My 10-year-old daughter, Leah, has been asking for sips of my coffee lately. I happen to like dark roasted coffee completely black – no milk or sugar. I figured it’d be much too bitter for her, but she claims to like the taste. While she has yet to ask for her own cup at home, she does like a “treat” of a heavily sugared and flavored coffee drink at Starbucks on a rare occasion.
My mother gut-feeling tells me it’s too soon for her to have coffee regularly. The drinks she’s having now, in my personal opinion, don’t really count as true coffee, but it’s still in there. I think of the caffeine affects, the resulting dehydration, and various scary health reports as reasons to wait. I think I was near college age when I first enjoyed my very white, very sweet coffee; no clue when I decided that I preferred it straight black. I don’t drink too much daily, I don’t think, but enough to go through minor caffeine withdrawals if I don’t have any for a couple of days. I’m not sure I want her to experience this kind of addiction, certainly not at age 10.
So, when is it too young to let your kids drink coffee? My kids will have the occasional Coke or tea, but our general rule is that a brown(ish) beverage is off limits, mainly due to the caffeine. However, I know that both Coke and tea – at least the kind she likes to drink – have probably just as much if not more caffeine than a cuppa joe might contain.
Maybe I’ll try her on decaf, just to see if it’s truly the flavor she enjoys, or if it’s something else. I’m guessing peer image has something to do with it, and in that case decaf might work. This is relatively minor compared with what I know could possibly be on the horizon – introduction to cigarettes, or alcohol or worse.
Coffee isn’t sounding quite so bad now.