A belated Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there in Cyberspace!
I’ve always associated fatherhood with responsibility. During the 1980s, I was the most rare of parents: a single Dad raising a daughter. It was simply instinctive for me to want to protect her.
Perhaps that’s because I was fortunate to have a Dad (and a Mom) who taught my brother and me to act in a responsible manner, and that there were consequences for our actions. My Dad never stopped being an authority figure – he never called me “Buddy” – until I was a grown man.
I tried to set that same kind of example with my daughter. While we had a lot of fun while she was growing up, I never thought of her as a “friend” until she became an adult. Now, she’s my best friend.
As parents, we are responsible for seeing to it that our children become well-behaved, respectful members of society. Part of that involves the responsible use of alcohol.
Personally, my long-time adult beverage of choice is wine. Stronger spirits never did much for me, other than cause me to act stupid. But wine was different because it could be enjoyed with a good meal. My experience was that wine made the food taste better, and food made the wine taste better.
The question was how best to approach the topic of alcohol with my daughter, since she saw me drinking wine with dinner from the time she was a toddler (and could handle a corkscrew by the time she was 7).
Interestingly, she never developed an appreciation for wine. Even now, as she approaches the big 3-oh, she’ll stick her nose in my glass of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and declare, “It smells winey.”
I’m not even sure that’s a word, but it paints an aromatic picture of how she perceives wine.
For centuries, Europeans – particularly Italians and the French – would give their youngsters a small taste of wine (often diluted in water) with the evening meal. It was their way of showing that wine is food, and when treated as such, without over-consumption, it could greatly enhance the dining experience.
I’m not advocating that practice in today’s America. After all, each individual’s alcohol tolerance is different and, besides, a neighbor just might call child protective services if they got wind of it. Technically, it would be an illegal act.
But I firmly believe that alcohol consumption should be a talking point at the dinner table. I also believe it’s positive to have a glass of wine, in front of your children, with your meal.
Responsible wine consumption sets an example for your children to follow. Ignoring the topic completely will result in your kids learning about alcohol from their friends – not exactly the best-case scenario.
So, on this day after Father’s Day, I hope you’ll give this topic some thought. It’s the responsible thing to do.