Would You Let Your 12-Year-Old Sip A Glass Of Shiraz?

Debate has once again kicked off about whether or not parents should introduce their children to alcohol.

It was sparked after a mother in the UK woman admitted  she gave her 12 and 14 year-old children a gin and tonic.

The woman originally took to parenting blog Mumsnet to ask if others thought her mother-in-law was being "a drama queen" for arguing about her decision to serve her children alcohol.

She wrote: "The drink we made was literally a splash of gin in a large wine glass topped up with tonic water filled with ice and lemon. I would say it was approx 10 percent gin and the rest tonic water/ice/lemon. They didn’t act any differently after drinking 60-70 percent of it.

"MIL (mother-in-law) went on a rant about it and we ended up asking her to leave because she was turning it into a full blown argument."

But instead of jumping to her support, most users were shocked at the woman's decision to serve her children alcohol.

One woman wrote: "12 year old's having G&T, is this a joke?", while another said: " I have to admit I’m judging you for giving your 12 and 14 year old spirits. Sorry, but I think that’s too young for spirits."

The mother did however have a smattering of people who backed her decision, with one writing:  "It is legally fine for a child to drink alcohol at home aged 5+. Allowing small amounts of alcohol, supervised and moderated, takes away the mystery of alcohol and encourages young people to drink responsibly."

When asked if she would let her 12-year-old drink a gin and tonic, Studio 10's very own Sarah Harris was quick to comment with this joke:

While others shared their own tales of being served alcohol at a young age.

Cultural Norm

For some mothers, like Daniela Panico, allowing children to "have a taste" of alcohol was a normal part of her Italian culture growing up.

"My parents did it with me and my grandparents did it with me," she told 10 daily.

"They would just put two drops of wine in our glass of water to make it a little pink -- they would never give us the whole glass. It was more about feeling more involved in the dinner and the conversations we were having as a family."

The mother-of-two said that she believes introducing children to alcohol will help to "take away the mystery" associated with drinking.

"I find that a lot of young people spend their time just waiting to try alcohol," she said. "But we always knew what it was so it was never that exciting for us".

Many European cultures introduce alcohol to their children at an early age. Source: Getty
'Slip 'Em A Scotch'

But not all parents are happy with giving their underage children a taste.

10 daily's senior reporter, Antoinette Lattouf, recalled an event at her sister's 40th birthday party.

"A relative gave my sister's early teen son some scotch at her party without her noticing," she said.

She was absolutely furious when she found out. It started conversation about how early is too early? And is it better to drink in front of your family rather than in a park with some mates?

'No Safe Amount'

According to DrinkWise, there is no 'safe' amount of alcohol to serve anyone under the legal drinking age -- which is 18.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises that children under the age of 15 are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking, and recommending delaying their introduction to alcohol for as long as possible.

According to the organisation, their research shows that just because children are enjoying a tipple with parental supervision doesn't mean they won't turn into binge drinkers later in life.

They also warn that: "Until the early 20s, the brain is growing and forming all the critical parts it needs for learning, memory, planning, thinking, and emotional stability. Drinking alcohol as a teen can disrupt brain development during this critical phase of growth."

Feature Image: Getty