Monday, March 05, 2007

It's Hard Out There for a Parent

I checked out an interesting blog post by a woman named Stephanie Wilder-Taylor who is the author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom.The post was about her appearance on the Today show to talk about moms who have cocktail playdates with other moms and their kids. Women are apparently up in arms about other women who dare (gasp!) to have a glass or two of wine with their friends. The cocktail-drinking women want to be with kids but they dare to have a good time as they do so. Apparently, for parents to have a lick of fun is an anomaly in our kid-centered society today.

I watched the video which is here and found the judgemental attitude of the expert a bit much . The "expert" is described as a psychiatrist who is a professor at Columbia University affiliated Harlem hospital and has four children. She seems a bit preachy in her tone, especially in the video where she acts as if parents drink a glass of beer or wine in front of their kids is somehow modeling irresponsible behavior to the kids that will start them on a lifelong path to alcoholism. I remember my kid coming home once from a Dare program at school and telling me that the class was told by an officer that their parents should not be drinking around them at all, that this was setting an example that drinking was acceptable. It is? I don't think so, unless you are a raging alcoholic and that is not what we are talking about here.

The heroine in our story here, Ms. Wilder-Taylor points out in the show that it is about morality--that people are so judgemental about what parents can do, that parents, especially moms are stressed out. And the worst part? It is women doing it to other women. The breast feeding dilemma, working versus non-working mothers, now women can't have wine with their kids around. Hell, my cardiologist told me to quit being such a tee-totaler and have a glass of wine with dinner for my heart! If a doctor is recommending it for health, what gives these busybodies like the uptight psychiatrist the right to be dissing women who dare to have a little fun and engage in grown-up activities, and that includes the grown-up activity of a glass or two of wine and a good time. Parenting in our society has become so stressful that people no longer want to have kids. My advice? Go back to the martinis and grown-up rituals of yesteryear, when adults acted like adults and kids were kids. With the build-up of the nanny state over the past decades, it seems we are all now being treated as children. But for adults it is even worse, all the responsiblity and none of the rights of being a grown-up. How utterly childish.


Blogger mean aunt said...

I think part of the problem is that we've turned motherhood into a competition. And to score points in this game you have to keep inventing rules.

The young mothers I meet are so stressed out about everything. Convinced that a taste of sugar will lead to obesity or (my personal favorite) ruining their "self-esteem" by remarking that their diaper smells! (wouldn't want that 6 month old to have a negative view of natural elimination!)

I recommend the half-smile and semi-nod technique to those who preach.

10:40 AM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember my young niece coming to our family Christmas party after she'd had the DARE program at school. She announced that we were all alcholics because we had wine with dinner.

11:10 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

I'll drink to that!

11:13 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike said...

In 1973, my parents took the family on vacation, near an apple orchard. At the orchard store, there was a kit to make your own apple wine, using concentrated apple juice. As a 9 year old, I asked my dad to buy the kit because I thought it would be fun (and only $5).

That started my father on making wine, with him eventually resurrecting the grape press his father used 40 years earlier. He continued this hobby about 30 years, when his eyesight failed him (for genetic reason, I might add).

I tell this story because wine, beer and spirits were consumed in my home growing up, and I am not an alcoholic.

The idea that one drink is a moral outrage and damaging to children is insanity. It seems anyone can claim -- legitimately or otherwise -- to be an expert (myself, included) and suddenly have national exposure, telling people 'not to do this' or 'you'd better do that'.

How in the world did we live so long as a people without these busybodies?

11:39 AM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For pete's sake. I can state quite confidently that my mother's occasional highball had nothing to do with my alcoholism. These parents sound so insecure about their own parenting skills that they can only feel good about themselves by making others feel badly. Talk about juvenile!

11:45 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger BabyonBored said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you for being a voice of reason in a climate of child rearing that, I'm afraid, is becoming more and more pedantic and rule oriented. All I want for my daughter is that she grow up to be a curious, empathetic, loving young woman who is able to make decisions for herself. And that she knows that Barney is evil.

But, if you think I've caught slack over the Today Show appearance, you ain't seen nothing until you see our "sisters" attitudes about my only being able to breastfeed for 1 month. People have called me all sorts of names, even called my two-year-old daughter stupid and probably learning disabled. I've had to have Amazon reviews taken down because they went so vitriolic in their personal attack on the author not the book. We live in a strange society. But thanks for being on my side!

11:50 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

DARE is, in general, ineffective and even counterproductive in reducing substance abuse in children. Add in that it is intrusive, and one wonders why school districts persist in paying for it. Probable answer: it looks like doing something, and the police feel that it should work, despite data otherwise.

11:51 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Jeff with one 'f' said...

HL Mencken said two things that seem pertinent here:

Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

When women kiss it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands.

11:53 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Mike said...

All DARE teaches kids are tactics and attitudes that are good for life in an authoritarian state, like "the civic virtue of reporting your parents." It's just an exercise in feel-good morality. Oh, perish the thought that someone who does a little pot or drinks a little alcohol might actually be an amazingly morally upright person in the ways that count like obedience to God, love of their fellow man and woman and things like that. We can't have kids seeing adults drink a little wine or a cocktail.

You know what's damaged me with alcohol? All of the tee-totalers around me when I grew up, making me think that alcohol is some wild-ass dangerous substance that makes heroine look like processed sugar. I practically have an unconscious complex about having more than one drink because of the crap like this woman's ranting about the dangers of alcohol that I had to put up with since I was little.

11:59 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Pinchócrates said...

