LeBron James was telling reporters at a Los Angeles Lakers practice Tuesday how “mature” his two sons, ages 14 and 11, are, when he revealed that he and his wife even share wine with them. James quickly added that the decision to permit his children to consume wine was “on me,” not “on mom.”
The 33-year-old NBA superstar, in his first season with the Lakers, had been asked if he had picked up greater awareness of “pop culture” from his youthful new teammates. “Not really,” James replied, explaining that “same things” to which players on his squad are listening or watching are also enjoyed by his sons.
“So I get it all at home with my 14- and my 11-year-old,” James said. Asked what that said about his children, James replied, “It doesn’t say anything — it’s just the time, that’s all.”
“I’ve got very mature 14- and 11-year-olds,” he continued. “My 14- and 11-year-olds drink wine.”
“Really?” a reporter said. “Yeah, that’s how mature they are,” James said, before joking, “They’ll be driving next week, too.”
Asked if his children preferred “white or red,” James said, “Whatever dad or mom is having.”
“Put it on me, though, don’t put it on mom,” he added. “Put it on dad, put it on dad.”
James and his wife, Savannah, have three children: LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., a 14-year-old who is a highly regarded basketball prospect in his own right; Bryce, 11; and a three-year-old daughter, Zhuri. The four-time NBA MVP has gained some notice in recent years for his burgeoning interest in wine, and in an August social media post (via SB Nation), he showed off six opened bottles in his home that had a combined retail value of more than $3,000.
In some cultures, such as in France, it has been relatively common for parents or other family members to share small quantities of wine with children during meals. A frequent argument in favor of this practice is that it removes a forbidden-fruit aspect of alcohol consumption, helping young people remain more moderate in their intake as they get older.
Researchers from Penn State University and University College London announced in 2017 (via The Guardian) that a study of 10,000 British children born at the turn of the millennium found that, by age 14, half of them said they had tried more than a few sips of alcohol, compared to one in seven three years earlier. However, the study’s lead author said that while “parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use, or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking,” there “is little research to support these ideas.”
The National Health Service of the United Kingdom, where children aged 16 and 17 are permitted to drink beer, wine or cider with a meal when accompanied by an adult, advises parents that if their children are to consume alcohol, they shouldn’t do so until they are at least 15 years old.
Some other recent studies have pointed to social harm to young people, such as predilections for binge drinking, as well as adverse affects on developing brains and other vital organs, from being permitted to imbibe even small quantities of alcohol as adolescents. However, it isn’t always clear whether teenagers who drink to excess would have done so anyway, regardless of the guidance they received from their parents.
For his part, James said earlier this month that he recently gave up wine for two weeks while preparing for his inaugural season with the Lakers. Asked then how he felt about that regimen, he replied, “Made me want wine more.”
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