Question to recovered parents

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.)
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Question to recovered parents

Post by Carma »

For those who became sober while raising children, what do you tell them about drinking alcohol? Do you forbid it or encourage appropriate social drinking as they grow up? How do you explain your own non-drinking? Do you warn them about the genetic predisposition to alcoholism?

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by leejosepho »

Each of my two daughters proved to be a troubled, problem drinker beginning in her 'teens after I got started in A.A., and both are responsible, adult parents today. One describes herself as a recovered alcoholic member of A.A.
What do you tell them about drinking alcohol? Do you forbid it or encourage appropriate social drinking as they grow up?
I had given them sips of beer during my own drinking when they were young, and I never told them not to drink after I got sober. For as long as they were underage, I just made certain they understood the statutes related to underage drinking and that those were applicable for them even at home. When one of them once disregarded that, I had her arrested and then ultimately asked a judge to jail her for repeated offenses. For her, my rules at that time were simple: "No alcohol, drugs or sex in the house and park in your assigned spot." She hated me for that for a while, but it did slow her down a bit.
How do you explain your own non-drinking? Do you warn them about the genetic predisposition to alcoholism?
I did exactly as described in our book. I told them why alcohol disagrees with me (the allergy), then explained how that happens because of some abnormal body chemistry they might have inherited from me.* However, I was very cautious about *never* saying anything at all about either of them possibly also being "alcoholic" like me in the emotional or mental department in relation to the first drink. Rather, I just told them they might some day find themselves unable to control their drinking while drinking and then also possibly discover they could not just "put the plug in the jug" and leave it there...and then I continued answering questions whenever asked while waiting for the 12th-Step opportunities that eventually came.

*I spoke of alcoholism freely and openly without ever using the word "alcoholic" while talking with them.
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by PaigeB »

My children were young adults when I quit drinking. As must of them knew I had a problem and even had or had seen problems with alcohol themselves, there was not much for me to say beyond "You most certainly have a genetically transmitted disease. There is nothing you can do personally except seek treatment. The only thing I have found that works is Alcoholics Anonymous and the meetings you see me go to all the time. Meetings that now take precedent in my life, but not as bad as the alcohol did."

And each of them took a drink LONG before the age of legal drinking - In my mind, prior to that age, there is no "appropriate social drinking." Personally, I often wonder if all that drinking before my brain had finished growing wasn't part of the problem! I have one daughter who does not drink and has had no problems to turn her toward that "no drinking". But she was the child who did not drink until she was in her 20's. My story is that I drank around 12 and loved it the first time - I sought it out the rest of my life.

That, and then amends when I got to Step 9. Each of them were glad for me and each of them promised to reach out if they felt the need. Each of them has been to at least one meeting on their own, aka I did not drive them or invite them to see me get a milestone chip. I have found that my help is worse than no help at all. On the other hand, I have not found it hard at all to leave them in the hands of other alcoholics ~ those are the people who saved my life afterall. :wink:
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by avaneesh912 »

My Son is well placed spiritually even though he is only 13 but I see the isms in my daughter. She knows she comes from a lineage of alcoholics. She has seen the damage but, is it going to stop her from trying? God only knows. I will let God take care of her. She is already addicted to Social Media and her grades have been going down. My Sponsor adviced I will have to "let her do the deal and come out of it, just like we did with our alcoholism".

We can only tell, but can't tell much.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by ezdzit247 »

Hi Carma

My son was about 8 when I started going to AA and about 10 when I finally got sober. I was an at home drinker so he knew what I was like sober and what happened to me when I drank, first hand, and had decided a sober mom was better than a drunk mom long before I did. I never lectured him about not drinking or warned him about a possible genetic predisposition, and neither forbid or nor encouraged social drinking while he was growing up. One of his grandfathers was non-alcoholic, the head brewmeister of a large brewery, did a lot of social drinking and kept a well stocked bar in the family room. The other grandfather was a recovered alcoholic who played chess and took his grandkids fishing and camping. The only time I remember ever having an alcohol-related talk with my son was when he got his driver's license and it was a very one-sided "talk". I told him if he was at a party or anywhere and drank anything that he could not drive his car. The drill was he was to leave his car parked and call me, his stepfather, or grandparents and we would pick up when he was done partying. This rule was non-negotiable and he knew that if he ever broke it, even once, even a little, I would rip up his driver's license and cancel his insurance. He was really really angry with me over this issue from about age 16 to 18, but after he graduated from high school and was about to start college, he thanked me for being "tough on him". By this time, two of his close friends had killed themselves in single car drunk driving accidents, and four his other friends had had their licenses cancelled because of traffic tickets and accidents. I think the best way for a sober alcoholic to raise kids is to be a good example of happy, joyous and free recovery, make AA a program of attraction rather than promotion. In that way, if the kids ever find that they have problem with either drugs or alcohol, they will also know that there's a solution to their problem in AA. That's what worked for me.