My own solution to the problem was marrying into a Russian family. It works. My three daughters see me drinking alcohol two or three times a week. Yet they've never seen me make a fool of myself, or driving under the influence. Guess what I'm teaching them is responsible behavior. I also think that the 19 yr drinking age in Ontario is a far better setting than 21 as in the USA. I'd say 17 would be even better, with maybe a pub/bar entrance limit set at 18 or 19.

12:10 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

The people who treat grown-ups like children are probably the same people who treat children like grown-ups. Witness the hysterics who suspend students who draw pictures of guns, or who hold chicken legs and saw "pow!".

12:13 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said TSI.

12:16 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

I've heard that not showing your children how to responsibly consume alcohol is what can often lead to alcoholism. That means setting a bad example or setting no example.

Helen, are women more susceptible to this type of stress than men? I know the role of mother is considered more important by society, but I'd guess a lot of fathers would immediately assess this woman to be a dingbat and change the channel.

12:17 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And the worst part? It is women doing it to other women. "

Jeff, I have some more Mencken for you:

" A misogynist is a man who treats woemn as badly as women do."

tabithruth has put her finger on a big part of the problem. It would be bad enough if it were just ruining the mother's lives, but think of the effect on th kids who have to jump through whatever hoops so that mom won't have to face the wrath of her "friends".

This buisenss about alchohol is just another bout in the culture war that gave us Prohibition, nativists aginst garlicky immigrants with their wine and beer. It has gone so far that supposedly in California all references to alochol in schoolbooks are banned - in a state where alchohol is a major industry!

12:23 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...

Moderation in all things.

But there's a bright-line difference w/ someone smoking pot or advocating it.

Morally upright? Obedience to God? Love of fellow man?

It's illegal. That may be an arcane viewpoint, but choosing which laws to follow based upon personal desire, involving others in lawbreaking (most pot smokers I know are buyers), and choosing perpetual disobedience are inherent immoral actions.

12:24 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

In most European countries, it's common for kids to not only see their parents drinking, but to have a little wine themselves. Indeed, I've seen it argued that Americans tend to indulge in irresponsible behavior with alcohol more than do Europeans precisely because of this early experience.

Wouldn't you think an "expert" would want to look at cross-country comparisons like this?

12:33 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Adjoran said...

D.A.R.E. is still around after multiple studies have demonstrated it does absolutely no good - at best - because it makes schools and police believe they are "doing something" about substance abuse.

A local newspaper writer claimed it was a good program despite the statistical evidence it was not because there was "anecdotal" evidence supporting it. I called him to ask just what he meant.

"The kids seem to like the officer," was all he could muster.

Lord, help us!

12:38 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger TheBrainFromPlanetArous said...

joe baby,

Speeding is also illegal. As are a host of other things. There are degrees of severity in law, and in lawbreaking.

However, those who break the law must be prepared to face the music.

As for

"...the class was told by an officer that their parents should not be drinking around them at all, that this was setting an example that drinking was acceptable." IS acceptable if we're talking about adults drinking responsibly. At other times, it's not advisable and at still others, it's downright dangerous.

But such gray areas don't sit well with D.A.R.E. types and Drug Warriors. They're binary-mode dogmatists.

Booze, porn, (tobacco) pipe smoking, gun ownership... I have all manner of bad habits. I can't tell you how many accusatory stares and frosty remarks I've had to deal with about the "example" I'm setting for my younger relatives.

My answer is always the same: I present the radical notion that there are some things which are ok for grownups but not for kids.

Crazy, eh?

12:39 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my 16-year-old daughter and two of her cousins to France last summer for three weeks. They were all served wine at major meals and I watched to see how they handled it. I also sent photos home to the moms showing each day's activities. One such photo was at a famous Paris restaurant and one mother e-mailed to express concern at the wine glasses in front of the girls. Her daughter was the only one who finished her wine and had some other signs of being a wild kid. The other mother, who expressed only joy at her daughter's experiences, is a child psychologist.

12:40 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"It's illegal. That may be an arcane viewpoint, but choosing which laws to follow based upon personal desire, involving others in lawbreaking (most pot smokers I know are buyers), and choosing perpetual disobedience are inherent immoral actions."

That argument's old, it's tired, it's easily destroyed. By that line of reasoning, mixed race marriages are immoral actions involving breaking the law and involving others and should still be illegal.


12:40 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger BobH said...

When I told my doctor that I usually have a can of beer with dinner, he approved, saying it was good for me. (So much for DARE!) He did, however, point out that most doctors are reluctant to advise their patients to do this, for fear that because many of those patients wouldn't stop at just one.

12:50 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...


Bless you for your sanity and reason in a world gone polar - bipolar, mayhaps.

I think I may have to visit my local bookstore.

12:55 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I occasionally have a beer, a glass of cheap red wine (lambrusco) or a little Jim Beam in the presence of my kids. There is no harm in having a drink or two. And, as Alex points out, there maybe is in not.

Both my parents had a beer or glass of wine almost every day of their lives. Making alcohol super taboo adds a mystery to it that makes kids want to explore. Show them responsible, reasonable drinking and that's what they'll learn.

Kids need a relaxed, calm atmosphere in which to grow. Too much rigidity and tension makes them high-strung and anxious. Kids don't need a perfect environment. They simply need a "good-enough" environment.

If you think about it, the only real perfection that comes from this world is that it is not perfect but provides a series of challenges for us to overcome. A "perfect" environment is probably quite harmful to a child.

Sorry if I wax philosophical but this is what I tell my kids. If you didn't have any hardships to overcome, if you didn't have to work to make good grades or be a good athlete, etc., it wouldn't mean anything.

