick if they have too much so adults have to be careful. I explained that the bigger and heavier you are, the less effect it has on you, so even a little bit will make him sick until he is much bigger and older. He's only 5 and that's plenty for now. We occasionally drink in front of him and I don't think it's a big deal.

    Anyway, the resources you linked to do sound interesting for older kids. I am hoping that setting the stage early on will make him less interested in drinking for recreation as a teen.

  3. I agree with Lyndsey; I was also from a home where alcohol was "no big deal." I NEVER drank underage unless I was having a glass of wine with my family, which I was allowed starting at 11 or 12 years of age. By the time I got to college, drinking held no allure--I also agree with the suggestion of knowing your kids' friends. This is a guess, but if my parents had ever suspected I might be hanging out with someone who made irresponsible lifestyle choices, they probably would have nixed my hanging out with them. Harsh, but effective...

  4. My parents aren't big alcohol consumers-my dad has an occasional glass of red wine after dinner; my mom really only has some at holiday dinners. If we were out for a special occasion or on vacation in a new city, my dad would sometimes order a drink at dinner to try the local fare (beer, margarita, etc.) But my parents let my brother and I try sips of their drinks so that it wouldn't be taboo. As we got older, we were occasionally allowed a glass at Thanksgiving or Passover dinners, depending on the host. By eliminating the curiosity and emphasizing responsible drinking, we learned alcohol was something to be consumed in moderation.

  5. Another viewpoint, my parents were always very open about letting us try a sip of wine, sip of beer, etc. No big deal. Then, at some point (probably when I was 16 or so) I started LIKING it. I started sneaking it (it was easy to sneak). And I went on to binge drink my way through college and my early twenties. I'm not saying my parents' attitude was the reason, just saying that the whole "alcohol is not a big deal thing" doesn't always work.


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