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by Niagara »

I neither forbid nor encourage it. looking at my own experiences, it seems pointless, to be honest.

I was 13 when I had my first drink. My daughter is 15, doesn't drink. My 18 year old had a couple of beers at 16+. He had too much vodka at a birthday party back in april, and hasn't touched a drop since. My 20 year old works hard all week, away from home, and likes to have a drink on the weekends. My youngest is only 12 and says 'it stinks, how can people drink that stuff'.

I think though, regardless of what I say or advise, much as i did, they will go their own way with this. I couldn't be told, and wouldn't be told, until it well and truly kicked my backside. This has sparked a memory, actually. After that first drink, ending up passed out on a field in the morning at school, I had to go to work in the newsagents later that day after school. One of the girls who was about 20 who worked there, smelled it on me. She warned me, told me she'd had problems herself, and I should avoid it because it's not easy to get out of, and it can take you to really bad places...looking back, I wonder now if she was in AA herself. I really hope they don't have to go through that (or worse) but I do know that me harping on about it, or forbidding them, likely won't make a blind bit of difference. In fact, if they are anything like me, telling them not to do it will only make them wonder why, and spark their curiosity even more. Kind of like when I saw a wet paint sign. I always had to touch it, to see if it WAS wet. Always had to learn the hard way.

This is one of my motivating factors with recovery actually. Prior to recovery, i was very much 'do as I say, not as I do'...but kids learn a lot by what they see us doing. Maybe even more than what they hear us saying. These days I try to lead by example.

Its so hard raising kids. We want them to be happy, get everything right, as we didn't..but I think sometimes we have to let them make their own mistakes. They have growing to do too. Everything I went through, was for a purpose. I believe that with all my heart, now. It's the same for my children, no matter how much I want to protect them and 'get it right' for them. We all have lessons to learn.

I don't explain my non drinking. I don't have to. They get it. I don't think they did at first, but when they saw the change in me, they began to. I was never a well bunny before, even when I wasn't drinking. Anxious, depressed, bleh. They know it's not like that anymore, and they're respectful of my sobriety. My older boys don't bring it in the home. The elder one popped home the other day for something after going to the pub - he apologized for being tipsy in the house. I've never said don't come home drunk, or booze is forbidden, I guess they just know where it took me to, and that things are so much better without it.
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month -
Theodore Roosevelt

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by D'oh »

My daughter 21, is a Tea Toddler like her mother. She can either take it or leave it. She was well into her teens though before my relapse. Although she does show signs as I did of not letting people know the real her, she is very well adapted.

My son 18 how ever shows many signs of having a problem with drinking. Even before my relapse. Which I hope to maybe curve by being an example, that there is a way out that works.

Both were raised by my Mother's belief that "There are only 2 things that you can give your kids. Feet, and Wings." Give them a firm foundation, and let them find their own way. As tough as it maybe a times.

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Re: Question to recovered parents

Post by SoberSarahK »

I am building on what was done from me; my dad took me aside at 13 and explained what addiction was, outed himself as a relationship addict, and warned me to be careful about peer pressure, because addiction is a train you can’t stop once you’ve boarded. It wasn’t until 36 that addiction hit me, and by then I had two small children. We explained to them Mommy and Daddy made some mistakes and that we had to go to school (rehab) to heal the family. We are teaching them about attachments to compulsive coping behavior, using our rational brain not our lizard brains when we make choices, and have connected some of their struggles with screen time boundaries to addiction.

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