1:00 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...


Wow. Talk about overreach.

If you don't like a law, change it. I was drawing a difference between parents choosing behavior that was legal but frowned upon in certain circles with behavior that is simply illegal.

And if the thread is about parents being adults and teaching good habits, it starts with respect for the law. A pot smoking parent who lectures a child to never drink and drive is not acting in an adult manner, and is diminishing his own authority.

1:04 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Buckley said...

The best response to this crap:

"Why, Linda! I had no idea you had joined a Baptist church! Good for you."

1:06 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's odd that we aren't allowed to criticize single parenthood without being called obnoxious moral scolds, but it's suppposed to make us scream if a mother has a glass of wine in the presence of her child?

First it was smoking, next it will be consuming junk food.

1:08 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By all means, lets take something as mundane as enjoying a glass of wine and turn it into another "I'm-a-better-mommy-than-you" moment. I am so sick to death of this competitive mothering. I am officially throwing in the towel and will celebrate by toasting myself and my sanity when I get home from work, after I pick up my formula-fed kids from daycare. Somehow they manage to love me, thrive and enjoy themselves despite my obvious failure to parent them "properly", which now means smothering them with all of my attention 24 hours a day 7 days a week, divorcing myself from the adult world by forgoing any adult entertainment, conversation or stimulation,and enrolling them in every conceivable enrichment activity to include, but not limited to, T-ball, soccer, tae kwon do, musical instrument of their choice, foreign language immersion and yoga before they're 4, lest they fall behind. When will the insanity end? To every woman who has ever judged another mom and found her parenting deficient because she's doesn't share your specific values, a pox upon your house. Do what makes you happy and leave the rest of us alone.
-Loving my kids and my job in Virginia

1:14 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Joanne Jacobs said...

When my daughter was a baby, I went out for margaritas once night a month with other moms from the childbirth class. The fathers watched the babies. It was a great mental health move.

One of the mothers was married to a man who was dying of cancer: He survived for his child's first birthday and died a few weeks later. When you see someone coping with a real problem, it reduces the incentive to create problems where they don't exist.

I decided that the greatest gift I could give my daughter was a sane mother, so I made sanity maintenance a priority. I recommend it. These anxious, perfectionist moms are not doing their kids any favors.

1:14 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember one day (a number of years ago) when I was setting out beer for my wife and I to have with dinner and our daughter -- fresh from a DARE class -- said "Please just say 'No' to drugs and alcohol, Daddy." We explained to her that there was absolutely nothing wrong with drinking in a responsible manner (not binge drinking, not getting drunk, not drinking and driving, etc.) and that a glass of wine or beer with a meal was perfectly acceptable.

Like an earlier commenter, I also think the 21 drinking age is ridiculous. I grew up when New York had an 18 drinking age and it was my observation when I started college that New Yorkers were far better able to handle alcohol than students who came from 21 age states and who had difficulty adjusting. I recall one time a group of us were hungry so we stopped in a bar and ordered hamburgers and drank a beer with our burgers and then left to continue whatever it was we were doing. One of the guys -- who was from Massachusetts was amazed that we drank just one beer and left, rather than hammering down as many as we could hold.

We went on a cruise -- three families traveling together -- and we all felt perfectly at ease signing permission for our children in the 18-to-21 range to drink beer or wine on board. They all handled it responsibly. They were all old enough to serve in the military and old enough to vote and to get married, etc., but the puritanical nanny state thinks they are too young to have a glass of wine.

1:15 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take care swimming (publicly) against the super-mom stream in a day care setting. They are truly crazy (I think it’s their own insecurities that causes it) and are not incapable of civil pleasantness to your face -- followed by a quiet call to Health and Human Services. Then you’re assumed guilty, and must prove innocence, and go through hell even if nothing is wrong and no punitive action is taken. Believe me, the investigation itself is a nightmare. The only reason I have the nerve to write this is that my kids are old enough now to talk -- articulate, smart and emotionally solid. And yes, I do drink a glass or two of wine at home. Beware of kooks. Just don’t talk to them.

1:19 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Oh, I forgot this: As the old T-shirt says, "Everybody has to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."

1:20 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The breast feeding dilemma, working versus non-working mothers, now women can't have wine with their kids around."

But, wait. Doctor, weren't you on the flip side of this argument when it came to breast-feeding? Weren't you the one judging some women who choose to breat-feed longer?

1:21 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Kate said...

I didn't allow either of my children to attend DARE. They sat in the principal's office and read books during the sessions. This was about 14 years ago. At the time I regarded DARE as a gross violation of civil liberties of both parents and children and I haven't changed my mind. I doubt if my small protest did anything other than get me labled as a "kook" but that wasn't the point. The point was not supporting something I did not personally believe in that I still believe has no place in the schools. Kate

1:26 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger tom said...

I have four kids.
My wife and I have always drunk wine, beer, cocktails around them.
I've been unhappy with DARE pretty much from the first time I heard about it. They seem to equate alcohol and marijuana (which I don't use, but consider roughly equivalent to alcohol health-wise) with cocaine, crack, and heroin.
I'm fine with my kids getting some science-based education about drugs, but I don't care for the moral baggage that suggests to my kids that I'm bad for having a couple of drinks.
Encouraging parents who drink to try and hide the fact from their kids is even worse, IMHO. When they find out they'll likely be more upset than if it were treated as a normal adult activity - like it has been for thousands of years.

1:37 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an instructor at a large university in Wyoming for 4 years. A significant fraction of the students were from traditional Morman families in Utah.

Some of these kids had never seen alcohol in thier lives. They went from teatotalers to nightly binge drinking in a few weeks.

