Explaining to a child

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

Explaining to a child

Postby kittyr » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:42 am

I got sober two years ago when my daughter was three. I took her to meetings in the early days when I was trying to get a lot in, but now i just go once a week when she's at her dad's and sometimes on my lunch break when I'm working in the city. She didn't know or ask what they were about when she did come, she just watched cartoons on a portable dvd player and ate all the cookies, and I haven't taken her in a long time.

A girlfriend in the program recently moved in with us as she had to leave a violent partner. Sometimes she says things like 'I'm off to a meeting guys" and heads off. Which I find appropriate. But recently my daughter asked what kind of meetings our friend goes to. I said it was up to my friend to answer and she could ask her later, but I also started to wonder how to tell my child about my own sobriety. It's not a big deal, just at some point someone will mention it in front of her, especially with another program friend living with us. I'm pretty open about being in AA and sober and while it doesn't come up in conversation with my daughter, it's only a matter of time until someone mentions it to me in front of her. And she's a curious kitten these days, unlike when she was three, so she'll ask questions.

I don't mind telling her, it's not a secret, I just am not entirely sure about the most age appropriate way to explain it. She has zero recollection of my ever having been a drunk and hopeless mum, so I'm not sure what or how to explain....
Has anyone else explained to a young child about AA? How did you approach it?
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Re: Explaining to a child

Postby Lali » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:44 am

Good to see you, Kitty! I don't have children, but this sounds like a great topic for anyone who does.
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Re: Explaining to a child

Postby clouds » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:56 pm

I dont think I did explain when they were that young. I got sober when my youngest was 10 months and my oldest was 3. They loved my sponsor and my closest AA friend and our families got together and the children got to know one another. It was just 'meetings.', they didnt ask what kind of meetings. Its funny but until we moved out to the pacific coast in Canada, AA people were frequently in our home. I dont know what or why things were so different in AA on the coast, but it was only two years later that my marraige ended and things changed drastically. In their teenage years of course they understood that I didnt drink or do drugs and I was very miffed when they tried out the funny cigarettes etc. I guess it was then some of my experince came to the fore and I was more explanitory on the subject. It was hell when they both began to show signs of serious drinking problems, dishonesty and a lot of partying, one with serious drug addiction.

I really thought my own sobriety would count for something in the universe, as if my working through it should have saved them from the same fate. Ah well. No, there isnt much point in believing in a santy clause god that I take a list of things I want in life to, as it says in the 12 and 12. They had to find their own way to sobriety, both went to AA, one had several years of sober living, but is now in rehab mostly for drugs and the other seemed to cut back a lot before she died

Probably a child psychologist could tell you how best to approach this subject with your little ones.
Last edited by clouds on Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Explaining to a child

Postby Tosh » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:54 am

kittyr wrote:I don't mind telling her, it's not a secret, I just am not entirely sure about the most age appropriate way to explain it.


"I meet up with people who have problems to try and help them. And that also helps me!" That would be the angle I'd take. And in general, if I'm out somewhere and someone offers me a drink, I just tell them I'm an alcoholic and laugh. And when they look at me quizzically, I say "Serious, I'm an alkie" and smile. Just be light-hearted about it; we're not a glum lot.

Kids are born open-minded and gentle (apart from when they're throwing tantrums in supermarkets because you won't let them destroy the soap powder boxes display); I'm sure they'd understand the 'helping others with problems' bit.

Saying all that, my step daughter was 12 years old when I stopped drinking. After my first A.A. meeting she put her hands on her hips and said, "He'll never stop drinking! C'mon, where have you hidden it?" and she started looking in my usual places to try and prove me wrong.

Well she's 19 years old shortly, so I guess I've showed her... :twisted:
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Re: Explaining to a child

Postby ann2 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:59 am

I was sober before my children were born but not able to attend meetings until my oldest was 2. At that time we said I was going to a meeting, just like Daddy goes to meetings.

Later when they asked what we did at meetings I explained that we sat around and talked. Sounded boring so I didn't get more questions.

Finally when my oldest was 11 I sat down and talked to her about my drinking, my sobriety, and A.A. meetings. I think it was a bit of a shock but also helpful because she wanted to know where I'd been and perhaps had noticed that I don't drink.

I haven't had the talk with my youngest who is now 9. Honestly, I don't think she would understand.

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