Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm only a couple months late with this...

But, in my defense, I've never even attended a playdate, so I don't really keep up with the latest playdate controversies.

playdate wine
While browsing the links to pearls of wisdom from other "real moms", I read one that reminded me of something I'd wanted to blog about when I'd first heard the "breaking" story of playdate happy-hours. Rereading the "news" article and then reading through the comments people made, I found myself diligently reading each and every one because I needed to see that the non-judgemental people out-witted and out-numbered those who don't seem to realize that there is no way to be a perfect parent, no way that one choice is the right choice for every family. Several themes of opinions had me torn between gaping-jawed shock and a feeling of pity for misguided philosophies.

A few claimed that parents should never use a mood-altering substance in the presence of their children. This is laughable. The term "mood-altering" can encompass a multitude of substances we all use without much consideration. So, should parents no longer indulge their caffeine cravings except on occasions where children aren't present? Aren't we afraid that children are going to start using caffeine earlier and more frequently, in larger doses, as they continue to witness parents drowning in caffeinated beverages? As often as many people hop themselves up on coffee and energy drinks to stay awake, perhaps a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or even a small cocktail is in order to maintain balance.

The suggestion was made for these mothers to opt for a diet cola over a glass of wine. Yeah, because diet soft drinks are such a healthy alternative. Carbonation is not good for the body, and sugar substitutes are certainly not great for us. At least moderate wine consumption, such as a glass or two per day, has been shown in study after study to have significant health benefits.

Would you let your babysitter have a drink? While this might be a legitimate case to present since during the time you employ that sitter to care for your children, you are basically bestowing to them the same duties of childcare you normally assume, I doubt it even needs to be contemplated in most situations. I think it's fair to say most (I know, not all) babysitters are not above the legal drinking age in this country. I only know of one person that continued babysitting for families past the age of 21, but she had been working for them already and just continued to do so. Still, there is also a valid point in that babysitters shouldn't be allowed to drink because they are "on the job"...

Others comments tried to equate the playdate moms drinking to people drinking on the job. Well, parents are always employed as parents, even if the child is temporarily entrusted to someone else's care. The child that is rushed to the emergency room by an alternate caregiver for a possible broken bone from falling out of a tree is still the responsibility of the parents. Ultimately, the hospital must contact the child's parents because of this inherent, absolute responsibility. So, in this situation, all parents should be required to forever abstain from alcohol since there is never an off-the-clock time for parents...never. But, that is exactly the reason that parenting shouldn't really be viewed as a "job". One of the perks of being able to be a parent without having the outside job is incorporating social gatherings with your "job". For someone to question whether teachers or bus drivers be allowed a drink before starting their job for the day is simply a display of ignorance for the entire discussion of playdate happy-hours. The comparison can only be fairly made when asking if the teachers and bus drivers are allowed to have a drink during a break when connections with their peers are made, specifically if children are also present. You see, it is rare for people in those careers to have the opportunity to have a social gathering in the course of the work day, much less to have an hour-long break period in the middle of the day to socialize with their colleagues. And, as for the theory they may have a drink before their work day begins? Well, if there are teachers and bus drivers getting up at 4 in the morning to socialize with each other before school, I wouldn't begrudge them a mimosa or a bloody mary.

One man asserts that children will emulate even questionable behavior. Questionable as determined by whom? If none of the parents partaking are questioning the behavior as safe and acceptable, then how is it this behavior would be one of those that children would emulate? And, any 14 year-old that comes home drunk from a binge trying to blame it on the influence of seeing their parents enjoying one or two drinks at a neighbor's barbeque, during a playdate, or with a meal will surely learn the meaning of "comparing apples to oranges".

Even though children rank high in priority for parents in almost every scenario, children actually shouldn't be the center of their parents' world forever. Once a child begins to be able to gain independence, usually starting between the ages of 2 and 3, their place as numero uno in the universe should be relinquished. Parents should show that their wants are equally as important and valid (if not more so) than those of the children. The key word there is "wants". Parents will always put the "needs" of their children first, often sacrificing their wants to do so, like not getting your highlights touched up when your kid needs a new pair of shoes, a pair with intact soles and plenty of toe-wiggling room. But, to tsk-tsk a mother who can and does relish some moments of enjoyment that don't directly relate to her children although they are present is a mentality I cannot understand.

The only way I could find a problem with these playdate happy-hours is if the mothers are "needing" the drink to relax and socialize. Relaying a message to your children that alcohol is a necessity for de-stressing or quality companionship is probably not a good idea. In my opinion just choosing non-alcoholic refreshments on some occasions and opting to unwind by reading or exercising or watching a movie some nights will reinforce the responsible drinking image that is able to be demonstrated by parents who imbibe.

None of the points above are the real point, though. I'm not advocating that parents should drink in front of their kids, but I also don't believe that those who do, myself included, should be thought of as less concerned with our children's well-being based solely on this choice. I only hope that those parents who decide not to drink will make their choice known to their children based on their own experiences with alcohol, such as they don't like the way alcohol affects them or because of an alcoholic family member and the theory that alcoholism could have hereditary foundations, without passing judgement about other adults who don't have those same experiences.


Dixie said...

Great post!

I do drink with my kids around, but I don't get "drunk". Just a beer, maybe two, and then I'm done and that is usually when we go out to eat as a family, which doesn't happen very often. If I need a beer to help settle down at the end of a particularly hard day, I do so after the kids are in bed.

But that is what I do.

Who am I to say what other people do around their kids? That is the biggest problem with the whole thing. What might be right for you, may be all wrong for me, but that doesn't make it the wrong thing for you to do. So I have no right to say anything about it. It's none of my business. If I don't agree with something you do, I'll just stay away from you. Problem solved. I don't like people who try to tell me what I should do or how I should do it.

fringes said...

Excellent post. You put a great deal of thought into this. Parents aren't perfect and the "job" is hard enough without telling me I can't use my own judgement when I drink. I also use a little profanity when I think they aren't listening (and they always are) and, boy, those kids are good kids. No matter how hard I try to mess them up with my swearing and drinking.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

dixie - Exactly. Every parent has to make decisions based on their own experiences and principles. To judge another parent for a choice they've made based on why you made a different choice just doesn't make sense to me. I don't know why I was still stunned to read how judgemental many of those comments were considering it happens over so many things, but I was.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

fringes - Thanks for commenting on the thought put into this. I jotted my reactions as I read the comments and then put them into this post last night.

It's things like swearing and drinking that give kids stories to tell and build some character;>

Emily Snipes said...

Excellent points! I agree that each parent/family have to set their own principles. But for those who choose different from another family - it isn't alright to judge.

heather said...

i too have the occasional drink in front of cheeks and she knows that there are adult drinks and drinks for everyone. this is a very rare occurance though. ~maybe~ once every 4 or 5 months. usually i just wait untill she's in bed for the night. i honestly don't see anything wrong with having a couple in front of the kids, as long as you're not getting trashed. i feel that it is a good thing to show your kids how to drink responsibly. not just talk to them about it, but show them. great post woo. you can be proud of this one! :-)

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

emily snipes - Thank you.

heather - I totally agree. Considering I am not opposed to drinks with alcohol, then I want to make sure my children understand that people can drink without getting trashed. I completely understand the reasons some people will not drink alchol, such as if they have a low tolerance or have alcoholic family members, but those are their experiences with alcohol, not mine or another parent's, which is precisely why not every parent will agree, and that is just fine, in my opinion.