Those that grew up around beer didn't have nearly the problem that the Morman (Or ex-Morman) kids had. The same was true with sex and pot.

All the young studs wanted ex-Morman girlfriends. They were beautiful, and anxious to explore.

1:40 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That may be an arcane viewpoint, but choosing which laws to follow based upon personal desire, involving others in lawbreaking (most pot smokers I know are buyers), and choosing perpetual disobedience are inherent immoral actions.

Yep, that's why I live my life following the vibrant examples set by our Congressional legislators. That allows me all manner of fun pass-times such as sending explicit emails to juvenile males, driving cars off of bridges and standing by while my non-spouse companion drowns, driving around DC in the middle of night drunk off my ass on the way "to a vote," and the like.

When the nannys start to lead by example, I just might consider following. Fortunately, I don't think I'll be forced into that decision any time soon.

1:46 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger WT said...

A wise man once said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Kids know this. These scolds (and there are plenty around my town) need to get a grip -- kids are kids, adults are adults. There is nothing wrong with maintaining the division -- and teaching kids that drinking responsibly is fine to do.

1:47 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god I should be a total disaster according to this woman...

Having been born in 1968, my mom was told NOT to breast feed by the nurses at the hospital, she also smoked during the whole pregnancy as did my father (second hand eeek) and occasionally drank and I grew up drinking WHOLE milk for three meals a day every day and god forbid even SPANKED.

So I should be a violent, obese, chain smoking, alcoholic with a low IQ correct??

and the truth would be I don't smoke (neither does my sis) barely drink, 1200 SAT's (when they weren't politically correct) and average size and weight.

I must be an exception to the rule, there is no way that could ever have happened. ;p

1:47 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been numerous studies that indicate that a moderate amount of alcohol on a daily basis actually acts to improve one's health and longevity. It is a parent's responsibility to teach their children to handle alcohol responsibly. This is difficult to do if kids are taught away from the home that alcohol is the physical equivalent of heroin and that parents should never drink, particularly at meals. DARE is overreaching here and acting in a way that is counter-productive to its mission. In her high school years, I told my daughter that if she wants to experiment with drink, do it at home where everyone around her has her best interest at heart and she will be properly taken care of. This arrangement worked well. She has taken half of that advice on with her to college and makes sure that when she drinks she is with people she trusts implicitly. This caution has served her very well thusfar.

2:02 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,

The recounting of the DARE officer's instructions to children reminds me that at a recent Judicial Conference, a researcher gave us this advice: "Do you want to reduce drug and alcohol use among children in your community? If so, do one thing. Get rid of your DARE program!"

His research had showed that DARE programs actually INCREASE drug and alcohol use by enhancing children's curiousity about it. Besides which, he pointed out, take a good look at your DARE officer. Very often they were the exactly the kind of wild, out of control kid that they claim to be preventing now. Too often, a DARE officer wanted the assignment because of the hot car he now gets to drive.

2:28 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually the anti-alcoholic beverage attitude is fairly recent in our history. Before clean water supplies became available - not that long ago - the only drinks that were really safe were wines, ales and ciders. I remember reading a British historian who wrote tongue in cheekily that up until the late nineteenth century most of the English populace, man, woman and child were literally in their cups most of the time.

2:32 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly how would children that young even know that their mothers are drinking wine (as opposed to apple or grape juice) or what the significance of alcohol is?

2:42 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

A E Houseman:

"Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man"

2:43 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Judge Les Meade:

I believe it....the Dare program does not work and apparently some kids end up using more marijuana after attending from what I remember of the research. It's just like the anti-gang programs. Schools found that gang activity increased when they had these programs because the gang members generally sat together at the assembly to plan their next get together.


I assume you mean, are women more stressed and therefore more susceptible to listening to stupid expert advice on child rearing etc. than men? Women do tend to have more anxiety than men as a whole and I think there are expectations of how mothers should be in the society--often by other mothers!--and that means they could be more apt to listen. Also, studies have found that women are more susceptible to surrounding stress then men that manifests in anxiety and depression. No wonder so many of us need a drink! Seriously, I am sure there are many of us out there who would change the channel when a "dingbat" came on. Certainly, many of the women on this thread would.


Thanks for writing in! The hate from other mothers who ought to know better is disappointing to say the least. Who cares if a mother can't breast feed until puberty or do all of the things these puritanical mothers say are important? We are all different and what works for one mother does not work for another. Thanks for writing the book and standing up for moms who just want to have some fun.

3:02 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Rob Dejournett said...

It's a slippery slope arguement, for sure. On one hand, it's unAmerican to tell people what they can do in the privacy of their own home (legal activities, that is). On the other hand, i think the teetotallers have a point. As an adult child of an alcoholic, I have to be very careful about my alcohol intake. Yes, I drink, but its very easy for me to become addicted to the alcohol.

Where do we draw the line? I don't think people who are getting drunk in front of their kids are setting good standards (and for some, even 8 oz of wine is enough to get drunk). I think if they show their kids that you can drink and still be in control of the drug and not get addicted (ie have a glass every now and then), its fine and sets a good standard. I'm married but no kids yet; i'll endevour (strenously) to not get drunk in front of my kids; it's not something I'd support).

4:10 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

'A wise man once said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." '

That man was Benjamin Franklin.

4:29 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

For crying out loud! This is one of (the few!) reasons I'm happy to be living in France: my children (7 and 10) see me drinking wine with meals all the time. Heck, our 10 year old is the master bottle opener! He is allowed a small drop of champagne when it's being consumed. This is a far saner method to teach responsible consumption (like drinking a moderate amount in company at dinner) than the Carrie A. Nation variety. To me, the 21-year-old drinking age is the best way to encourage binge drinking. Elisabeth Dole deserves to be horse-whipped for her role in making that happen...

