Why I take my kids to breweries By Ian Cahill

Remember that scene in Sweet Home Alabama (yes, I’m really kicking off this article with a reference to a romantic comedy)? Remember that classic line, you know…“you brought a baby (beat) to a bar.”

It wasn’t even really a question, more of an observation. A judgy observation.
For some reason I was reflecting on this as we sat in a new brewery in town, our kids quietly watching YouTube on my phone.

It reminded me of this time, before I had kids. My wife and I were at a dinner to celebrate a brewery’s 20th anniversary. One of the head brewers happened to be sitting at my table and we got into a conversation.

He said that in America, we spend so much time teaching kids how to drive, about sex education and personal finances, but we overlook one very important thing. We don’t teach kids how to drink alcohol.

It’s pretty odd to say we should teach kids how to drink, but really, he has a point.

Teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year — that’s more than all illegal drugs combined. Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption.

And it’s not just teenagers that need a lesson in moderation or responsible drinking. I think it needs to start much younger. And no, I’m not suggesting every start handing out shots to third graders. But there are some things you can do.

Don’t hide your drinking from your kids 

When I was growing up, all the liquor in the house was locked in a little cabinet in the living room. My parents did drink around me, but it was never discussed as right or wrong.  Now days, my wife and I take a different approach. We don’t treat our alcohol like we do our medicine. It is something that our kids (4 and 7 year old’s) are free to ask us about. Do we let them taste it? No. But they know the difference between beer and tea and as a result often ask us what we are drinking before they drink from our cups.

We are creating an environment where drinking is okay. We don’t wait until they go to bed or only drink when we are out and have a sitter. That is too much trouble. But a strong foundation on why we can drink in moderation versus them not being able to drink at all, has made all the difference.

Make them feel included

We like to visit local breweries. There has been a boon in recent years and as a result there are so many unique and eclectic spots where we can sit and chill as a family and try new and different types of beer.

It is really important to us that when we decide to visit a brewery and we have the kids with us, that they don’t feel like we are taking them to some boring place where they have to sit quietly in the corner while, “the adults talk”.

And honestly the places we go are starting to realize that too. Most places have a shelf of games, some for adults, some for kids. If they don’t, we make sure we bring our own deck of Uno or Fluxx and enjoy our time with the kids.

We scope out places in advance to make sure they have food or snacks. Some places have soda and juice they can offer the kids. One place we went to even served the girls a flight of sodas in the same glasses as our beer. We don’t let them drink soda too much, but they were thrilled to have a similar tasting experience to us.

Respect yourself 

When we are with our kids, we drink. Do we binge drink or get hammered and drive them around town? Absolutely not. It’s important to be in control. It may not always seem like it, but your kids are watching you all the time and they garner their social queues from you. If you are getting blasted at the bar and driving them home, what do you think they will consider acceptable?

This is true even when you don’t have kids with you. Be responsible and don’t put yourself in a situation that could cause harm to yourself or others.

At the end of the day, use your best judgement, but if you drink and control yourself, it is important to make sure your kids understand how to do the same. Even at a young age, you shouldn’t vilify something that you partake in.

Ian Cahill currently lives in the Midwest, where he makes his home near Kansas City with his beautiful wife and two daughters. He writes self-proclaimed "slice of life" fiction as well as exploring a variety of genres from sci-fi to romance. You can find him enjoying the simple pleasures of life: reading, writing, baseball and libations.  Check Ian out on social media: Twitter: @iancahill, Instagram: @iancahill, and Amazon: www.amazon.com/Ian-Cahill/.


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