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Is It Bad I Taught My Kids Drinking Games?

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On the way to school the other day, my new jam, "Riptide," came on the radio and my usual catch phrase, “I love this song,” popped out of my mouth as subconsciously as an inhale. From the back seat I heard,

“Oh, mom, I wish you had a drink.”

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“Um, what?!?!” I asked, whipping around to the back seat to make sure I heard her correctly (hearing has become a problem these days, you know).

“Mom, remember the other night? You had to drink every time you said, ‘I love this song.’”

Ah, yes. A few days prior we had been at a family-daytime-BBQ-turned-nighttime-party, in which a few of us cousins decided to instill some old school college-drinking-game rules.

Every time I was caught saying, “I love this song,” which was often, I had to take a drink of my beverage. Though the kids were not around the adults when this “rule” was set into place, they certainly witnessed a few instances in which I uttered those four words, followed with a resounding, “Mary, take a drink.”

Somehow it eventually turned into a “social,” which meant everyone took a drink, including kids with their lemonade.

My daughters have been saying, “cheers,” at meal times since they could hold a cup.

At the time, it seemed harmless, but when I heard my 8-year-old say, “Mom, take a drink,” a few days later, in daylight and out of the comfort zone of a family party, it didn’t seem so harmless.

When I gave her a look like, “Say what?” she continued her thought, “You know, like, water or coffee,” which made me feel a bit better about the situation because she didn’t equate the game with alcohol, but it certainly didn’t sit right with me.

My daughters have been saying, “cheers,” at meal times since they could hold a cup (a Dora sippy cup to be exact), and always with eye contact. For us it’s a way to commemorate the time we’re sharing together. Yes, sometimes, I have a wine glass that I use to clank with their plastic Disney cups (depending on whether or not the day ends with a “y”), but it’s not about the act of drinking or alcohol, it’s about sharing time together.

There are many parenting theorists who say parents shouldn’t drink at all in front of their children. I can see the point in that line of thinking, but I don’t necessarily think it’s realistic. Alcohol is something that they will at some point be exposed to, so having them witness responsible drinking, even when it’s got some fun associated with it, is a good thing. But I do want to make sure I’m not going too far with the fun and games.

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I will be having many open conversations with my girls as they get older about the affects of alcohol usage and saying a lot of prayers that they make the right decisions, because their decisions at some are ultimately out of my control.

What about you? Do you drink in front of your kids?

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