Welcome to Living Above
The Influence in Dane County WI.
(CNN) If you've already allowed your kids to take a little sip of your beer or wine from time to time, you probably won't be pleased when you hear the findings of a new report.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that children who had sipped alcohol by the sixth grade were about five times more likely to have a full drink by the time they were in high school and four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk.
"I don't think parents need to feel that their child is 'doomed,' " Kristina Jackson, one of the co-authors of the study, said of parents who already let their kids have sips of alcohol.
The study involved surveys of 561 middle school students in Rhode Island over a three-year period. A little under a third of the students said they had sipped alcohol by the start of middle school, with most of those saying they got the alcohol from their parents at a party or on a special occasion.
Even when factoring out issues that could encourage problem drinking down the road, such as how much their parents drink, a history of alcoholism in their family or having a risk-taking personality, the children who sipped were more likely to be drinking in high school, said Jackson.
Twenty-six percent of the kids who had sipped alcohol said they had a full drink by the ninth grade versus under 6% for the kids who never sipped alcohol, the survey found. Nine percent said they had binged on alcohol (had five or more drinks at one time) or gotten drunk versus under 2% for the non-sippers.
"I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message -- younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks," Jackson said.
This latest study follows a report last year, also in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (PDF), that analyzed a number of studies all coming to the same conclusion: Offering even small amounts of alcohol to children could lead to negative outcomes.
A 2011 study in Sweden of 13-year-olds found that when children were offered alcohol by a parent, it was associated with a higher likelihood of heavy episodic drinking in girls but not in boys. A 1997 study of fourth- and sixth-graders in the United States found that when parents offered children a small amount of alcohol, the children were more likely to initiate alcohol use on their own.
When I did a story last year on whether it's OK to drink with your kids, I heard from plenty of people who strongly feel that introducing their children to alcohol while they are young will lead them to have a healthier attitude about alcohol when they get older. But this new study -- along with the previous research -- could give some of those parents pause, because it does seem to raise concerns about letting children have casual sips of wine and beer, or any other alcoholic drink.
The issue may be the messages we don't realize we may be sending our children, said Jackson.
"One theory is that some of these children are getting a message that drinking is okay, especially when it is offered by the parent," she said.
Let us know your opinion, should parents give their children alcohol? Send comments to email@example.com