Parenting & Alcohol

This is a topic, I am not an expert on but then whatever comments I make is based on my general sense of good & bad; which essentially is developed based on my religious belief and upbringing which I defended in a previous post of mine.

I have in recent times witnessed a lot of lapses in Parenting but then Shilpa’s Post finally triggered me to right this one. Here are some instances I have witnessed-

“A small gathering in the house, and breezer was served. A couple with children, aged around 10 years, allowed them to have sips/gulps from the drink.”

“A party and a large gathering the entire family is invited, everyone is drinking starting from beer, scotch, to tequila including the non adults in the party.”

“A mother during a party gives some spoonful of vodka to her toddler less than a year old.”

“Two kids discussing when they meet in a social gathering, where one of them asks other to have a beer. The other one refuses saying the parental restrictions and the other one counters telling that he always has a drink with the parents.”

All these instances have happened in front of me, the background of the kids is generally middle and upper middle class. The parents are supposedly super educated i.e. have completed their B. Tech, Mtech, MBA etc. and maintain an English speaking culture amongst them and the kids, send them to classes starting from singing, dancing, karate to salsa, tango and personality development.

Now very honestly, I don’t condone drinking for anyone and when it comes to women I believe they harm them more and for kids my only reaction is being aghast, even at the thought of it.

I know in countries like UK & US, there is a agency or a watch dog which keeps an eye on how the children are treated and an act like any of the above would be deemed illegal for the parents. And for repeated offenders the agency reserves the right to place the children in a more responsible home. In short the way the children of the country are grown up is the collective responsibility of the country and is implemented quite responsibly and rigorously.

On the contrary, India is a different land all together where we as a country are struggling to implement education for all, abolition of child labor. I am very sure that there is a law which makes the parents condoning of Alcohol below the minimum drinking age illegal but then it is never implemented. In India you can never be sure of that if you tip off the names of the people your identity would be concealed (which obviously belong to your social circle) and also the cops would come and take a bribe from the parents and leave things at that.

Now my views are totally based on the premise, that alcohol is not the best of the edible things around, not for anyone and not for kids for sure. Given the situation in India some 20 years ago the people in your social circle it was against our culture and our religion too. There would be elders who would point out that’s wrong; and even the so called forward minded drinking people would not introduce their children to alcohol. There used to be a social taboo, a religious tenet against drinking and even the people who used to drink regularly were ashamed and avoided doing it in front of their parents, children and immediate family.

Now today, “I drink with my parents” is one of the most common answers I hear from youngster I talk to these days on the topic of alcohol. In my humble opinion the legal route to this problem would never work in a country like ours. Nor does this mean I support the route of “Ram Sena” and their act of vandalism in Mangalore. But the way we have diluted the fabric of our religious tenets for the comfort and forgotten that the advancement for the sake of advancement should not be accepted.

I certainly feel that there is a need to ask that what kind of world we are creating and who governs the individual decisions that have an impact on the overall society. Consider the family and child below (Excerpt lifted and mildly edited from Wikipedia)

“He was asthmatic and was given special attention in his childhood. He was educated at the elite Mayo College in Ajmer. He then completed two years of undergraduate courses in Commerce at a college in Chandigarh. He initially thought of completing an MBA, but he joined the family business instead. He also built up the Piccadilly hotel chain including a pub-cum-discothèque in Chandigarh, and a theatre.”

Everything sounds hunky and dory and great choices above but then I believe in the family nobody questioned that why a boy less than 22 years of age has started drinking or entered in pub & disco business. We as a society will only cry foul when that 22 year old boy shoots Jessica Lal for not serving him a drink. I question the fact that he got into Alcohol and nobody in the family was aware or did anything to stop him. I don’t sympathize or support Manu Sharma but then I also believe 22 is a young age and there are mistakes you might make. There should always be a social guidelines & a check on people to avoid them from being fatal for them and the others.

This brings me back to the initial issues that how do we, as a society, keep our checks & balances? How do we distinguish right from the wrong? Is our legal system strong enough?

I believe the answer is within a broad sense of right and wrong which essentially lies in religious tenets and way of life which continuously evolve with time.

