When Do You Let Your Kids Try Wine?

Photo by CN Digital StudioPhoto by CN Digital Studioby Michael Y. Park, Epicurious.com

In Slate, Mike Steinberger has a thought-provoking piece that details his explorations into whether he's encouraging or helping prevent alcoholism in his kids when they're adults by letting them have an occasional sip of wine now.

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He ticks off the pros: the 1983 book The Natural History of Alcoholism, which concluded that kids from non-drinking household were seven times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction; the recent bestseller Bringing Up Bebe, and the conventional wisdom that the French don't binge drink at least in part because they grow up in a culture where you have a glass of wine (and only a glass) with meals.

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Then he brings up the con, and it's a doozy: Recent studies have found that binge drinking has exploded among French teens in the last few years, and they're starting to do it younger and younger. (And, not surprisingly, the French government seems to be implicitly blaming the English.)

Steinberger ends up deciding that he's going to keep doing what he's doing, allowing the kids occasional sips while emphasizing responsibility and moderation through his own example. But what do you think? When is it the right time, if at all, to introduce kids to alcoholic beverages, and how do you do it?

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