Monday, 20 February 2017

Children of Alcoholics

Last week was National Children of Alcoholics Week.

According to a parliamentary group there are 2.5 million children of alcoholics living in the UK and one in five children under eighteen are exposed to a family alcohol problem.

The National Association for the Children of Alcoholics (NACA) have a helpline which received 32,000 phone calls and e-mails last year, some from children as young as five.

One of the services they provide is reading bedtime stories for kids whose parents are too drunk to do it themselves. Some children call so regularly that the staff keep their favourite books by the phone.

To read more click here for a harrowing article sent to me ( by Catherine. Thank you Catherine!

It's really easy to read articles like this one and to think that's not me. I never neglected my children. But I know that, even though I always read bedtime stories to my kids, there were many ways in which my drinking affected them and that, had I not quit, it would only have got worse.

What about all those times when you skipped a few pages so that you could get to 'me time'? All those little signals that let your kids know that you are not really enjoying this. You'd really rather be somewhere else.

I was constantly engineering family and social events in a way which would separate the kids from the adults, thinking that everyone would have more 'fun' that way.

Even when I was with my children, my head was often elsewhere.

Here's a post I wrote six months after I quit drinking about how quitting booze changed the sort of parent I am. Click here.

The ramifications of being a boozy parent are deep and long reaching. In 1983 Dr Janet Woititz published a bestseller titled Adult Children of Alcoholics in which she outlined thirteen characteristics that these children tend to share.

These include: fear of losing control, fear of emotions and feelings, conflict avoidance, harsh self-criticism and low self-esteem and difficulties with intimacy.

It's no wonder that the children of alcoholics are four times more likely than average to become addicts (and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder) themselves.

So quitting booze isn't just the best thing you could do for yourself, it's the best thing you could do for your kids too....

By the way, if you live near Birmingham and would like to meet up with some other fabulous sober people then lovely reader Tori has set up Club Sober.

The first meeting is on Thursday March 2nd at 6.30pm and is free (all funded by Tori).

To find out more, and to connect with Tori, go to her blog by clicking here. And please let me know how it goes so that I can post an update on my blog.

Love SM x


  1. How true SM. I had a similar thought recently. #2 son wanted to make pierogi, he had seen one of his favourite youtubers talk about them. We looked up a recipe and spent a couple of hours making them. The kitchen looked like an explosion in a flour mill but we had chat, he put on some of his favourite music, we danced round the kitchen and laughed together. There is no way on earth I would have done something like this if I was still drinking. I'd have made some excuse and promised to do it another day.

    While I don't think my children were seriously harmed by my drinking (you know school on time, homework done, tidy house, clean clothes, healthy food etc) the lack of "presence" is something I am hoping to be able to rectify.

  2. This is one of the things that sends me into a deep shame spiral. I was pretty much on top of everything and coping until the last year of my drinking just went from manageable to chaotic and out of control. I have read stories to my children and put them in bed and the next mrning not remebered any of it. This was the last 3 months of my drinking. I will probably never forgive myself but I can at least say that I am doing something about it and hopefully the damage I did can be mended.

    1. Don't be ashamed - be proud that you're where you are now! Awesome mama :-) xxx

    2. HfC- I hear ya. I know I went through the actions, but there were definitely mornings where I couldnt remember which book I read or pajamas I put them in. Im still struggling to enjoy the long tedious night time process, but I think its partly because I am so tired by 7 I just want my own bed, but every night is special and I am trying to enjoy them while they last.

  3. My boy was initially the main reason for stopping. I knew he felt my lack of presence and commented that I was always angry and what had he done. I was mortified and ashamed. I'm just over 2 years & tonight he said let's put on old cd on & sign along. We danced around & sang playschool songs really loud. It was so much fun before I would have been rushing him off to bed. We now have these spontaneous times alot. It's fab to be present.

    1. Awesome comment. Aren't the simplest things the best? ❤

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thank you for posting this SM. It made me cry because it made me sad for what is bound to be if I don't put down the drink.
    Day 1. Again.

    1. Good on you Wellyboots for having another day 1. Its not how many day 1s you have, its that one day it will be your last day 1. Hugs and support.

    2. Hi Wellyboots - Good on you for making a start and it doesn't matter if it is again. I found the trick is to keep talking :) xx
      Right behind ya Michelle xx

    3. Don't be sad, wellyboots! Be happy because this is the first day of the rest of your life and it's going to be great! We're with you xxx

  6. Interesting, I look back at my last few years and while I was there in lots of ways for my kids, I would zone out or stay longer at dinner parties to keep drinking when they wanted to go home. I hated need a nap in the afternoon because I was hungover, lying saying I wasn't feeling well as well as modelling drinking all time. My son asked if I felt pressure to drink wine when friends are over now that I am not drinking. He is only 11. Makes you realize that they see more than you realize.

  7. This post makes me feel sad :-(

    My eldest daughter is 10 and she was definitely becoming more aware of how I was after a few wines, she once said I didn't tuck her into bed the same at the weekends (because I would want to get back to my drinking!) as I did in the week, and I felt so so bad!

    One of my lowest points before giving up was me having a glass of red with Sunday lunch before we went to watch finding dory at the cinema! Just to make my hangover go away. My drinking was only going one way and that wasn't good!

    But Day 93 for me today and I've got to take pride in that and let any guilt go, because that's the old me. And that person is never coming back!

    Thanks for a sad but fab post SM xxxxxx

  8. 93 days is amazing Ang75 and you're right you've got to let the guilt go and try to feel gratitude instead for where we are ,and all that we have now! x

  9. If you live in the U.K, the NACA helpline & is a topic being discussed on ITV's This Morning today. xx

  10. Wonderful post. I heard the stats being read on Radio 1 last week and had to pull over and cry. The part about the hotline reading the stories to kids. And that my son is 5..... I can't imagine him having to call a stranger to read to him and am so thankful it never reached that point, but thats a harsh reality that it happens. Im hoping to find a way to volunteer a bit in this realm when Im a bit further into the recovery process. Hope you survived half term. x

  11. Very sad, my kids get a story every night now. They often would miss out, especially on weekends.

  12. "These include: fear of losing control, fear of emotions and feelings, conflict avoidance, harsh self-criticism and low self-esteem and difficulties with intimacy. "

    There was so much to copy and paste for me in this post :) I chose this comment because it kind of summaries for me where things really end up. I too could say "well I didn't affect my kids toooooo much". Ha! The deep reaching tentacles of the drink create so many other problems that the obvious ones don't they?

    One I noticed was not wanting my kids to ever cry. Because it made ME sad. Not letting them have their emotions and see them through is not OK and luckily I have now learned this (thanks to my 23 year old pointing it out).
    M xx

  13. Second post today about the families of alcoholics and my feeling that they get little/no support.

    I remember having an email exchange with Liam Bryne one of the MPs who is trying to get better provision for children of alcoholics currently last year when he spoke in the commons on this topic.

    My daugther was 8 when I went off to rehab. She recently admitted I don't feature as a father to her in her memories until she was about 12. I robbed her of a father for all that time, including the first 4 years of my recovery since so much trust had been destroyed between us. She went through all that with no professional support at all.