A leading and highly respected addictions expert, Stanton Peele (2007) has suggested that a guide for raising children to become moderate, not excessive, drinkers can be found by observing the cultural norms of the Italian, Spanish, French, Greek, Jewish, and Chinese cultures. Relative to the United States, these cultures have very low rates of alcoholism. In these cultures, children are socialized into approved, moderate, and social drinking. This means drinking occurs with meals, and during celebrations and religious ceremonies. Furthermore, children are socialized to disapprove of drunkenness.
How well this recipe would translate to other cultures, or to a specific family, would depend on many factors. SAMHSA (2011) reported that adults aged 21 or older who had first used alcohol at age 14 or younger were more than 5 times as likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older (15.1 vs. 2.7 percent). Given these statistics, a family in the United States would need to carefully consider several questions. Can a typical American family environment sufficiently influence children toward moderation, as is done in some European countries or Jewish culture? Is the family's influence powerful enough to supersede the larger cultural acceptance of alcohol misuse and drunkenness? Parents should be sure to check the laws in their own state regarding parents serving alcohol to their own children.
More information about protecting children from alcohol and other drugs is available here.