4:32 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Rob Dejournett,

You bring up some good points. Alcoholism is different from responsible moderate social drinking--to conflate one with the other is to say that a slight smack on the hand is child abuse. Our society loves to see things in black and white. How ridiculously simplistic.

Where do you draw the line? As an adult, it is your job to know that. Can't drink due to addiction? Don't start. You can have one glass or two and feel fine? Most of us can, so do so. Being a grown-up means understanding where that line is for yourself and not crossing it. This, in the end is the way kids learn to deal with the realities of life.

4:34 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

This reminds me of the spanking discussion. There seems to be an increasing "Zero Tolerance" mindset, where people want to see things in black-and-white: they equate one drink to alcoholism, or spanking to abuse--and refuse to make any distinction.

There's a significant portion of the population who want to ignore the real problems we face and prefer to focus on finger-wagging stuff like this. That's why so much "news" today is stupid stories like this, designed to work up a bunch of outrage in people who need to just mind their own business.

With that said, I get tired of the "motherhood is so STRESSFUL!" line. It's certainly not all daisies and buttercups, and I sympathize with the woman who joked about selling her son on ebay (I'm the mother of a toddler)--but too many women want to be martyrs, whether they are stay-at-home moms or working moms. Motherhood involves more choices and options today than ever. Make your choice and live with the consequences. There are good and bad ones either way.

4:40 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

There's a lovely book of tongue-in-cheek (but helpful and sane) childrearing advice titled winningly "The Three-Martini Playdate". I hasten to point out that the martinis are for the adults supervising the playdate.

I do find myself occasionally annoyed at the people who cannot distinguish between alcohol _use_ and alcohol _abuse_, as if there were no other possible motivation for consuming beverage alcohol other than the desire to become intoxicated.

Having children to raise has cut down on my alcohol intake, but not as drastically as my intake of another, even more popular intoxicant - television. I'm not too embarassed for them to see me take a glass of wine with dinner - or even a finger of bourbon afterwards - but for them to see me staring numbly at network TV for two or three hours would fill me with shame and remorse.

4:41 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger submandave said...

I was at a local ice cream shop with my four-year-old looking at the flavors. I pointed to the coffee flavored ice cream and asked her what flavor she tought it might be.
"Chocolate?" she guessed.
"No," I replied, "it is brown, but it's something Daddy likes to drink."
Her logical second guess was "Beer?"

4:58 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The oldest written recipe known is for beer.

The world's oldest known recipe is for beer and some anthropologists believe that the beverage was probably a dietary staple before bread.

That should be worth something.

I've always found it funny that fundamentalists consider drinking wine, etc. sinful. The Bible is full of instances of wine consumption. The response I always hear is that "wine back then was like grape juice." Absolutely, wrong. The Bible does frown on drunkeness but not drinking.

Numerous studies have shown that moderate alcohol comsumption inmproves ones health and longevity.

It seems that some are eternally looking for some way to feel superior to others and preach this to all.

5:07 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandmother always said that beer was the home remedy for a mother who had trouble lactacting. Since themn I hear that hps are full of estrogens of some type, and that may explain it. The point is thta all this puritanism against moderate alchol consumption has nothing to do with good parenting and more to do with the simple will to push other people around.

Dadvocate raises a good point. This is just one more way that Fundamemtalisms resembles Islam more closely than Christianity.

5:36 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow, the fragile and hysterical have become enfranchised. They are treated as if they have something to teach instead of fragile people who need treatment, or a hug, or a punch in the nose.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will really hurt me" was writen by someone with insufficient ego strength. That poster was on the wall of my daughter's after care.

MADD is working for an alcohol free world. They are treated like a responsibile advocacy group when they are likely people with complicated bereavement.

In Tennessee, this is how an alcohol related traffic fatility is calculated. If ANY person in either vehicle has ANY alcohol in their system, it is classified as an alcohol related death. So it a passenger has had a single drink and the car skids in ice and there is a fatality, it is alcohol related.

In America, teenagers learn to drink from binge drinking teenagers. How is that supposed to have a positive outcome. Every three months my 12 year old daughter has a sip of wine. She winces, or at least pretends to wince. Some day she will not wince, and we will begin to teach her how to imbide responsibly. She has never seen me or my wife drunk, we don't get drunk! She has seen us ask the other to drive the car, say we do not feel like a drink, or enjoy a drink. Sometimes even two. She lives with people who have occasional alcohol, and she is the better for it.

Finally, just because someone is loud and hysterical does not mean they have anything rational or worthwhile to say. In fact, we should assume the opposite. We have to disenfranchise the offended and get the normative population to stand up and shut down the nonsense.


5:41 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moderation is the key. My grandfather died because of lack of moderation, but I didn't know it until I was in my 40s. I had been told that he died of a lung problem. In my family, drinking was not normally allowed--Church of Christ and Southern Baptist influence. My grandfather allowed himself to drink only on Christmas. One Christmas, in the mid-1940s, before I was born, he drank himself to sleep and was left to sleep it off in an unheated bedroom. He came down with pneumonia and died from it. According to everything I know, he was a good man who helped raise seven children. Two of them were USMC vets and one an Army Air Corps tail gunner, two became lawyers, one a judge and one a state senator. The girls became upstanding women and mothers. I’m sorry I never got to know my grandfather. If the family had had a more moderate relationship to drinking, perhaps I would have.

