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Old 06-05-2008, 05:47 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Here's what I think is one important aspect we havent considered on this post....anonimity. I expect grownups to be able to keep my identity confidential, but how can I expect a 5 or even a 10 year old to do so?
I am glad that this thread was started. I too, have experienced this. One of my very first meetings there was this little girl running around back and forth between her mom and dad from one end of the room to the other. (Why they didn't sit next to each other, I don't know.)

I found it to be very irritable and distracting then. Since that time I have softened a bit, but still think that the parents really need to be considerate of those around as well.

While we are being open minded and considering their situations, I think it is totally inapprorpriate for a parent to let their kids run around and ignore them focusing on the speaker as if nothing is going on. In this case I would hope the chair would speak to them.

I also, personally feel, that there are things said in these meetings not for children's ears. I know that I would not share as openly about certain things if a child were present... regardless of whether or not their parent thought it were appropriate.

And, finally, (I guess I had a lot to say on this!) KJ brought up an excellent point that I had not even considered! Now I have one more thing to be paranoid about. I have not shared my AA and new sobriety with many and fear that others will find out about thru gossip and the grapevine. That is just not something I could deal with right now.

Bottom line: I am avoiding meetings with children and now that I know there are some out there that have age restrictions... I may look for those.

Thanks, everyone!

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Old 06-05-2008, 07:25 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I agree with the 4th tradition. The group has a right to set policies to keep the atmosphere conducive to recovery. But I think a black and white line in the sand policy of no kids can be damaging, I'll provide to real examples:

I was six months without a meeting ( military obligations), my wife and I had just had our first child, she was 2 months old, there were only two meetings per week in the entire county we lived in, we decided we would attend one together ( it had been at least 3 months for the wife). We agreed that if our daughter woke up and became restless we would take turns taking her out of the room. We never got the chance...

We got to the meeting and were told in no uncertain terms that this meeting was closed ( alcoholics only) and they had a no child policy. We told a few group members our situation and asked, telling them what we would do if our two month old became a distraction we would leave the room. We were told in a rather cold manner that we could stay, but our child could not...

Common sense???

A few years after that experience, I was at a meeting and a single mom showed up, black eye, scrapes and scrathces on her neck. She had three kids and looked like a newcomer. She was asked to leave, she was told about a meeting where there was child care ( it was several days away). She told the group she did not know where to go, the indifference and un-caring was more than I could take.

I took her to get coffee ( none of the women I invited would go with us). I had just moved to this area so I did not know alot of people, but I took her to child services...

Then the rumors at the meeting started ( 13th stepper)

I do not mean to divert. The point is that while the group does have a right to have a no children policy if it deems it necessary we still have a higher calling, to carry the message to the still suffering. A group coscience decision like this should always allow for some bending
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:50 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I am one of several single moms in my area. A few of us meet on Wednesday nights at one of our homes, and bring our children. It's an informal get together, where we can talk about recovery, children etc and connect as women.

I have been bringing my daughters to meetings since they were 6 and 9. My youngest is nearly 13 now and still comes to the occasional meeting. I have always brought snacks, books, etc, and they always behaved. Although I could afford a sitter, I preferred to have them with me - they only ever attended open meetings. If the speaker's content was at all inappropriate, I quietly excused myself and my children.

I understand that some parents just don't 'get it' when it comes to disruptions, and I try to be cognizant of this, while also practicing tolerance. If that meeting helps the parent to stay sober, then I'll put up with a little distraction. So many children live within a home where alcoholism is prevalent, and it breaks my heart.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:00 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I have shed a few tears reading this whole thread. A few thoughts to ponder because I have.

Alcoholism is a family disease, are those who would consider denying a parent to bring a well behaved child practicing our code of Love and tolerance?

Bill W. said and I totally agree that the most important person in a meeting is the newcomer, would one be working the 12th step right if they did not find a way to allow a newcomer to attend meetings with a child?

I have seen more then one crusty old timer entertaining the children of newcomers and walking the hall with a cranky baby to where mom could stay a sober mom, these folks are walking the walk and not talking the talk!

Is not part of the result of the program escaping self and becoming part of the world?

Are not children a part of the world?

I am not saying that parents should not make every effort to control thier children, but if the parent is a newcomer should those of us with more solid sobriety not be reaching out the hand of AA and helping them in thier recovery by simply giving those parents with children a hand?

