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I'll let my teen drink at home once in a while

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Why a little booze at home isn't going to hurt my kid

I'm totally fine letting my daughter try my wine or beer from time to time.

Let me be clear, though, that I'm talking about a teenage version of my kid, since she's just 3 years old and tried to feed me goldfish through the phone yesterday. Her palate won't yet appreciate a fine merlot.

Also, I'm not talking about helping her binge drink "jungle juice," letting her host wild parties where she leads other teens into a life of debauchery or toasting with her friends like a proverbial "cool mom." So, please stop clutching your pearls.

What I'm talking about is introducing her to responsible alcohol consumption, since she'll have plenty of exposure to ridiculously irresponsible alcohol use by the time she turns 13. I'm talking about letting her try my favorite Texas beer (Shiner Bock, if you're curious) or red wine, and teaching her how to appreciate both its flavors and its dangers. She'll experience that first lovely tingle of a good beer under my watchful eye, when I can coach her on how to call a cab or avoid the leering boy in the corner if she feels the same way out in public someday. Because, she will.

We do a disservice to our kids when we pretend that normal human experiences and pleasures are verboten. Drinking alcohol is a normal human experience, and it's pleasurable. Why would our children not want to try it? Since my kid will try it anyway, I'd prefer she do so in a context where she can actually learn something about it rather than endangering her life around a bunch of idiot teens with poorly-developed judgment zones.

To those who balk at this plan based on the Centers for Disease Control research that states teen drinking may lead to alcoholism, I call foul. Look closely at the research, and the CDC is clear that teen drinking is a serious public health problem for our teens, but that is primarily because teen drinking is largely synonymous with binge drinking. Yes, binge drinking is horribly dangerous and leads to thousands of teen deaths per year, and sometimes to a lifetime of alcohol abuse. But you know what won't occur in my house with my kid? Binge drinking. That crap happens when teens go to a party, experience peer pressure and don't understand their body's limitations.

More about teens and alcohol

Why you shouldn't get drunk around your kids
Can teenage drinking lead to alcoholism?
Four Loko alcohol investigated by the FDA

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