78 comments on “Parenting & Alcohol”

  1. Monika Reply

    I started writing a comment here its a page long already and have more to say with write a post instead 😉

  2. Monika Reply

    But I think I will say this here and deal with the rest in my post

    I have a huge objection against this sentence –

    “I don’t condone drinking for anyone and when it comes to women I believe they harm them more”

    I protest (yes I know its a big word and I MEAN it)- alcohol doesnt harm a women more than it harms a man IT DOESNT anything in excess is bad for EVERYONE.

      • Indian Homemaker Reply

        Prats, your only reason for objecting to women drinking is this (or any other similar) research? If research shows men and women are harmed equally by drinking, would you then stop having a different yardstick for judging women?

        • Prats Reply

          @IHM: To correct you here, I am not judging women. I am judging the effects of alcohol (man, women and kids). I object to drinking of men, women and kids, and I believe is harmful. The fight that which is more harmful for whom is irrelevant, the fact remains is that the Alcohol is harmful. I mean if we have research next day that Alcohol harms adults more than toddlers, then would I become an advocate of toddlers being fed Alcohol, absolutely no. My point to that statement was that the substance is harmful, most to the kids and as I have read somewhere more to women compared to men. But it is harmful and should not be consumed.

          • Monika

            yeah but the fact that women always come up in such discussions mentioned specially surprises me

            prats on the net I can show u a counter research on the web for every research u show what will u do next

            infact I have met a doc who actually told me that a glass of red wine a day is very good for women it makes sure they dont get anaemic 😉

          • Prats

            @Monika: Instead of showing me that result do you believe in it? Do you have a glass of red wine daily? Whenever it comes to Alcohol you only choose Red Wine for its health benefits?

            The link I posted I believe in the result and its not for the sake of saying. I stand by that research and abstain from alcohol.

    • Iya Reply

      I agree with Monika. As a country we need to get this thinking out of our systems. All women who drink are fast and hence loose! rubbish..

      • Prats Reply

        @Iya: I never talked about being loose, fast or anything like that. I just said that I “believe” that alcohol harms women more that it would do it to men. The link I have shared in the comment categorically states that same amount of Alcohol would damage the vital organs more than a man. Now that has nothing to do with the morality aspect of it or the fastness of women aspect.

        My point here is more to do with we as parents approving of our kids drinking, we as parents drinking in front of young kids forgetting the implication that they might imitate us.

        My question is “I feel the social pressure is a better way to tackle the issue than the legal route” is there a better alternative?

    • Prats Reply

      @Swaram: Yes it does, and I feel that it is our responsibility as a society to protect the children from things which might harm them.

  3. Shilpa Garg Reply

    OMG!! These are gross parenting errors… Even if we keep aside our culture, tradition, values and religion… it’s simple and plain common sense that kids and alcohol just don’t mix and that too initiated by parents themselves…. Simply outrageous! 🙁

    • Prats Reply

      @Shilpa: yes they are gross parenting errors. The thing where I believe in religion/social pressure playing a role here is simply because this is an area where legality would not function and a level of sacrifice is required from the parent which might willfully or in some case unwillingly do it.

  4. Ruchira Reply

    U know prats, I’ve spent many years in Japan where alcohol is even cheaper than water. I have seen innumerable instances of s/w engineers who come to Japan from India and as soon as they land in Japan they all start drinking like a fish and pubbing and partying like there is no tomorrow. I have seen so many instances of drunken (mis)behavior from them including picking on Japanese girls. The reason they give me is and I quote “we have finally found our freedom, In India we could not drink so much due to social/parental pressure. Give us a break, this is all a part of growing up”. So I agree, social parental pressure in our country ensures (at least most of the time) that we don’t misbehave or drink too much but as soon as we are out of the city/country we start drinking and misbehaving. So where is the problem here – In our upbringing/dilution of religious tenants or in our own perspective towards things, our ethics and inherent levels of decency and good behavior ?
    (disclaimer – I am just gave an ex. of IT engineers because I interact with them a lot in Japan – I am not pointing a finger at s/w engineers in particular) 🙂

    • Prats Reply

      @Ruchira: I agree with your observation, I am just saying the social pressure keeps a check. There might be other ways, and then finally kids and adults are different area where self choices and choices of parents are at question.