We can get up in the middle of the night, meet with another person, drive to a wet drunks house, talk with the wet drunk for hours and then take the wet drunk to detox and at the same time find it inconveniant to help the same person who later on shows up at a meeting with a kid or 2 in tow with a single hour of our time?
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:52 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I hope that on forumns like this we become a bit more open minded. Often times in groups there is a tendency towards group think which is not healthy. I hope we take these inputs here back to our home groups
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:43 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I hope that on forumns like this we become a bit more open minded. Often times in groups there is a tendency towards group think which is not healthy. I hope we take these inputs here back to our home groups
Steve, what thread have you been reading? All sides of this issue have been explored on this thread as far as I am concerned, and many great points raised. I don't see a lack of open-mindedness on this thread that you are referring to.
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:49 AM   #27 (permalink)
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thanks Navey = yes I have seen group think ruin group conciuos....for me I really have problems with kids in meetings because of myself.....yet i have never agreed with asking the parent to leave or shunning them. but i honestly don't like it and am uncomfortable with it. And it has been a real learning experience to work on a personal inventory and look at myself in this area. And an oportunity to practice step 12.

Some people have shared some very helpful things in the thread for me about how I can deal with this in a loving caring way.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:59 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I never said there was a lack of open mindedness. I simply stated that we become more open minded by reading threads like this and take it back to our groups
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:02 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Oh - i see - reread your post.....just one of the things about email/cyber talk....was easy to misunderstand that one

Thanks for clarifying!
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:00 AM   #30 (permalink)
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My group's meeting is closed period. We have turned away parents with kids, and kid's with parents. This would seem contrary to what I have posted about my own experience, but actually I agree with and stand by the closed status of a group.

Closed meetings are for AA members or for someone seeking help for their drinking problem. I believe this is one area that my group should not bend in. The whole reason closed meetings were started was AA members wanting to have meetings away from their spouses and kids.

By the way Taz, the newcomer isn't the most important person in the room. No one is the most important person in the room. The traditions are about unity and the good of the group comes before the good of the individual and if I were more important than you, where's the unity there?
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:01 AM   #31 (permalink)
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"............. i expect grownups to be able to keep my identity confidential, but how can I expect a 5 or even a 10 year old to do so? I'd sure hate to be somewhere with my mom or work partner (we work in the community) and have a fellow member's children run up and say "Hey, Miss KJ, I know you...you go to NA or AA with my Mommy........'

say what???????????????????????????????????????????

when i started making meetings regurally
one of the first things that inspired me was the awesomeness of children at meetings
wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!
just by being there
they get to pick up the benefits of the program
not by the big book, steps, service, phone calls, carrying the message, etc
but
by thru our sharing and by the example of sober people
a group of us sitting their sharing our strenght, hope and experiences
in an organized, serene setting, etc
double wow
there was someone with time in the program with a child
i knew he / she had avout 8 years sober
and
i asked the child's age
he / she said 4
the first thing i said is
"he / she never saw you drunk"
can you imagine that?
so
i always loved kids
albeit, looking back
i may have been a bit frivilous
i would go but 6, 7 gifts for the kids each month
and
send them to the moms
on valentines day
i would send the expensive, exquisite small valentine's day hearts,(russell stover, $1.09)
lol
to others, guys included
because "i love AA"
someone shared how they were going to asia to adopt a child
say what?
i bought a beautiful, expensive,
ok, 20 bucks
outfit and gift wrapped it for the parents
imagine coming into the program
and
literally sharing your recovery
and
changing a child's life also

so
i don't get into
kids are loud, distracting, etc
gee, if i don't get a chance to share at a meeting because mom has to change a diaper
well, there's another meeting, my sponsor, the meeting after the meeting, etc

in my meighborhood, we did start a child friendly meeting years ago
with a playroom
terrific
one freinds has been bringing his sons there,
i've seen them grow, and change
and
yeah, they play in a organized, serene setting
very quietly,and there are never any toys to put back
the kids have learned to do that

i can give example after example of the positive effect of bringing kids to meetings
if anything on me
i always buy my niece a christmas gift,
sometines there's a 'sing a song' or fairy tale videoon sale
as in $1.00
i but it for the candy store guy up the block cause he's got 2 kids, etc

but, but, but
a 5 year old breaking my anonymity???
if i was in a store
and
someone's 5 year old came over to say
"hi, frank, aren't you the guy at the AA meeting"
i would smile
say "thanks for sharing"
and
ask the mom if i could buy him an ice cream
and
guess what?
been there, done that

best
frankie
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:06 AM   #32 (permalink)
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It's been mentioned on this thread that there are meetings where children aren't allowed, or that meetings aren't an appropriate atmosphere for kids. What is the definition of "children", what age group?

