The consumption of alcohol among large groups of people is often equated with good times, laughter, and social bonding. To see that playing out in real life (wink, wink) all you need do is watch the commercials during any Sunday afternoon football game. But what about families? Can healthy drinking bring families together the same way it does football fans?
In all honesty, the jury is still out on this one. We searched high and low and could find no consensus about family drinking except to say that unhealthy drinking habits tend to run in families. Hopefully, the healthy habits are also passed on.
What would be considered healthy drinking?
To the fitness zealots of the world there may be no such thing as healthy drinking. Especially if the zealots in question are in favor of the paleo diet. If you’ve never heard of the paleo diet, it is one in which you’re allowed to consume anything you can acquire through hunting, fishing, or gathering (although no grains or legumes).
Of course, you’re allowed to combine various ingredients gathered under the paleo scheme, but processing such foods is limited to what would have been done by the cavemen. Since they did not know about fermentation back in the Stone Age, it is out of bounds.
Assuming you’re not a health and fitness zealot, there’s good news: The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) defines healthy drinking as consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation. Unfortunately, the bad news is that the brilliant researchers at UCSF don’t bother to define “moderation.” So, in using their definition, we are no better off than we started.
That leaves us with something known in the old days as common sense. Such common sense would dictate that healthy drinking be defined as consuming adult beverages in a social atmosphere while avoiding drunkenness. If you agree with our definition, bravo! Otherwise, continue reading at your own risk.
Is healthy drinking good for families when combined with other activities?
When alcohol consumption is the only activity in which a group engages, it could be argued there is a real problem. As for families, it makes sense to combine the alcohol with something else in order to avoid those problems. For example, drinking and poverty make a great combination.
It’s been said that tough economic times bring families together because the lack of financial resources forces them to stay at home and spend time with one another. We also know that tough economic times lead to increased alcohol consumption. If left to a simple algebraic equation, it would seem that healthy drinking in the midst of poverty would be beneficial to the family.
According to online food community Culinary.net, the dinner table is also another great way to bring families together. Enjoying one another’s company over a good meal encourages conversation and the sharing of ideas. Throw in a good dose of your favorite beer or wine and it’s likely you’ll produce some very interesting conversations.
Are drinking games healthy for a family?
Back in the Dark Ages, by which we mean the days before cable television and Internet, families used to pass the hours doing things like playing board games at the kitchen table. Family experts today insist board games are still a great way to strengthen family ties. As for drinking games, not so much.
Usually the point of drinking games is to reach a level of intoxication high enough to be considered drunk. When you play drinking games with your college friends you expect one another to do stupid things. But if you do those same stupid things in front of your children and/or parents, your life will never be the same.
At every family gathering in the future you’ll be reminded of the lamp shade and wet pants incident of 2013. They’ll still be talking about it the day they put your cold, stiff body into the ground. Do you really want to live with that kind of humiliation the rest of your life? No, confine the drinking games to just you and your friends.
How else can healthy drinking be used to bring families together?
If you stop and think about it, there are lots of activities that families can do that involve healthy drinking. So use your imagination. For example, the late summer months are a great time to have an in-home wine tasting, complete with fancy cheese and wine bottles with real corks!
Sitting around discussing the finer points of fermented grapes and questionable dairy cultures will allow each family member to contribute his opinions in a setting that encourages both openness and vulnerability. So long as each one feels validated, it can be a great family bonding experience.
Or you could just break open a six pack and play a couple rounds of horseshoes.
The point is that alcohol is just one choice among a banquet of beverages. The family bonding comes through sharing common experiences through mutually enjoyable activities. And even though healthy drinking can be part of those activities, it doesn’t necessarily need to be.