  5. Psych Babbler Reply

    Alcohol in moderation is not a problem for adults. I guess when it comes to kids and teens, alcohol is bound to affect their cognitive development and hence there exist laws such as having a certain drinking age. Having said that, it’s one thing that is hard to police. And not just in India. Here in Aus, there’s a massive binge drinking problem…and most of them are aged between 16 and 24. Unfortunately, here, violence as a result of alcohol is also on the increase. However, I am not sure about teh relationship between parents drinking/provding their kids with alcohol as I have clients who drink without their parents having a clue.

    My dad used to drink beer socially and later on a weekend or so. I still remember he gave me a sip of his beer when I was 12 or 13 and I loathed it. I didn’t drink again until I was 18. And now, I do have a couple of drinks every week (wine or beer) but I have learnt to drink responsibly. I never saw my dad get drunk and always saw him stop at one or max two drinks.

    But yeah, I wouldn’t encourage parents giving kids alcohol. After all, their cognitive development is at stake. But if parents are drinking responsibly in front of their kids and educating them about why they shouldn’t be drinking at this age, that would probably be a better option.

    • Prats Reply

      @Psych Babbler: Exactly my point. I saw these events happening in front of me and felt being guilty of a meek spectator. Searching for answers that how we can move towards a better society.

      • Monika Reply

        prats what is ur opinion abt this

        However, I am not sure about teh relationship between parents drinking/provding their kids with alcohol as I have clients who drink without their parents having a clue.

        pasted from pshyc blabbers comment

        is it a good thing?

  6. Indian Homemaker Reply

    I don’t think irresponsible parenting has anything to do with class or the language they speak at home. I know of young boys, less than fifteen, who clean cars in our society drinking because their fathers and every other male around them drinks. I have also had an old woman working for me, who had to be fired because she missed days of work because of her drinking problem.

    When a minor says their parents are aware of their drinking, it does not necessarily mean the parents encourage it. It is possible that the parents would rather be aware of what was going on, so they can guide and monitor the drinking, so they don’t ban it completely.

    I agree with Ruchira about the way Indians start drinking the moment the fear of society/parents is not there. I know of adults who drink but would dare not tell their parents about it – even if it becomes a problem. In one case this married man needed rehabilitation, but the parents believed their upbringing was so strict, he could never drink. Why do you see that as a good thing?

    I know of other parents too who live in denial, everybody knows their child drinks but they would not believe it. Why can’t the child discuss this honestly with the parents? Confused ideas of ‘strict’ parenting lead to a lot of unhappiness for entire families.

    If one went by strict upbringing logic, than the small towns and rural areas of India would have no drinking problem? And villages?

    And if the society is offended more by women drinking, they really need to ask themselves why and how did they assume that women are to be judged by a different yardstick. Religion, tradition and customs have generally been biased, based on caste, gender, class – that is one more reason to always put common sense above the rationale they preach.

    Unfortunately Indian culture/custom/society is about, “do whatever you like, just don’t get caught”.

    • Prats Reply

      @IHM: I never said that it is a problem of class, the point I was trying to make was this problem is creeping up even in the educated and so called aware people too.

      Well the tone of the minors do suggest what they are implementing, it is very difficult to simulate the tone in the post so I mentioned the crux I could interpret of it.

      So you say that let the kids drink, eat, smoke whenever and whatever they want? I am sorry but I don’t agree with that.
      A legal age for kids has been established in almost all the countries across the world, that is a point where you start giving them control of their life.

      When you are getting into an area on the effects of a choices an individual made? Did he need the rehab when he was a kid, did he drink as often as he does today when he was under the guidance of the parents. I believe we all agree that beyond a point kids stop being a kid. Now for a 35 year old man committing mistakes in his life, the parental control cannot be the prime motivator or de-motivator.

      Living in Denial, I should have mentioned in my posts. I am talking about responsible parenting, may be Manu Sharma’s parents lived in denial too. You shouldn’t condone kids drinking, if your kid is drinking you should address it.

      I am sorry I don’t have a data to validate or contradict it. But then do a random sampling in the bars you would find more underage kids in the metros & tier I cities compared to tier 2 cities (Which I agree is not the apt measure but for the lack of a standard it can serve as a very rough metrics)

      I am sure the society is coming to an acceptance and the yardstick are difference. That was the reason you would find more supporters of Pink Chaddhi campign than Ram Sene in today’s world. Ram Sene exists, there are dark spots or black sheep in every society and we have to live with it.

