Written By:Amber Hollingsworth,LPC
Okay, let’s put the argument out there, “If you can go to war at age 18 then you should be able to drink a beer.” I have heard this argument many times, and I use to believe it too, but science has made me change my mind on this one.
Many parents honestly think they are doing their kids a favor by teaching them to “drink responsibly.” They will allow their child (and often their children’s friends) to drink alcohol in their home. These parents believe they are controlling the situation by taking keys etc…
If any of you parents out there have been guilty of this in the past, don’t beat yourself up. Teaching kids to drink responsibly is good in theory, but not so good scientifically.
1. The reason the drinking age is 21 years old is because brains are not mature enough to handle the chemical before then. Our frontal lobe (critical thinking part of the brain) isn’t fully developed until we are in our twenties. This means that teenagers lack the impulse control and critical thinking skills to make decisions about alcohol like adults can.
2. You might can control them driving home by taking their keys, but you cannot control how their brains react to the substance. Not only does the child lack good critical thinking skills, but also adolescence is a time of “rocky relationships, insecurities, breakups, anxiety, etc…” These social emotional factors greatly increase a person’s chance of developing an addiction
3. Because of the necessary developmental tasks in adolescence, a teenager’s brain reduces their fear and increases their risk taking behaviors. This is to help the kids transition from the safety of their parents to finding their place in the world, but you gotta remember that their brains have turned down the volume on the warning system!
THE NUMBER 1 PREDICTOR OF ADDICTION IS THE AGE OF ONSET OF DRUG USE!!!!
Translation: the younger they start to use drugs and alcohol, the higher their chance of developing a problem.
When it comes to addiction, age is a more important factor than genetics, parenting style, financial resources, religious background, school environment, etc….
I realize that kids are probably going to experiment either way, but you don’t have to condone the behavior or help facilitate it