Most parents love to brag about their children and, it seems, LeBron James is no exception.
“I got very mature 14- and 11-year-olds,” James told the media after practice earlier this week, per CBS Sports. “My 14- and 11-year-olds drink wine. That’s how mature they are.”
James, who is a wine connoisseur, followed up by saying that his kids drink “whatever Dad and Mom’s having.” He added: “Put it on me, though. Don’t put it on Mom. Put it on Dad, put it on Dad.”
The verdict is still out on whether James was being serious (he later joked that his sons would be “driving next week,” per USA Today), but some people said on Twitter that their parents let them do the same thing. Others pointed out that James’s children are far from the legal drinking age of 21.
Yes, underage drinking is illegal in the U.S., but the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism points out on its website that many states have an exception that says that minors can drink alcohol at home if it’s given to them by their parents. So technically, this isn’t illegal.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) responded to James’s comments on Twitter, pointing out that underage drinking is still dangerous:
We still have a long way to go to educate parents about dangers of underage drinking. Early age drinking is assoc w/dev of alcohol use disorder later in life+alcohol can alter brain dev that continues well into 20s. Many reasons to support 21 drinking age! https://t.co/se0gJ7WHFP
— MADD (@MADDOnline) October 10, 2018
Daniel Ganjian, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., agrees. “The bottom line is that alcohol can be a dangerous poison for children,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When kids drink alcohol, it lowers their blood sugar levels really quickly — an effect you don’t see in adults.” In some cases, children can end up having seizures or wind up in a coma and can even die from drinking, he says.
Alcohol also depresses the central nervous system, including the brain, Ganjian points out. “If a child drinks alcohol over and over again, it can affect their developing brain and hinder it,” he says. “Adults are much more hearty and can handle the effects of alcohol. Kids are much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.”
Drinking at an early age can have lifelong consequences. “People who report starting to drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol at some point in their lives,” Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Experts don’t know exactly how much alcohol is harmful to children, which is one of the reasons why it’s recommended that they don’t drink at all, Ganjian says. “This is true for all kids,” he says. “Even the ones that look like adults.”
The only exception: If children are taking part in a religious ceremony, it’s probably OK if they have “a sip of wine,” but “grape juice is still preferred,” Ganjian says.
He also recommends that parents be mindful of how they act when they drink socially in front of their children. “Don’t make it so grandiose,” he says. “Sometimes it’s best to say, ‘This is not good for kids.’ Kids need to learn not to desire it.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Bartenders are criminally charged after drunk patron allegedly causes fatal car accident
- Egg freezing — how it works and why age matters
- Mom’s ‘best f*** up I have ever done’ green screen mishap results in hilarious school pictures