      I so wish if a one-liner could summarize, capture the essence of Indian Culture, Customs, Society. Guess there is loads for you to find out about it.

  7. Phoenixritu Reply

    Prats, I have my opinion – which may not fit into the accepted norms. I have always encouraged my kids to drink at home, when I felt they were old enough to drink. Ditto with smoking. My simple rule is that these are things that they will experiment with. I do not want them to make asses of themselves in public or drink/smoke out of sheer rebellion. So they learnt to conduct themselves at home responsibly and then they could do so in public. It took away the fun of rebellion but taught them how to behave – with a drink in hand.

    You can freak, you can think it is “not Indian culture” or whatever. And yes, I would follow the same path with a daughter – if I had one.

    Both my sons do not smoke – they are through with it. Both of them drink – only on weekends or if we have a party.

    And yes, they are not punks or unnecessary rebellious. They are not conducting themselves sneakily either. I feel that parents know what they are doing, by and large. We can’t stand judgment on them unnecessarily.

    • Prats Reply

      @PhoenixRitu: I will pull up a situation in analogy which at first might seem very stupid and naive, but if you would think deeper the point I am making has a similar basis and also the situation at a very basic level is similar. You see a kid moving towards the live electricity wire you would have told him/her all about electricity and shock. You see him going for touching the electricity wire, what do you do let him go and experience the shock and to take him off immediately or stop proactively. Letting him have a shock it’s better he experiences it in a controlled environment in front of parents so if it starts turning back you can control and intervene if you stop him proactively he might experience by surprise and grips firmly the object causing the shock and have a fatal shock.

      My Point: What is harmful is harmful.

      • Phoenixritu Reply

        Who says alcohol is harmful? Excess of anything is bad, but alcohol in moderation is okay. Have you not heard of a “medicinal drink”? Being open and conducting yourself responsibly is okay. Going by your analogy we should stop using electricity because of the shock

          • Phoenixritu

            ROFL yeah, definitely not that ahem creatively, but whatever floats a person’s boat. If someone wanted to use elecy that way, I would not judge the person either

          • Prats

            @PhoenixRitu: I am questioning about kids using it and parents condoning, I must say I would be judgmental.

          • Phoenixritu

            Prats, would you tie up a kid to a bed and curb his/her right to masturbate? What the kid does in his/her bed is his/her business if the kid is sexually mature. Parents do not need to condone or condemn. Heck, as a parent, I am all for kids to grow independant of our supervision sooner rather than later

          • Monika

            prats wasnt this the same example I gave u? its much like sex ed.. really we know kids will experiment (and I dont think its wrong) and we just want them to do it safely

            PS: u started the conversation boy 😛

          • Prats

            @Monika: Sex ed and to have sex with someone is different, Similarly educating about Alcohol and consuming Alcohol are different. I am all in for the education but not for consumption for the kids.

            Given your analogy you drink with an elder when you are a minor, sex between an elder and a minor is considered a criminal offence equivalent to rape that is exactly my point.

  8. Phoenixritu Reply

    I feel that parenting in this country is more of a master-slave relationship. We refuse to believe our kids are grown up and do not treat them as responsible people. Even 10 year olds and younger have a fine distinction between good and bad, right and wrong. If the 10 year old’s parent allowed sips of a breezer, that 10 year old wont go out, guzzle, puke or feel up a girl in a shady party of teenagers. He/she knows what it tastes like. Besides the parent knows how much has been given.

    P.S. My kids were 16+ when I allowed them a beer and kept a strict watch on the quantity for a while until I was satisfied that they would not make idiots out of themselves

    • Prats Reply

      @PhoenixRitu: Why moderate the quantity? If you have no objection let them go all the way and experience the higher they can go?

        • Phoenixritu Reply

          And jokes apart my job was to teach them moderation – and I am proud that I did a good job of it. They are not alcoholic, they are non smokers and they are definitely not sleazy like kids that use alcohol as an excuse to feel up girls. Yes I have seen kids do that

          • Prats

            @PhoenixRitu: 🙂 I understand what you say, and I agree you have done a good job to do that. You know the sleazy like kids that use alcohol as an excuse to feel up girls, don’t you feel that as a society we are somewhat responsible for their mistakes. We as a society have lost something some where that these kids have increased in number?