6:04 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Madder said...

Slightly off topic, but...

I don't know that European teenagers necessarily handle alcohol better than their American peers. Some recent studies are showing that binge drinking among college-aged students is on the on the rise throughout the continent:

(WHO declaration on alcohol and young people):

From my own personal experience as a college student in France, I noted that quite a lot of department meet and greets/dances/mixers had a variety of hard-liquor beverages (vodka and orange soda or whiskey, mainly) in addition to beer and wine. These events were not without their sloppy drunks, either. I also remember not liking going into town on weekend nights, as there was always the possibility that one would be aggressed by drunk teenaged guys.

A friend who is a teacher in a classe preparatoire (priming students for the grandes ecoles) notes that, whereas when he was in school in the 70s, students got drunk, though perhaps less often, as they were drinking weaker stuff.

Nowadays, students seem to be drinking more and stronger things. He wonders if it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that, among other things, liquor companies often sponsor student parties on campus (the drinking age is younger in France than in the US, so they can do that sort of thing). This is getting to be a serious problem, and there have been calls to ban these sorts of parties from university campuses.

No real insights here except that it seems that there are problems with this on both sides of the pond, though for different reasons: an excess of puritanism over here perhaps and too much liberty for kids who aren't mature enough to handle it over there (and, from what I've heard, the 'bobos' -french for yuppies- do that over-protective parenting thing just like their American counterparts do).

6:48 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother and father both drank. My mother was told to drink beer when she was pregnant since it was good for producing milk. My family is German in origin and a tee-toteler was unknown. Until me.

I don't drink. I have nothing against it, but I hate the taste and I hate to be around drunk people. I don't mind civilized drinking and will gladly go to a cocktail party. But I won't drink since I think all liquor tastes terrible, and when people begin to act like asses, I leave.

7:22 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to make your kids not drink, do what my Dad did: Get trashed every other weekend or so and--don't be abusive--but make a complete ass of yourself and have Mom bitch at you in front of the kids for getting so wasted. After kidhood, I spent four years at the booziest college in the South and I never touched the stuff. Now, that's good mothering!

7:49 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was about ten, I started to help out around my parents cocktail parties. I would go to each person sitting around the den and ask them what they wanted to drink. If I didn't know how to mix it, I would ask them to tell me what goes into it and I would make it for them. I got to remembering everybody's drinks after a few of these parties.

My Mom would tell me which persons drinks to make a little stronger since they'd become the life of the party.

In high school, I never drank at all. In college, I had a typical experience with parties and beer. To this day, I've never had a problem with alcohol.

I should take Helen's doctor's advice and drink more. I have about 2-3 drinks a month on average. I do like red wine and should make it a daily habit.

I thought that the sure fire way to get kids to want to do something is to tell them that it's bad and they should stay away. Keep it a mystery and they'll want to clandestinely try it to find out why you want to keep them away from it. Hmmm.

7:54 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Jim Oglethorpe said...

I saw this and it enraged me. Just like the breastfeeding police! You are considered "selfish" if you choose not to breastfeed (well, they will let you off the hook if you can't produce enough milk--but not if you simply choose not to for your own reasons). Every woman ASSUMES that every other woman breastfeeds. The last person who gave me the evil eye about it has a kid practically allergic to everyting but his own breath. So much for THAT argument. I didn't breastfeed. Not because I worked (I'm home), not because I couldn't (I could) but because I DIDN'T WANT TO. So sue me. For shame on these people. There was a day when breastfeeding was NOT done and women had a cocktail ever now and then with the kids banished to the basement. Now we are all supposed to behave in a way that the "experts" want us to. Read "Spin Sisters" by Myra Blythe (If you can find the book--it was blackballed by the media because it dishes so much dirt on the likes of Rosie and Barbara and Katie). This is all the media hard at work making women think there is only one right way to do things--THEIR WAY. Ugh. I am so mad I'm going to have a drink. Mary (via my husband's account--who was kind enough to show me this article)

8:13 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Away From The Brink said...

I remember reading this once, and clipped it; sorry, I do not remember where I got it from:

""When I was a young mom, trying vainly to maintain an immaculate home and raise little children, my neighbor — the mother of a friend my age — told me a story:

"One day, when my friend was 3 years old, he had just come inside from playing. She chastised him for getting dirt on her newly scrubbed floor. He sullenly responded: 'Mommies in clean houses are always mad.'"

9:00 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

joe baby -- sorry if it came out harshly. I just created a scenario that matched your statement.

"If you don't like a law, change it. I was drawing a difference between parents choosing behavior that was legal but frowned upon in certain circles with behavior that is simply illegal."
Yes. Like mixed marriages a while back. You would have proposed those couples wait for the law to change? I was pointing out that laws are not sacred or necessarily right, just or correct and following them indiscriminately is not really a valid indicator of good moral behavior.

"A pot smoking parent who lectures a child to never drink and drive is not acting in an adult manner, and is diminishing his own authority."
Only if toking during the lecture.

10:02 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger LissaKay said...

My kids were still little when Hillary made her famous pronouncement that it takes a village to raise a child. I recall saying BS! It takes a village to support the parents who are raising the child!

I was fortunate to have fallen in with a wonderful bunch of families, via childbirth classes, LLL, the preschool and mommy's day out programs ... I had a village - support, love, encouragement, camaraderie - that saw me through the early years of parenting. The way these families chose to parent their own children varied, but one thing was common throughout - we were non-judgmental and supported each other's parenting choices because we all believed that we each knew what was best for our own children. "Believe in yourself, you know what is best for your child" was heard over and over.

