The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance on alcohol use by young people is sometimes challenged by parents arguing that a sip might help put the child off for longer, or that a ‘Mediterranean’ approach would foster a more healthy attitude to alcohol.
This research carried out in the US may give pause for thought.
1,050 pairs of mothers (or female carers) and their 8 and 9 year old children took part in the research over a 4-year period. They were interested in what effect having pro-sipping beliefs (that this would protect their child) made to the behaviour of children.
They found a range of pro-sipping beliefs; from having a sip of alcohol could make children less likely to drink in their teenage years to that it would make them better at resisting peer influence, and report positive beliefs about allowing children to sip ranged from approximately 15% to almost 40%.
Unfortunately they also found that counter to the intuitive beliefs of those mothers there was a “strong, significant association” between parental prosipping beliefs and children’s reported alcohol use.
The researchers conclude:
The notion that early exposure to alcohol can be beneficial has a strong foothold among some parents of elementary school–aged children. More research is needed to understand how parents acquire prosipping beliefs and to test messages that effectively modify such beliefs and associated prosipping attitudes and practices among parents.