The reason I ask is because I started drinking at 14, and from what I've heard shared in AA that's a pretty common age range for some of us, the early teens. At the meetings I attend we've got a large amount of "young people" under the age of 18, the youngest I've seen was 15.

We also send recovering addicts and alcoholics into our schools to speak to our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, right?

I'm pretty sure we're referring to very young children here, too young to understand when to be quiet and respectful. But my thought is that some of them could be "alcoholics and addicts in training". I'd rather they were at a meeting to have the opportunity to see how rich our lives have become in recovery.

One other quick thought: I've noticed quite a few adults at our meetings who feel the need to talk during the announcements, readings, and speaker portion of the meeting. It's pretty interesting that some of us aren't mature enough to be respectful towards those who'd like to hear the message.

Sorry, I'll shut up and step down off my soapbox now;-)
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:07 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Jim I was paraphrasing what Bill W. said in "As Bill see's it" so I did not just pull that statement out of my butt. I agree with you that know one is above another in AA.

I have also heard it said that the newcomer is the lifeblood of AA........ without newcomers 40 years from now AA would be just a few very old people just being happy to see another survivor.

In regards to a closed meeting excluding children, I would leave that to the groups conscience, I really do not feel that a sleeping 6 month old child would take away anything from a closed meeting, but I sure do see your point if it was an older child that may go running their mouths to neighbors or school chums.
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:12 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Astro made me think a bit more, I started drinking at about 11...............

We have a 15 year old in our rooms, I gave a ride a few days back to a young lady with 3 years sober who just finished her freshman year in college which means she came into the rooms before she graduated HS.
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:24 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for their comments on this thread. I am now definitely more open-minded about fellow alcoholics bringing their kids to meetings.

Last month, a woman I know brought her 7 year old daughter to a meeting. The little girl is a classmate & friend of my little boy. My son does not know that I am an alcoholic and that I attend AA meetings. I’m just not ready to share that part of my life with my children (they have seen me drinking but not the uglier stuff). I was very uncomfortable at the meeting and I did talk to my sponsor. I was scared that the kids would talk about it and it would affect my family. Of course, this turned out to be more self-centered thinking – I’m not that important even among 7 year olds .

We only have one meeting per night in my town. We don’t have the option of attending alternate meetings. If a fellow alcoholic needs to bring their children to meetings, I am going to accept it. He or she may really need to be there, it’s just too important. Like me, these people love and care for their own children and are trying to stay strong. I am blessed with people in my life (wife, mother in law, aunts, friends) that take care of my children while I work on my recovery - not everyone is so fortunate.

For me, it is really about getting out of that self-centered mindset (an ongoing process) and being there to help others. And whether people bring their kids or not, they are there to help me too. It's the variety of people that make the meetings I attend so powerful and I really have to appreciate everyone.
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:14 AM   #36 (permalink)
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If a fellow alcoholic needs to bring their children to meetings, I am going to accept it.
Now where have I heard about acceptance? LOL
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:45 AM   #37 (permalink)
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somehow, I thought the thread question was referring to open AA meetings, not closed AA meetings.

I fully appreciate that a closed AA meeting should be child free, but I believe that a sleeping infant, quite possibly, should be considered as an exception to the rule if no other open meetings are available nearby at that time.

open meetings are, well...open. "open" however doesn't mean a poorly supervised rambunctious child or group of children should be allowed to disrupt it for everyone else.

common sense.
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:09 AM   #38 (permalink)
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I can’t help but think of the quote by Brigham Young who said, “Crying children in church are like good intentions and should be carried out.” My thought is that the same thing should apply to AA meetings as well. I can still remember what it was like when I was new in the program and my nerves were more taunt than a violin string. A child running around not being supervised would have driven me back out those doors in a heart beat. Sorry if that upsets anyone, but I am giving you my experience.

