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Nov 19, 2017

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by Darryl Roberts
Magazine Issue: Vol. 2.3
teach your children well
N E X T P A G E >

teach image

Years back, while dining with my family in a casual restaurant, my niece, then five years old, asked if she could try a sip of my wine. With my sister's permission I said yes and proceeded to pour a tiny bit into a glass. I then added a couple ounces of water to dilute it. As I handed the wine to my niece I told her that wine was something she should drink while eating, because it enhances foods' flavors and adds enjoyment to a meal. While this was occurring, my father, who was seated at the opposite end of the table, caught sight of what I was doing. He reacted as if I intended to shoot my niece up with heroin. Needless to say, my niece missed out on the opportunity to share in this educational experience.

Unfortunately, my father's attitude is a common one in this country. Why? Because it's the law. Persons under age 21 cannot and, more emphatically should not, drink alcohol. Ask most adults. They'll tell you. It's wrong. Because the government says it's wrong. But my question is: should we all just blindly follow the government's advice and forbid our children this natural pleasure? And more importantly, does the government really know what's best for all of us?

So because it's law in this country we make our children wait until they're 21 to drink. Then it's okay. Why? Because something magical happens when you're 21 -- all of a sudden your body can handle alcohol. I think it's in our genetic makeup. There must be some gene that, like a timebomb's clock, counts down the days until your body can properly accept and react to alcohol. If you wait until you're 21, the bomb's defused. Consume alcohol before you're "legal," and that bomb explodes, corrupting your mind and ruining your life forever. Something like that.

It's amazing just how deep the puritan ethic that founded this country is woven into the fabric of our society. And it's amazing just how much of our European heritage we neglect because of it. We'll take the time to teach our children proper ethics, morals and to love God. We'll teach them how to drive a car, act in public and respect others. But we won't take two seconds to teach them about alcohol. Instead, like a cookie jar, we place it in front of them, then keep slapping their hands every time they're curious to see what's inside. But then, when they're suddenly "old enough," we just hand them the jar and say "Go 'head. Stuff your face." And we expect them to know how to handle the situation responsibly. Without instruction. Without guidance. Without teaching.

And we wonder why the United States has one of the highest alcoholism rates in the world.

Let's get back to our European roots. Let's teach our children to respect alcohol. Let's do what the majority of Europeans (our ancestors) do with their children. Let's take the time to bring our children up with the knowledge and understanding that alcohol is not an evil drug. That it's not something they need to sneak behind our backs. Let's take the time to teach our children that certain alcoholic beverages have a place in our lives. Let's teach our children that, in moderation, alcohol is good.

If we do, maybe we'll get a handle on the epidemic known as alcoholism. Maybe if our children learn to respect alcohol as they grow up, they'll be less likely to abuse it as adults. And instead of getting wasted in a rebellious act against authority, they'll conduct themselves in a more adult manner. If we show our children the correct path instead of criticizing them for taking the wrong one, maybe, just maybe, our responsible children will grow up to be responsible adults. Maybe.

Incidentally, Italy is a close second (behind France) in per capita wine consumption. Adults consume somewhere around 15 gallons of wine per person per year. That's about seven times as much as the average American. Yet Italy has one of the lowest rates of alcoholism in the world. Why? Because they allow their children to drink wine at an early age. They water it down and take the time to teach their children to respect it and other alcoholic beverages. I guess they've learned something over the 6,000 years that wine has been around. Maybe it's time now that we learn something, too.

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