This research tested the common belief that allowing young children to sample small quantities of alcohol at home in a family setting encourages responsible drinking later on. Over 1,000 mothers from SE USA and their 8/9 year-old children were studied. Around 15% to 40% of mothers believed that allowing 'sipping' would help protect their children from adolescent drink problems and peer pressure whereas other recent research suggests that adolescents tend to disregard such home experience when with peers. Lead researcher Christine Jackson called for education campaigns to inform parents, although the study does not yet prove that sipping actually causes later drinking. There was, however, a 'strong association' between parent belief in sipping and children's reported alcohol use. We look forward to reading the next phase of this research. Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, commented that the age at which kids first get drunk predicted far more than the age at which they first have a drink (this includes a sip).
Letting Children Sip: Understanding Why Parents Allow Alcohol Use by Elementary School–aged Children - Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine