Should you offer your teenager a drink at home?

Some parents try to eliminate the ”forbidden fruit” aspect of alcohol by offering their teenager a little wine with their dinner or a glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve. Others allow their children to try alcohol in the hope that the taste will put them off wanting to try it again. But research has shown that children who are given alcohol at home generally drink more. This is why you shouldn’t offer them alcohol at home.


Teenagers are seldom interested in a relaxed, moderate approach to alcohol – they drink, first and foremost, to get drunk. There is no research showing that a teenager who drinks half a glass of wine at home drinks less when they’re with their friends.

There is, however, research showing that teenagers who are offered alcohol at home drink both more, and more often. If you’re allowed to drink at home, it’s like a permission slip to drink when you’re out, too. 

28% of upper secondary school students whose parents think it’s OK for them to drink get drunk every month. 


The law does not prohibit you from offering your own children a small amount of alcohol if it’s done in a controlled manner. But it sends the wrong signals. If you tell teenagers that they shouldn’t drink and that alcohol can be harmful, offering them a glass now and then is simply confusing them.  

"My parents let me have a taste when they’re drinking wine. They don’t really mind. They just laugh and think it’s fun". 

Majken, aged 15, Örebro


Your attitude matters a great deal. 15 per cent of ninth graders and 28 per cent of year 2 upper secondary school students whose parents think it’s OK for them to drink alcohol, get drunk every month.

If you ask teenagers whose parents say no, fewer than five per cent of ninth graders and ten per cent of upper secondary school students get drunk that often.  


Few adults know exactly how much alcohol they have at home – there might be a few bottles of spirits in a cupboard, or some beers in the garage. And some teenagers will take alcohol that’s in the home, without their parents’ knowledge or permission. So it might be a good idea to talk to your teenager about this and about what you expect of them. And if it would ease your mind a little, maybe keep an extra eye on the alcohol you have at home or clear it away completely.


Make sure that all of the adult members of the family take the same approach. It’s very confusing for teenagers if the adults in their family say and do different things. 

Illustration, family in the sofa drinking wine

More to read about the same topic

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

When parents are not around

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