Let me preface this by saying that although I’m not a parent (yet, hopefully), that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about issues surrounding raising children, especially since just about everything involving raising children eventually affects the society at large.
So last week I read an article entitled:
which of course mentioned Italy as a country in which drinking (especially wine) is introduced to children at an early age, thus removing the mystique of alcohol and making social drinking just that–social–as opposed to binge, defined as five or more drinks in one sitting.
The article talks about the problems of drinking (11 million underage drinkers), and in particular binge drinking (7.2 million) in the United States. For other international readers, the UK and Australia are also experiencing problems, and here‘s information on some other countries as well.
Immediately I thought of a New York Times article from a few months ago:
which resonated throughout the Italian expat blogosphere; Shelley (At Home in Rome), Elizabeth (Cross-Cultural Moments), and Tina (Pecorino e Miele) all wrote about it and got some great comments, so do check them out.
From my personal experience in Italy (although admittedly not in Italian universities), drinking just to get drunk simply isn’t a normal occurrence around here. A glass of wine (or two) with lunch or dinner is quite common, and if someone under the legal drinking age (hey, does Italy even have one?) wants a sip, it’s no big deal.
Some say, though, that even those social norms are changing and that the influence of some other, ahem, different drinking cultures are influencing Italian youth especially. Indeed in the posts and comments discussing the NY Times piece listed above, a common thread is that American study abroad students and other tourists are contributing to the corruption, if you will, of impressionable Italians.
So what do you think? There are great arguments on both sides of this issue discussed here, so I hope you’ll have a look and then come back and tell us:
Does making alcohol a normal part of the meal/family gatherings take away the intrigue that children may feel to sneak a few sips here and there? Could this be a way to fight against the kind of binge drinking that so many teens and those in their early twenties (and beyond!) take part in?
Or does it only encourage underage (and possibly a lifetime of) drinking and even pave the way to alcohol abuse?
If you’d like to share your own experiences as a child, teen, and/or parent regarding alcohol, I’d love to hear those too.
Buon weekend…e salute!