          • Phoenixritu

            In reply to your comment below, I feel that as parents and society we have failed such children by being over-strict and hypocritical. We have forced them to experiment with such things in the company of kids their age who cannot exercise any checks and balances. In front of parents such kids put up a prim and butter would not melt in their mouth appearance and then they go wild behind their backs.

  9. shail Reply

    I will just comment on the “social pressure keeps a check” That is mere rubbish. Social pressure only drives things underground, away from the eyes of those watching.
    I am of a generation before you guys and there was enough of social pressure during my student days. But that did NOT stop any of my peers from doing what they wanted stealthily. They just were this ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ types in front of their blissfully ignorant parents.
    Now things are more in the open, that’s all.

    • Prats Reply

      @Shail: The question is at what age? I am sure everyone in this world would do what they like to but the question here is would social pressure keep a check on our children to start consuming Alcohol? I believe it works only to an extent; in this post I am searching for answers, and if social pressure is not the best way what you think would be best?

  10. Kirbyakasid Reply

    I’m sorry – I didn’t read all comments because there are so many!!

    This is a tough one, I think. As a parent, I think giving young children alcohol is never good. I believe it can actually stunt their growth. I am an adult woman and I do drink, that’s my choice. A young child does not have that choice – I would essentially be forcing it on them – and they are not in a position to understand the negative effects, as an adult is.

    However, my child is now 13. He is allowed a sip of alcohol at christmas. My reason for this is that he is curious and I worry that if he isn’t allowed to try it a little before the age of 18 he is bound to go mad at 18 (I have seen so many do it) and binge drink and maybe even worse. I’m hoping I will have prevented this.

    Alcohol damages women more than men? Interesting. I’d be interested to see the research on that.

    • Prats Reply

      @Kirby: You know I am in total agreement of what you say. Yes there are research on that you can find it on NIAAA website.

  11. momofrs Reply

    Rather an interesting topic Prats.
    I’m shocked at parents feeding hard-drinks to their toddlers!! That is irresponsible parenting at the best.
    But on the other other hand, coming from an army background, we had access to Brandy as kids (winters in the North are killing :D). A typical dosage would be a spoon of brandy coupled with a spoon of honey and warm water. Sometimes, just to experiment, we would skip the honey 😉
    I’m glad to say that when I had that stuff as a kid, I realize now that there is no big deal to it. Though my brother has a peg or two in parties, it is not a part of his cabinet. And neither do I or any of my sister’s even sip any alcohol.
    Like Ritu says, it is better to be able to monitor your kids in your presence than to be blissfully unaware of the alcohol that runs in their blood 🙂
    It is always better to stay away from alcohol 😀 because you cant expect your kid to be a tee totaller if you love nursing your drinks everyday!!!

    • Prats Reply

      @MomofRS: I agree and I totally agree with the statement “It is always better to stay away from alcohol because you cant expect your kid to be a tee totaller if you love nursing your drinks everyday!!!” and I am not against monitoring or something or having/not having with parents. The question is why as a parent you condone underage drinking and what can be done to stop it?

  12. Indian Homemaker Reply

    I agree with Momofrs, Phoenixritu, Monika, Iya, kirbyakasid, Shail and Ruchira.

    Shail put it succinctly, “Social pressure only drives things underground, away from the eyes of those watching.”

    Do you know in my grand mother’s times non-vegetarian food was considered harmful for women? Jeans, alcohol, freedom etc are still seen by many as ‘more harmful’ for women. Each such claim I guess is based on some research.

    • Prats Reply

      @IndianHomeMaker: There is a research that Hashish, cocaine and marijuana which are harmful. Would you still consider giving it to the kids? One has to make a line.

    • Prats Reply

      @Ashwathy: Exactly my point and I believe that in a society general tenets are defined by our religion and implied by social pressure.

  13. Smita Reply

    You know yesterday me n hubby were having this discussion wherein he asked me “will we let him taste chicken?” (Am a pure veg & so are my in-laws but my hubby eats non veg) I said, “if he likes it why not, let him eat whatever he likes” to which hubby jokingly said, “what if he likes alcohol, will u give him that also?”

