A mother has defended her decision to give her children alcohol at the age of 13, claiming she’s teaching them to drink responsibly.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain on Friday, Shona Sibary, 47, argued that allowing her teenage children to drink is as responsible as helping them learn to drive.
The journalist’s own mother died from alcoholism and she believes her unconventional method will stop her children from following the same path.
However Dr Richard Piper from Alcohol Concern, who appeared on the programme alongside Shona, said the approach could actually have the opposite effect.
Unconventional method: Shona Sibary, 47, a mother of four, allows her children to drink alcohol from the age of 13 so they drink responsibly. She discussed the issue on TV today
Cheers! Her three older children Flo, 18, Annie, 16, Monty, 14, enjoy the privilege of having an alcohol drink on special occasions
Shona, who is mother to Flo, 18, Annie, 16, Monty, 14, and youngest daughter Dolly, seven, says her children will not get to the point where they are so drunk they are ‘vomiting and staggering’ because they will have a healthy relationship with booze.
She said: ‘You wouldn’t get into a car without learning how to drive and what I’m doing for my children is, by giving them small amounts on special occasions, they’re learning how their bodies react to alcohol with food.
‘Therefore they’re in a far better position when they go out with their friends to know what they’re capable of drinking.’
Shona’s mother died of alcoholism in 2015, which has influenced her approach to her children’s drinking.
She says that they know the difference between enjoying a drink and becoming dependent on booze.
Her children said that they enjoy being treated like adults when they have an alcoholic drink
Shona explained: ‘My situation’s slightly different because my mother died of alcoholism two years ago, so my children have seen the abuse of alcohol up close and personal, but that hasn’t changed my approach.
‘Most of us drink to make ourselves feel better in the evening, but people with an alcohol problem drink to stop themselves feeling bad. There is a massive difference and my children know that difference.
Dr Richard Piper from Alcohol Concern (right) says that Shona’s method may have the opposite effect
‘They understand that you can have alcohol with food in a social environment and enjoy it without abusing it.’
Despite Shona’s belief that her method has health benefits for her children, Dr Piper said it could have the opposite effect.
He explained that the younger a person starts drinking the more likely they are to develop alcohol problems later in life.
After her mother died of alcoholism, Shona wanted to teach her children the difference between enjoying a drink and becoming dependent on booze
He said: ‘The important thing to say is we’re not here judging anybody, our role as an organisation is to give advice and information, in particular the information that comes from the chief medical offices, and that is an alcohol free childhood is the best childhood.
‘Some children may be able to cope with a different situations but for the majority of children we’ve looked at that is pretty good advice. If you’re giving children alcohol to teach them you may be leading them to harm.
‘The earlier people start to drink the more likely they are to have drinking problems later in life. That’s evidenced.’