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In Kids & Family

Drinking at kids' events: yay or nay?

Is drinking alcohol at kids' events acceptable?


"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Hornitos, OR-G, Party Armor, Red Stag, Absolut, Fireball and Malibu – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Whether or not alcoholic beverages and children's events are an acceptable mix is a controversial topic. Some say it's social, fun and shows kids how to drink responsibly, others say it's pathetic and suggests to kids the only way to have fun is to include alcohol. And there are a lot of opinions in between.

Some parents like to consume "adult beverages" at kids' parties because it mellows them out in a sugar-loaded, balloon-popping, chaotic environment. Others like to consume because they do not have many other social outlets at this point of their child-centered lives.

Brenda Klassen has three daughters under the age of 10. She says she purposely sets up play dates with her friends who have kids so she can get some socializing in while her kids do. And these play dates usually include a glass of wine or two.

"It just makes sense right now. It's killing two birds with one stone. They have fun and I have fun," she says.

Klassen points out that consuming one glass of wine or a beer or two is fine, but "getting loaded" at a kids' event, or anytime kids are present, is not cool.

"It's unsafe, of course, to drive kids around after more than a drink or two," she says. "But it's also setting a bad example."

Mike Koppa believes it's extremely important to model responsible drinking in front of children because parenting is about setting good examples. Kids, at some point, are going to experiment with drinking, and potentially other substances, and showing them it's not a big deal might remove curiosity.

"I've been at parties where another recreational drug was being passed around in the presence of children, and THAT was a hard one to accept, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was setting a good example of how and when a person can do these kind of things in a responsible manner, rather than keeping it all in the dark, behind closed doors, etc.," he says. "And for the record, those 'children' have since graduated from high school and they appear to be fairly well-adjusted citizens."

Deone Jahnke believes setting good examples is important, but the message should be that alcohol is not needed to have fun.

"It's unnecessary. There's no need to 'set an example' by drinking responsibly at a kid's party. If you feel the need to set an example, the example set should be that adults can have a good time without alcohol," she says.

Most likely, there is not a hard, fast answer. There are too many variables, like how much a parent drinks at a kid's party or how much they think about having a drink prior to the party or whether or not alcoholism runs in their family.

Koppa, for example, says that seeing parents drink at a party and seeing them get loaded in front of the TV are two totally different things.

Katharina Hren, the mother of a now 10-year-old son, doesn't usually consume at kids' events. However, she thinks it's acceptable if others drink responsibly in front of kids, as long as non-drinking parents don't have to pick up the slack.

"I also noticed that when there was a lot of drinking, I was always the only adult hanging out with the children," she says.

Klasse had a similar experience. As much as she enjoyed having a glass of wine at play dates, other moms would have three or four glasses, and then conversations tended to include more swearing and revolve around sex – or the lack of it – which she didn't find appropriate for her daughters. Hence, she says the key to drinking around kids is not to over do it and to make sure the kids are occupied in another room if parents want to have adult conversation.

"And even then you have to be careful," she says. "Little people have big ears."

Talkbacks

Hckyboy00 | Feb. 7, 2012 at 3:52 a.m. (report)

in the end i think it's the parents decision alone. It also depends on the drinker. Some people can have a single beer or a single glass of wine, others only know how to have 6 or an entire bottle. However, having an 'illegal substance passed around in the presence of children' (i'm going to go on a limb and say it's grass) is downright irresponsible and should quite frankly fall under the realm of child abuse. Its one thing to drink a glass of wine with a friend, it's another to expose children to a contact high. I've seen the 'they are going to do it anyways, so they may as well do it where i can see' defense in action, and it's pretty useless. All it does is embolden people to believe they can handle substances away from the comfort of their home, and quite frankly it's simply a lazy way to avoid education your children or god forbid, actually being the bad guy and punishing your kid for something outrageously stupid and dangerous. As long as the kids don't touch it, i leave to the discretion of the parents, however, i won't hesitate to intervene if the drinking has gone too far and they pose a risk to not only their children but to themselves.

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