Sioux Falls, SD
For some, letting their child have a sip of an alcoholic beverage seems like no big deal. But the long-term effects that can occur from letting your child have just a sip are concerning.
In South Dakota, if a minor is with a parent, it is legal for the child to consume alcohol.
"As a parent my first responsibility is to be a role model to my child. If I was to encourage or assist him in engaging in alcohol as a minor, I really don't think that sets him up to succeed," Terry Liggins said.
Liggins, father of three, says he's never allowed his children to sip alcohol.
"Really consider the fact that, what am I role modeling? What am I setting my child up to believe is okay? And ultimately what are the consequences of my actions on my children in this situation?" Liggins said.
Some families include alcohol in their celebrations, but it tends to occur the most during the holidays.
"So around Thanksgiving and Christmas and the holidays, there's a lot of parents that want to offer their children sips of alcohol or small amounts of alcohol," Matt Walz with Keystone Treatment Center said.
But according to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, even a tiny sip can have a big impact.
"There can be ramifications later in life, in their teenage years, with excessive drinking in the legal system, and illegal drug use that can result from some of those early exposure activities," Walz said.
Children who had only sipped alcohol by sixth grade were nearly five times more likely to have a full drink by the time they were in high school.
"What these studies show, is that any amount of alcohol given to children changes their attitude about drinking," Walz said.
Having a parent offer a sip of alcohol, even when it's a special occasion such as a holiday, can make them believe it's ok to drink at any age.
"I think education is really important for parents, parents want to know what's best for their kids and they want tools and education rather than judging and shaming," Walz said.
If you're worried about alcohol abuse in your family, you can find resources here.
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