Don’t try this at home

It’s one of those conundrums of parenting: Should you expose your kids to small amounts of alcohol in a controlled setting while you’re there to chaperone, in the hope they’ll learn appropriate behaviours and see that drinking can be enjoyable without being dangerous or damaging? If they’re going to drink, you might as well make sure they are safe, right? 

Or is it better to keep alcohol away altogether, regardless of the circumstances, until they are of legal age? 

Which approach to take – harm minimisation or zero tolerance – has historically been a matter of parental preference and cultural norms, with the former being much more common in Australia, and the latter more common in the US. 

But now research is providing an evidence base on which parents can make more informed decisions. Two new studies, both published in May in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, suggest that good intentions