My how times have changed ... my kids are now late teens/early 20s. I hope things are better for them when they start their families. Parenting is tough ... why would we want to make it tougher for each other? I don't get it ...

11:25 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...


No problema re: harshness.

Agreed that a law isn't just simply by its existence, but I was responding to the notion that a scold against parental alcohol consumption is as despicable as a scold against smoking pot.

It's an absurd proposition. It's like saying adult drinking is ok, and therefore so is adult drunk driving.

I still think the overall proposition has merit. Following the law teaches our children that there are certain actions we forego for the good of ourselves and society...and it also says that those actions which are legal are within the domain of the individual to decide.

11:43 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger rasqual said...

A similar thing with guns. I'm a farm kid raising my own, now, in the city. I'm surrounded by "urban yokels" whose ignorance about guns is staggering. Parents and kids alike subscribe to media-driven (cinema and tv, I suppose) myths about firearms, and this engenders both fight (attraction and aggression) and flight (fear and panic) responses. The firearm is seen only as an extension of power among those who, in an urban setting rife with social challenges, feel disempowered.

Where I come from, if an old gal spotted 5 kids dashing out of a house with shotguns on a weekday morning in October, her first thought would probably be that they're playing hookie to go hunting. Where I live now, if a kid dashes around the neighborhood with a plastic gun, someone's tempted to call in the state to take the kid away from the parents.

Moderation in all things. When visiting my home state, I'd take the kids out shooting. They'd graduate from one gun to the next. When my youngest son had his "first blood" (a gopher), I had a long talk with him about the choice to kill, and how gratuitous killing is an evil. I wanted him to FEEL that he had killed -- and that it wasn't a thrilling feeling at all.

My kids pretty much lack an inordinate fascination with weaponry, now. They understand the things the way an aspiring craftsman (or a lazy homeowner who hires one) might understand a screwdriver. It'd be ludicrous for a carpenter to go on a rampage through a neighborhood, unscrewing fasteners from people's cars, homes and such. It's just as ludicrous for anyone to run around with an attitude that pulling a gun in anger is normal. But that prevalent attitude in the city is the price we pay for making guns as off-limits as some people do wine, of making them a mystery for Hollywood to explain in the vacuum of our own politically correct, urbanly naive fears.

12:45 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

About a year ago The Motts on CFRB (Canada's largest radio station) had on some "expert" on speaking about how to feed babies. She was going on and on about all the current garbage.

Anway, I called in to make two points and was roundly shouted down.

A) When my youngest was 4 months old I had gotten completely fed up with his inability to hold milk down: I'd tried all the solutions I could think of and got no where, he simply was not gaining weight. So, I put him on baby food and table food run through the blender. I remember talking to Carol Mott about it while she had her radio program in Niagara Falls (before she married Paul I think....) Anyway, she freaked back then, but what I did worked. That baby is now a very healthy cop who had a childhood free of illness.

B) Men who raise babies from infancy do not usually have access to mother's milk. Yet, the success rate and health rate for purely father raised kids is slightly BETTER than for mother raised kids. Please explain ... They told me I am wrong, but I know I am right, having had a lot of experience with lone father families.

At any rate both Carol Mott and their expert freaked on my head when I talked with them.

Some people are ... well, they want to preach their point without regard to the evidence or common sense.

4:13 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

BTW: I know that what I did above in (B) is not a fair comparison.

The groups lone fathers with babies and lone mothers with babies are not directly comparable as the mothers include a significant sized sub-group which is not like the rest of the women.

It's like comparing a bowl of 15 Golden Delicious Apples to a bowl of 9 Golden Delicious Apples, 1 Macintosh Apple and 5 Oranges.

HMPH! Yet, I think it was instructive to their "expert."

4:37 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Michele said...

Once a week or so we sit down with our kids, I with my nightly glass of wine, my husband with the remote control and watch one of those reality cop shows (first 48, Forensic files etc.) We have the kids guess what led up to the crime. Of course we turn it off if we think it's rape, or too graphic, or scary. And we ask them, "What do you think led up to the crime? How much of this would have happened if they weren't messed up on drugs?" It works a lot better than DARE. Of course mine are homeschooled.

My mother had a drink every night, while I was growing up. She still does. (Her doctors laugh when she asks if it's a problem.) I was always allowed a glass of wine for toasts at Thanksgiving. At about 15, I would actually drink the whole glass. I never purchased alcohol in a restaraunt until I was 21, and I thought binge drinkers were ridiculous.

My mother and I would have our best conversations while she was having a gin and tonic and making dinner. I look forward to seeing her this week, enjoying her dinner and conversation over a little glass of wine.

6:00 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Webutante said...

Helen, I couldn't agree with you more on this. The political correctness of the day from the so-called "experts" would have us child proof everything in our lives for the "benefit" of children. It's ridiculous and a monumental bore in my opinion.

Let's have a glass of wine one of these days--we can meet on I-40!

8:01 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger gemma said...

Funny, my parents never drank and years ago when my brother over indulged at some event my mother was told that it was all her fault since she never drank and therefore didn't teach him to drink properly.

Goes to show can please some of the people some of the time etc.etc.etc.

8:51 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Sounds great, email me whenever you are in the area.

8:55 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Joe Baby:

"Agreed that a law isn't just simply by its existence, but I was responding to the notion that a scold against parental alcohol consumption is as despicable as a scold against smoking pot."

It is. Neither, in and of themselves, is a harmful activity.

"It's an absurd proposition. It's like saying adult drinking is ok, and therefore so is adult drunk driving."

