Should kids be allowed to drink with parents?

Judging by the immediate — and limited — reaction on Twitter, a bill to allow 16 year olds to drink in the company of parents is a winner, although it probably has little chance of passage.

State Representatives Phyllis Kahn and Joe Mullery filed the bill at the Minnesota House of Representatives today. It allows people as young as 16 to drink in bars and restaurants when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The bill also lowers the drinking age (in bars and restaurants) from 21 to 18.

Why limit it to bars and restaurants? This story out of Pennsylvania offers the answer. A woman bought a half-keg of beer for her son’s graduation party. Three kids were killed about a mile away. She just pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in three months. (h/t: Dennis Jansen)

Wisconsin allows kids to drink in bars and restaurants when accompanied by parents (just don’t try to play a guitar). There is no minimum age requirement for kids in those situations.

But some lawmakers in Wisconsin want to set the minimum age to 18. A bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly in 2010. It was opposed by a “youth rights group,” which said it’s a family matter. The bill never made it into law.

  • David

    Oddly enough my wife and I were talking about this yesterday. While growing up she was allowed to drink beer/wine whenever she wanted with her parents. She has about 1 beer a week. I was also allowed this and have one avg one beer a day.

    We believe part of drinking responsibily is being taught how to drink responsibly.

    Note: She drank a little more frequently in college. I didn’t drink at all while in college.

    I think this is a good law, but have to admit that I already thought this was legal.

  • Bonnie

    I am always mystified by high school graduation parties that serve alcohol. The vast majority do, but if adults can’t spend a couple of hours celebrating the accomplishments of someone’s child without alcohol, I find that disturbing. I didn’t make a big deal out of my daughter drinking an occasional beer or wine cooler at home during high school, I did not want her going off to college not having some experience with it. But we don’t need it in public spaces. 18 year olds, if anything, are a lot younger than they used to be. The 16-20 year olds can be the designated drivers when the family goes out for dinner.

  • kennedy

    The proposed bill requires that a parent/guardian be in attendance. The woman in Pennsylvania served to underage children that were not hers. I’m pretty sure that if the parents of all the kids were in attendance, the party in PA would have gone differently.

  • Chris

    I want to second David’s point. My parents were very strict about not drinking until 21( in fact if you believe me I didn’t have anything besides church wine until 12:01am of my 21st) but I was an anomaly. I feel like we already have 100+ years of data from the rest of the world that 16 year-olds drinking isn’t the end of the world. I mean it’s pretty well known that if kids aren’t already drinking in high school they do in college, and the bigger problem,binge drinking, loses a big part of its appeal if one has already been drinking for 2-3 years beforehand(unless someone has a study that suggests otherwise).

    Plus this will stimulate the economy of local restaurants, right?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Great idea. The family that drinks in bars together gets DWIs together.

    Yes, kids should be taught/permitted to drink at home with responsible parents.

    Better yet, smoke a joint or have special brownies for desert, which by all accounts is less physically and psychologically harmful than alcohol.

    Kids drinking in a bar is a different matter, because of potential risks involving inappropriate social interactions as well as driving.

  • Justin H

    The first time I came to MN it was with my dad to look at a college. We went to dinner and I tried to order a beer (I was 18 and from wisconsin). Eventually the manager came over and explained you can’t do that in Minnesota.

    I did end up going to that college, and as it turned out, the drinking age didn’t end up mattering so much once I was there.

  • Kate Sommers

    I was allowed to drink on certain occasions growing up (and yes, I’m from wisconsin) and was baffled when I wanted a pina colada at the MOA when I was 17 in town touring the U that I couldn’t drink with my mom’s permission. I consider myself to be a very responsible drinker (usually wine, occasionally whiskey) and am grateful my parents brought me up to think of alcohol as a treat and enjoyment. The law isn’t really the issue (though I think Minnesotans are quite puritanical when it comes to their perception of alcohol) but the mentality of alcohol as a whole. I’m currently pregnant and hope that when my sons are 12, we can water down wine and teach them to enjoy such a simple pleasure responsibly too.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Kate Sommers – “I’m currently pregnant and hope that when my sons are 12, we can water down wine and teach them to enjoy such a simple pleasure responsibly too.”

    Congratulations! Your boys will be blessed to have such an enlightened mother.

    But remember this: Whisky and wine are for drinking, water is for washing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    ( Are you having twin boys? You might be addressing alcohol issues before they hit 12 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Eiolgj

    I agree that kids need to learn about responsible drinking. Now they may only “learn” to drink in college or in the army, from their peers, not from older responsible adults. But the problem I have is that you wouldn’t have the kid drink in a restaurant if the parent wasn’t drinking, but who is to drive home sober? If people drink at your house, they have to drive home, unless you put a lot of blankets on the floor. (Which one of my son’s friend’s mother did, and she took away the keys, but those kids were still in high school, and not legal.)

  • Dan

    … Well this smacks of sensationalist law making. Even though I may, at times, be called “liberal” – and therefore thrown into the DFL tank (deserved, or not). This bill is simply stupid. Whatever families want to do at home, with respect to alcohol, is their business (note: I drink PLENTY!). However, forcing abstinent, or limited, or non-juvenile drinker families… etc., etc., into explaining the differences/variations between these various philosophies to their children – EVERY time they go to a restaurant… is (to use the same evil word again)… stupid! Let everyone go to restaurants in peace (even if they can’t smoke ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Lew Bryson

    Dan, you say it’s stupid to have to force “abstinent, or limited, or non-juvenile drinker families… etc., etc., into explaining the differences/variations between these various philosophies to their children – EVERY time they go to a restaurant.” Isn’t that exactly what current law forces on families who see limited, parental-supervised drinking as their own, valid philosophy? So why is it stupid one way…and not the other?

    As for “who’s going to drive home,” regardless of the scary propaganda put out by the anti-alcohol folks, one beer, of average strength, especially when consumed with a meal or even a half-portion of nachos, doesn’t impair you. “Impairment begins with the first drink” makes a catchy phrase, but you forget that what it really means is that it begins with the first drink…because you can’t have the third or fourth without having the first.

    My son is 20. He’s allowed to drink in the house — not anywhere else, and not when his friends are here — ever since he and I went to Montreal last year, where he was legal to drink, and he behaved himself quite well. This most recent New Year’s Eve he had three friends over; the parents drank adult drinks out on the deck around the fire, the boys drank Dr. Pepper and watched TV till 3 AM. No problems. Treat them with some respect, and show them a good example.

  • Tessa Schaffeld

    Kids to drink with parents ? In my humble opinion and as a parent of 1 boy, I must say that we shouldn’t keep them with their mind ” closed ” to a drink just because it’s bad for them.

    If we do this, the implications will be worse and when he or she will go out with a friend, you can’t know if they drink or not. And in most of the cases, it’s worse than letting them experiencing the taste with you