Friday, October 26, 2007

Fine French wine

I don't quite know how or why I formed this opinion, but I decided quite a long time ago that it made sense to help my children learn to drink alcohol. I don't want them to learn their drinking habits from teens partying secretly away from their parents, or when they first move away from home. I don't want alcohol to be a tool in aid of adolescent conniving and rebellion, nor do I want my kids entering adult life without any prior guidance and experience in responsible drinking.

The law where we live (as in virtually all Canadian provinces) states that minors can be served alcohol by their parent or guardian in a private home or residence. I always assumed that sometime during their teenage years we'd be offering our kids occasional drinks. We certainly tolerated toddlers helping themselves of sips of beer in good humour, and we do allow the kids to drink tea, decaf coffee or an occasional cup of the regular coffee. And we've never outright refused to serve the kids wine; they've just never asked. So there's some context to next week's Ethnic Cooking Club event that features French cuisine.

Ethnic Cooking Club is just two families with a whole whack of kids between us, and we get together once every week or two to explore a little of the culture and cuisine of a particular nation or ethnic group. Next week is France. Today I mentioned to the other mom, who is definitely a kindred spirit in most aspects of parenting, that our family was hoping to prepare Crêpes Suzette, with flaming cointreau, which would of course burn off the alcohol, mostly. I wanted to make sure she'd be okay with that. She said that of course she would. She also joked that she was having trouble brainstorming French dishes because every time she envisioned a French meal, she got visions of fine French wine, and the wine kept distracting her from the food.

"Kids drink wine with meals in France," I said. "It would be authentic."

She got a wicked twinkle in her eye. "Would you be okay with that?"

"Sure," I said, returning the twinkle. "I wonder if we could use one of the kids' SelfDesign Learning Allowance accounts to pay for a bottle of nice Merlot?"

I was kidding about using the school money, but neither of us was kidding about the wine. Not a lot of social studies programs for middle schoolers include wine-tasting, I'd wager, but with homeschooling, anything goes. The kids think this is positively a hoot.


  1. I have had a similar philosophy about raising my kids. In New Mexico, most drinking that kids hear about has to do with the abyssmally high rates of drunk driving and teen binging.

    It helps that as Jews, we use wine as a symbol of joy, saying a blessing over a cup of wine to usher in Holy Days. So my kids have been raised to think of wine as something that is used in moderation on special occasions and is always used with food.

    And as they reached Bat and Bar Mitzvah, we set each one a cup of wine on Sabbath and Holy Days, as well as on other special occasions such as birthdays.

    It seems to have worked. My 22 year old college student does not "party" nor does she see alcoholic drinks as something forbidden and she had no need to go out and get drunk to celebrate her coming of age. She'll have a glass of wine or a beer now and then as part of a social event, but she does not overdo it.

    I am hoping the strategy works as well for my son as he grows up.

    And by the way, a good, mildy sweet French white tastes great with Bananas Fitzgerald for lunch! Mmmm, mmmm.

  2. That's really good to hear, Eli! Thanks for sharing. (Now I'm off to Google "bananas fitzgerald".)

  3. My parents were raised outside of North America and had the same attitude towards alcohol for us as you do. I consider it a success and will be doing the same with our kids.

  4. I can't believe you would DO such a thing. I am completely shocked and I am coming out of lurk-dom to tell you so.

    Really... Merlot? How about a nice Burgundy? ; )

  5. Yes, but will you leave them alone in the van?

  6. Karen, aren't you cheeky! ;-) Next time that issue comes up on the TP forum I'll answer "sure, I leave them alone in the van, except if they've been drinking."

    Diane, you win. Burgundy it is. Was. We drank it today.

  7. ROFL I just got a chance to come back to this.

    Would love to see what some of them say to THAT response.

  8. Thanks for the link to this post!


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