Another Matt-themed question for the week. This one is actually something I feel pretty strongly about.
What is the proper age to begin drinking?
Well, I say 16. Now hear me out. At 16 years old, kids start to think that they’re adults. They start to think that because they can drive, that they can do other adult things–like drink alcohol.
I think they’re right, with some very necessary stipulations:
- The first time kids drink, and really until college, I think kids should drink in the presence of their parents or trusted adults. The purpose of this is to learn their limits, particularly before they go to college and lack supervision. For instance, I knew that three beers made me silly when I was 16 because I’d drink them at family gatherings. I knew that I could handle about 2 mixed drinks, and I hated wine. I learned what it felt like to be tipsy, and what it felt like to be drunk, and because of this, I knew when to stop at college.
- If parents let kids drink, it immediately takes the excitement away from underage drinking. Part of what is so alluring about it is the fact that you’re not supposed to do it. And when your parents give you the go ahead, it loses some of its luster, thus creating less situations where “being a badass” leads to “blacked out and pregnant.”
- We should let kids drink and learn their limits early on, too, because guess what, they’re going to do it one way or another.
- And if we start them at 16, they’ll have approximately two years to try every type of alcohol they can (in front of their parents) and to learn how they respond to all of it. It’s a learning experience.
Alcohol can make anyone dumb, but often that idiocy is brought on by lack of experience and an ignorance of limits. Let kids learn before they head out into the world alone.