However, I also feel there is a solution. I’ve sat with children several times in what one group calls the Alanon Room. (It was a separate room that the Alanon’s meet in but not at the same time as the regular group.) Any area that is safe for children to be in is a good place to be since little ears don’t need to hear some of the things we are talking about or the rants of some of us when we haven’t been socialized just yet (open or closed meetings). I try to remember what our primary purpose is and remember “for that, I am responsible”. I have to remember the newcomer who needs the opportunity to concentrate on the message being delivered in the meeting as well as that member who may have had no other recourse but to bring their child to a meeting. And that sometimes means that maybe I have to go out and sit with the kids while the parent gets the chance to listen. (At twenty-three years, I don’t think I’ll sustain too much damage having to miss a meeting or two.) Please consider this as well, I work at the elementary level of public education and children of that age level know how they are expected to act in public whether the parents do or not. Asking them to sit down and behave isn’t too much to ask. As far as when is too young or too old…I DO NOT want to see ANY of my students from school in a meeting, thank you very much, unless they have a problem with alcohol themselves. I do appreciate the fact that open or closed, it’s still Alcoholics Anonymous (heavily stressing the last word). Now I have no problem with a sleeping baby or toddler in arms being at a meeting. (A little common sense can be used in these cases people.) However, if there is smoking allowed in those meetings…see my last bracketed sentence.

I believe in the AA Program. I believe in the Principles set forth by its founders and I have seen them at work in countless members and groups. I will not throw myself against those rock solid ethics, for the sake of my personal opinion or political correctness. Regardless of my personal feelings on the subject, the rule of the group conscience is absolute. If I don’t agree with their directives then I have but two courses for action…comply or leave. It’s as simple as that.
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:32 AM   #39 (permalink)
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I can’t help but think of the quote by Brigham Young who said, “Crying children in church are like good intentions and should be carried out.”


As far as when is too young or too old…I DO NOT want to see ANY of my students from school in a meeting, thank you very much, unless they have a problem with alcohol themselves. I do appreciate the fact that open or closed, it’s still Alcoholics Anonymous (heavily stressing the last word). Now I have no problem with a sleeping baby or toddler in arms being at a meeting. (A little common sense can be used in these cases people.) However, if there is smoking allowed in those meetings…see my last bracketed sentence.

If I don’t agree with their directives then I have but two courses for action…comply or leave. It’s as simple as that.

I haven't heard that quote by Brigham Young in a long time. It made me smile.

I have really appreciated reading everyone's thoughts on here. This is no doubt a sticky situation and I don't think one rule could apply to all. I personally also do not have any problems with a sleeping baby or a toddler. I also do not have any problems with teenagers coming in. It is the ages of about 3-8 that I personally think it is a tough situation for.

Hopefully we will all take what we have read into perspective next time we see a child at a meeting and be able to keep the best interests of the parents, the children and the other members in attendence in mind.

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Old 06-06-2008, 12:16 PM   #40 (permalink)
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I think that the best solution would be childcare at meetings, having had children, that would be what I would want if they were little. I know some people think I'm paranoid, but I'm not sure some understand the stigma that drug addiction has in certain jobs. People who work in elementary schools, military intel, prisons, police, and medical professionals are fired all the time when drug addiction is discovered. To some people, a juicy piece of gossip they heard from a friend of a friend who has a child in my meeting would be just something fun to talk about. They might not understand the implications for me and my teenage son, who has a mental disorder that would make him suffer greatly from increased anxiety if he got attention at school from my problem. He doesn't need that type of trouble now, he has enough problems. I'm glad I have a variety of meetings to go to, and I appreciate some of the thoughtful responses this topic has generated. I'd never want any alcoholic or addict to go without a meeting on my account, I'd leave so they would get to stay with their kids. I can't wait for the day I can retire so this isn't an issue any in my life anymore. Then I'm sure I'll feel less stressed and more happy to see the kids. And yes, in my original post, I wasn't referring to infants, they can't even gossip yet, or be bothered by the "rough talk" or cussing that sometimes occurs. And they are easily carried out when they cry. Neither was I referring to fellow alcoholics who are in their teens. They've earned their seat, and I expect them to be responsible with anonymity and other rules of behavior. I was talking about maybe elememtary school age kids, ones that can speak in complete sentences but aren't old enough to trust with secrets. Gosh, when mine were that age, they'd tell my family what their Christmas gifts were, down to the color sweater I'd bought them, and my son used to tell my Mom if I was dating someone. So I know they can't usually keep a juicy secret. Maybe your kids are just quieter about stuff then mine were??? I still wouldn't trust my 16 year old at a meeting, even if he knew about me, I know for a fact that he would "tell on" other parents there. He's a born gossip.
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