Don’t sneer at Doug Zeigler while he drinks beer in front of his kids – he’s teaching them responsibility!
My little guy Eric comes up to me while I’m watching a basketball game. “What are you drinking, dad?”
“I’m having a beer, bud.”
“Can I try some?”
“It is an adult drink. So, no, you can’t have any now. You have to be 21.”
“Can I smell it?”
“Sure, take a whiff if you want.”
He takes a full on sniff like he inhaling fresh mountain air…but it’s a porter, so it’s nothing like that.
“EEEWWW! That’s gross, dad.”
“I actually love the taste of good beer.”
“Well, it smells disgusting!”
That was one of the first discussions of alcohol I’ve had with our youngest son. Watching his face scrunch up because he thought it smelled awful was delightfully funny. It was also probably the same face I made when I smelled beer for the first time, and I definitely made that face and quite possibly wretched a little bit when I had my first taste of beer in my teens. I bet it was funny watching me try to look cool after tasting that first Rolling Rock and having my body protest its flavor.
Some of you may view me having a beer around my kids as offensive or even reckless. But my wife and I don’t see it that way; it’s a chance to teach them responsibility.
Think about it. We try to teach our kids all manner of things that deal with personal responsibility: cleaning their rooms, asking permission when they want to do something, aiming when they pee in the toilet (our daughters thankfully have this down pat; our boys… well, they’re working on it). Hell, where I grew up, kids as young as 9 are going out hunting with their dads and moms, usually just to walk with them so they are shown and trained how to be responsible and respectful of guns.
So, by having a beer or a glass of wine around our kids, we can show that you can have restraint and be accountable. Now, it’s certainly not acceptable to be stumbling about like Captain Jack Sparrow after a good bout with jugs of rum. But I don’t think having a random Dead Guy Ale is a bad thing or conveys the wrong message; quite the opposite. There’s been more than a few times people have thrown derisive looks at us when were out eating with our children and I order a beer and my wife orders a glass of wine. I can almost hear their judgmental whispers: “Did you see those alcoholics over there, ordering drinks when their kids are right next them? The nerve!”
Too many times I’ve seen and heard of parents wanting to shield their kids from things adults do for entertainment by not telling them anything. Sex. Alcohol. Scary movies. The thing is, by not arming them with the proper information about these and many other adult-related activities, you can’t expect them to know how to manage those appetites and enjoy them as they are meant to be enjoyed: with responsibility.
So, save your sneers when my wife and I are with our kids and we order a drink with dinner. We’re showing our offspring responsibility, dammit!