    To which I said, “We will know whether he likes chicken or not if we make him taste it but do you think we will make him taste alcohol to know whether he likes it or not?”

    Having said that I totally agree with you that alcohol is something bad which shouldn’t be encouraged and the examples that u have put up are sad. I am sure about one thing, I have never stopped my hubby from occassional drinking but excess of anything is bad. As far as my son is concerned, I wud tell him the good & the bad and let him go. Rest all wud be taken care by my upbringing.

  14. Surabhi Reply

    Hi Prats,
    Iam new to your blog & I must say I loved your post very much,I totally agree with you.There is a set age for everything & should be followed.As sane adults its our duty to guide our kids & show the right path .Way To Go.

    • Prats Reply

      @Surabhi: Welcome to Ginger & Cardamom. That is exactly my point as a responsible citizens of our society how can we condone underage drinking?

      • Surabhi Reply

        Yes Prats , its not only about the legal limits, its also about our physical ability to resist the effects. The Govts of almost all the counties have set an age limit on things like alcohol and conceiving a baby because of some logic, that is at younger age even the body and its parts are not ready to take alcohol or pregnancy .And kids are kids ,always , even if you join them and let them try alcohol in front of you, what is the guarantee that they will not do it outside and try something else with their friends? What do people have to say about conceiving a baby at age 15?

        • Prats Reply

          @Surabhi: I agree, things like this are a grey area and the responses of people would vary. The legal limits are set to over all direct the kind of society we are forming and leaving for our generations to come.

  15. Meira Reply

    Hmm! Quite a discussion, eh? I have nothing against men or women who drink, but I would definitely judge parents allowing their kids to drink, before they are made to understand about the pros and cons of alcohol. I remember my father letting me have one sip of his scotch once, and only once, to quell my curiosity. He made it very clear that I was not to touch it till I was an adult. I stuck to it, and I wish all parents could make their kids to that too.

  16. Bindu Reply

    While I agree with you on not experimenting with kids whether it is alcohol or dope, we also have to be aware of the world that we are living in today.
    Today’s kids are exposed to so much at a very early age, hiding or even putting very serious restrictions on them will surelyh backfire, will be a classic case of a forbidden fruit being sweetest. Kids are surious by nature. I remember my father giving me a few drops of beer when I was a kid to satisy my curiosity and I hated it so much, haven’t tried it again after that!
    The best way to go about it is provide a healthy and open environment at home where kids are allowed to ask questions about anything and parents being tuned into their needs and moods.
    Whenever our son asks for a sip, we tell him very clearly that it is an adult drink and we will buy it for him if he still feels like having it when he is 18.
    I am totally with Phoenixritu on this. I know kids will experiment and I’d rather they do it home rather than making fools of themselves somewhere else.
    We need to be practical here.
    One question, Prats, do you have kids of your won?

    • Prats Reply

      @Bindu: I don’t have kids of my own as of now. But I do feel concerned about the kind of world I would be growing them in when I do have them. I agree that kids these days are exposed to a lot of things and I believe as a parents and elders it is our duty & moral responsibility to educate them and filter their exposure with things which might harm them.

  17. Ram Pyaari Reply

    I cannot believe that this is actually true! the instances of the kids drinking! that is mind boggling!

    I dont drink but my husband does. And though there is no plan of having kids in the near future, I just cannot help but think what will happen when he/ she sees my husband drink…..

    • Prats Reply

      @Ram Pyaari: Exactly, I have a similar dilemma. I don’t drink but a lot of my relatives do and we often socialize together how do we control the exposure to what the kids would see.

  18. Moral Police Reply

    A thought provoking article in WSJ:
    It’s easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn’t dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: “Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven’s sake, get laid!” But that’s essentially what we’re saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they’re still living under our own roofs.

  19. ES Reply

    Alcohol is not good for health, even for elders. Tell this to any one, and they get shocked! They think alcohol is some kind of water and does the same function which is vital to health!! 🙂

  20. Reema Reply

    Ooohh huge discussion!! I hate alcohol of any kind including beer. Neither I drink nor does anyone in my family including D.

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