In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, a regulation enforced since 1984. Nevertheless, exceptions exist in 45 states, allowing underage drinking in specific situations. While most require parental consent and relate to private property, some states permit drinking without parental permission. Six states allow drinking on private property, and eight states allow it in public establishments with parental consent. Despite legal restrictions, some American parents opt to let their children consume alcohol before turning 21. Here's why.
Religious Traditions in Ohio
Becky from Ohio, where minors can drink on private property with parental consent, allows her teens a taste of alcohol, influenced by their interfaith background. Celebrating both Christian and Jewish feasts, wine is part of the Jewish Seder, and Becky permits small glasses during rituals. She emphasizes open conversations about alcohol's risks due to family history of alcoholism.
Family Tradition in Washington
Ann in Washington, where minors can drink with parental permission on private property, normalizes alcohol sampling based on her own upbringing. Raised with occasional sips of wine and beer, Ann educates her children on alcohol types and responsible consumption. Now that her kids are of legal age, only one chooses to drink occasionally.
Preparing for College in Pennsylvania
Tiffany in Pennsylvania has allowed her teens to drink, including wine at family occasions, to demystify alcohol and avoid college binge drinking. Concerned that no exposure might lead to excessive drinking, Tiffany discusses alcohol's dangers and encourages responsible choices. Her 16-year-old, who sampled alcohol, currently shows no interest in drinking.
Life Lessons in Pennsylvania
Tiffany is firm about no drinking by other teens in her home. She emphasizes life lessons by making her older kids, now of legal age, continue with responsibilities after overindulging. This hands-on approach aims to show the realities of excessive drinking.
Modeling Parental Behavior in Maryland
Marybeth in Maryland, raised in a household where teenage drinking was allowed, adopts a lenient approach at home. Offering sips during celebrations, she models moderate adult consumption. While her children rarely accept, she ensures they understand responsible choices. Marybeth prefers not to allow other minors to drink in her home.
Expert Perspective on Teen Drinking
Brenda Conlan, an alcohol and other drug educator, cautions against allowing teens occasional alcoholic beverages. Delaying alcohol use reduces the likelihood of alcoholism. Conlan emphasizes sobriety carries zero risks, making occasional alcohol provision unnecessary. She recommends modeling moderate adult consumption and encourages open conversations about struggles with alcohol if teens inquire.
Parents are advised to continually reassess their approach to teen drinking and conduct research to establish a healthy relationship with alcohol.