Friday, November 1, 2013

When should children drink coffee?



I was surrounded by high school girls ordering soy lattes this morning as I enjoyed a pot of tea at one of the many local coffee shops. My gut feeling is that my children shouldn't be drinking coffee until they've left school.

Peter (11) has now got to the stage where he wants to know why I wasn't happy that he came home from his stepbrother's house wanting to make himself an English Breakfast tea (like he'd been drinking all weekend), and why he can't go for a cappuccino with Allan. My younger stepson, from about 13 onwards, would often do the cappuccino thing with Allan, a ritual that involved coffee and a man to man chat about life.

I suppose it's the caffeine that bothers me, particularly with Peter having ADHD. I know you can get decaf coffee and fruit teas but they just encourage children to progress onto the hard stuff!  I'm the same with coke. When asked why they're not allowed to drink it my usual reply is "I'd rather they smoked!"

I did a bit of internet research and one mum argues that coffee works like Ritalin and her son focuses much better when he starts the day with one. So maybe the caffeine argument isn't going to cut it. There is the fact that the drinks are hot. I have visions of Peter making himself a coffee (John doesn't like to try new food or drinks so he's not a worry) and scalding himself. There's also the cost, those girls this morning must be going through $20 a week. But I guess I just see coffee and tea as grown up drinks, and the time that you drink them as grown up time, and I'm not ready to treat the boys as grown ups just yet.


8 comments:

  1. I don't like or drink coffee at all, but I have been drinking tea with a little milk since I was a primary school boy. However, I can't remember when I exactly started. All I know is that i compulsively dunked and ate about 5 Scotch Fingers and Nice biscuits. They were the bigger problem. For that reason I have never thought of tea as an "adult" beverage, as I would an alcoholic drink. However, I guess it just shows the way different families view things.while brought up within the same Anglo-Celtic culture.

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    1. I used to dunk ginger biscuits. In the days before surreptitious texting the most amusing thing that happened in meetings was seeing someone keep their biscuit in too long and then watch it fall into the cup.

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    2. I'm now thinking I could allow tea or decaf coffee but not adding sugar. That should put them off until they leave school!

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  2. I'm the last person to be offering advice on such matters, I only observe that in all the places I visit in Europe, the boundaries between child and adult are more blurred than in Australia. For example children are not allowed in the bar of an RSL, but almost every cafe that children visit here with their parents also sells alcohol, and of course coffee. Children order soft drinks from the waiter, mimicking the way their parents order a beer. The flip side is that children are expected to behave and know that adults will tell them when they are not.
    Apart from the game of "why can't I?" , would many children really prefer an espresso to a hot chocolate?
    Of course there might be physical or developmental reasons to avoid coffee as well as alcohol.
    (A side note, I was disappointed in the coffee in France, also in Spain,Belgium and the US. I haven't been to Italy for a long time. A visit here would cure anyone of overindulging in coffee.)
    Anyway, as I said, I am no expert..

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    1. I agree. Most restaurants in France don't have a children's menu but they'll serve a half portion of any adult meal - Tonia

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  3. The girls are tea drinkers like us (I don't drink coffee at all - just never developed a taste for it). Half the time we make it and they forget it or just take a few sips and leave the rest. I think it's the feeling of being treated like a grown up that is the best part of it when they're young. But they do have friends who swear they can't get through the morning without a coffee - I'm sure they must be copying what they have heard from their parents. Lisa

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  4. Stick to your guns Tonia:) it's a stimulant and they don't need it.

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    1. I am sure one mother's advice to another mother from her own personal experience is much better than that from a single childless man. However, no guns please! Despite there being American borrowings, guns are one part of American culture from which we don't want to borrow.

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