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Kids Model Mom's Drinking Habits, Not Dad's


Something else for us mothers to feel guilty about, it seems. The British think-tank, Demos, just released the results of a study that tracked the drinking patterns of 18,000 people over three decades. They found that as teens, the subjects did what their friends did, for the most part. But when they were reassessed at age 34, the odds that they binge drank rose—a lot—by how much they, as a child, thought their mother drank. How much their fathers drank, believe it or not, had virtually no effect. They chalk that up to the fact that dads do most, if not all, of their drinking outside of the home. Also, it’s considered more socially acceptable for men to drink, so perhaps it's less striking a memory. 

I drink wine (in the home, no less!). In fact, my three neighbors and I take turns hosting wine night. It's my turn about once a month. We drink more than one glass. OK, three. We laugh loudly. My husband says it's not laughing; it's screeching. He usually leaves when it's my turn. My daughter moves on and off my lap throughout the evening. Between the four of us, we have 14 children. Sometimes, my friends bring their same-age kids, who scurry under the table, tickling feet, then running off with pilfered crackers and pretzels. We pour the kids ginger ale or apple juice in fancy wine glasses and they take them into the living room, where they usually spill them. But on wine night, spills bother nobody. 

We bring each other little hostess gifts. Wine carriers. Wine stoppers. Wine charms. My favorite was when the rowdiest of our little band, Barbara, gave me cocktail napkins that said "Whine night." We briefly considered matching tee shirts but decided that was too 80s. The four of us have built a culture, practically, around wine imbibing in view of our kids.

So now what? I'm dooming my daughter to binge drinking down the road? Will she look back later and surmise I was a drunk—that the whole neighborhood was—and she was just too young to realize it then? 

Wine night is usually the only day in the whole week that is just for me. We've toasted births, potty training, new jobs, graduations from pre-K to high school, and first driver's licenses. We consoled each other over everything from a kid getting THE worst teacher in the whole school, to a husband forgetting a birthday, to a cancer scare, to... first driver's licenses. 

Somebody please tell me I don't really have to give up wine night. 

Do you drink in front of your kids? Leave a comment.