Not at all. You equate simply having a toke to driving drunk why? Because they are both illegal?

"I still think the overall proposition has merit. Following the law teaches our children that there are certain actions we forego for the good of ourselves and society...and it also says that those actions which are legal are within the domain of the individual to decide."

You mean like the prohibition on alcohol that worked so well?


Bad laws are to be fought, pointed out, and yes, ignored if found. Yes indeed, it is up to the populace to determine those bad laws. You know, like prohibitions against alcohol, having sex in the wrong positions or with the wrong people, wearing clothing that exposes the ankles, uttering certain words in public... The list of antiquated concepts that either were or are laws is enormous.

Do you think people ignoring prohibition was immoral?

9:46 AM, March 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a glass of wine with dinner every evening with my children. The key is I am with my children every evening at dinner, whenever possible. My children understand responsibility and enjoy our family time together. I just wish their was a manual on how to deal with step-children between the ages of 18-21. That one glass has turned into 2 on occasion.

9:51 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...


Did you read the comment I was replying to?

To sum: one can be "amazingly" morally upright, obedient to God and love their fellow man while still having an occasional drink OR smoking some pot.

Absolutely not, for reasons stated above. To think so confuses our inherent liberties with some purported right to break the law.

No, the Nazi enabling laws were not just, but we are far from that. Mike Tyson is not Sir Thomas More, and controlled substance laws are not mixed marriage laws.

Also, rather dangerous to equate unjust laws with those that people simply choose to defy. Part of a civil state is punishing those who defy the law, lest the civil state become a name only.

And I'll expand your last question: do you think people ignoring any law is immoral?

We've all agreed that observers who deplore a parent having an occasional drink are treading on ground that is not theirs to tread upon. But to also say that parents can include law breaking within that zone of action and avoid derision -- well, no.

It also squarely conflicts with the idea that the parent's behavior is not harming the child. Breaking laws and encouraging a child to do so harms the child's future prospects.

11:11 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Webutante said...

Will do.

Right now getting ready to go to Israel. But spring's not far away!

1:33 PM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Sorry, bad law is bad law. I taught my daughter to examine the laws for herself and decide which are good and which are bad. You can't change that which you don't recognize.

Don't mean you whine about consequences either.

1:44 PM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...

Assuming bad law, the responsible citizen works to change it, not simply ignore it.

And there's a difference between breaking the law and civil disobedience. The former generally wants to break the law and escape punishment, the latter to suffer the punishment to prove how unjust the law is.

As a society, we cannot allow people to break the law without punishment, nor can we allow people to choose for themselves which laws should be ignored.

And the good law/bad law determination by an individual can only stand in a society where people follow laws they do not like.

If a society determined its laws solely based upon the collective desires of the people at any moment, tyranny will quickly follow. Slavery and mixed marriage laws are a direct product of majority temperaments.

It is a poverty when a parent ignores laws or teaches a child to ignore/break laws. Teaching a child to break laws does not increase liberty -- to the contrary, it increases the chances that liberty will be decreased even further, and it deprives the child of utilizing the essential liberties we already have (Amendments I-X, for instance).

3:16 PM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

I'll say it again -- prohibition. Millions broke the law, and I'll be damned if anyone was wrong other than the law makers.

Law is not sacrosanct.

"Slavery and mixed marriage laws..."

Yes indeed, laws. People broke them. Those people aren't seen as immoral, the law makers are.

Teaching a child to obey bad laws decreases the child's liberty now.

You have your opinions and I have mine. And, they are opinion, not fact.

8:20 PM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Joe Giles said...

Liberty isn't the ability to avoid the law as the individual sees fit -- it's creating the condition whereby an individual can exercise rights without being prohibited by authority.

Authority being a key word. I keep going back to children, since the post is about parents raising children. And a child's liberty interest, whether by law or fact, is quite limited.

I don't really care which laws someone likes or dislikes -- but teaching a child to simply break or ignore a law, instead of submitting to authority while working to change an unjust law, produces a disrespect for authority.

And should we judge a law just or unjust simply on the number of people who break that law? Seems like dangerous precedent. By that logic, get rid of all traffic laws and figure out a new way to fund the government.

It's easy to picture some congressional SOB as the bad guy, but the parent is the first line of authority. Teaching a child to simply ignore the rules in life they don't like (without petitioning the "government," so to speak) decreases the parent's own authority.

And that authority -- the ability of the parent to teach/restrict/decide/persuade -- is the entire point of this blog entry.

Unless the entire point was about adults drinking whenever they want.

Appreciate the dialogue.

11:19 PM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"I don't really care which laws someone likes or dislikes -- but teaching a child to simply break or ignore a law, instead of submitting to authority while working to change an unjust law, produces a disrespect for authority."

No, it does not, as the civil rights demonstrators proved so well. They respected authority and hoped fervently that their breaking of the law would shine a light on the bad laws.

"Teaching a child to simply ignore the rules in life they don't like (without petitioning the "government," so to speak) decreases the parent's own authority."

That's your opinion. I do not believe it to be true. I also never advocated not petitioning for change.

"And should we judge a law just or unjust..."

Um, I'm the one advocating we judge laws, not simply follow them. It's done on what the individual perceives to be correct. Consequences will result.

8:39 AM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger starviego said...

Hi, Oligonicella

Are you the poster 'Oligonicella' who posted at this thread

about "Crazy Mary" and an incident at Wyandotte High back in 1965?

If so, I would like to ask you a couple of questions about that, as I am a school violence researcher, and that is an incident I was not aware of. Email me please at


2:47 AM, March 19, 2007  
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7:25 AM, May 15, 2009  

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