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How do you tell when "it" is affecting the children?

Old 07-16-2010, 07:24 PM
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How do you tell when "it" is affecting the children?

I have 4 children, 2,3,8 & 14. Also have 2 Step children, 6 & 8. I had it in my head that provided it wasn't adversly affecting the kids, that I could cope with all the rest.

For me I think the younger ones are oblivious to their fathers drinking. He doesn't get drunk and rant and rave at them. Although at times he can be a bit short with them. At the moment my main concern is my 14 year old son, who thinks the sun shines out of step fathers bottom!
I have for so long wanted to talk to my son about it, but for whatever reason felt like I couldn't. Tuesday night AH wasn't home so I said to my son;
"Does Dad's drinking ever worry you"
"No"
"What about when he gets abit cranky with you?"
"Oh yeah, but I can get over that"
"Can you really get over it"
"yeah, and anyway mum he is cutting down"
"How would you know if he is cutting down?"
"cause I asked him the other night, I noticed he hasn't been drinking as much"
"And he told you he was cutting back?"
"yes, and anyway he only drinks half a bottle a night"
I nearly fell off the chair! I seriously did not realise that my son knew that AH drank over half a bottle of Whiskey a night!
I said "You do realise that it's not good for you to drink that much every night?"
My son says "No, Why?"
I explain to him the affects on the body mind and soul.

Last thing I want is for my children to think that it is "normal".

Just wanting other peoples experiences as to when people realised the alcoholic in the family was having a negative impact on the children? Especially when there is no abuse towards the children.
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:30 PM
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There does not have to be physical abuse for the children to be affected. If they are living in the house with an alcoholic, you can be sure they are affected. Even the youngest ones know that something isn't right. It is a horrible upbringing for them. We have an ACOA forum here. Take a look at it. Read the stories from people who grew up in an alcoholic environment. It isn't pretty.
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:41 PM
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I have read them. And yes it is a horrible upbringing! I am at present preparing myself to leave in the next few weeks. There are reasons for needing to get through the next few weeks though.
And I know that if affects them. Was just interested as to what was a defining moment for others. I think my big defining moment was when my 2 year old started copying his father. Of a night he will go to the cupboard, get a cup, go to the freezer, fill it with ice, go outside, sit up beside Dad, and say "Drink Daddy". Oh it makes me want to cry that even my baby boy is modelling his fathers behaviour, without him even being able to understand how wrong it is.
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:45 PM
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It's good to hear you have a plan. When kids do things like what your 2 year old did, it really smacks us in the face to realize what they pick up on, even when we think they don't pay attention. I'm reminded of the phrase...little pitchers have big ears. They are like little sponges at that age.
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:54 PM
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If "it" is affecting me, I can be sure "it" is affecting them.

Thanks and God bless us all,
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:55 PM
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I am an adult child of an alcoholic and I married 2 alcholics and don't know that I ever had a healthy relationship with most people until I started to work on myself--at the age of 36. I'm 51 now and am still working on it.

For 26 years I lived in total confusion of what normal was--for everything, not just drinking.

When I saw my older son start acting like I did when I was his age-I knew it was time for me to go and that I should have left sooner. He is only 9 and says the same things as your 14 year old. He is already making excuses and saying dad is not drinking as much. But he is also embarassed to have his friends around when he dad starts drinking. 2 years ago we were at an adoption reunion with the 2 families we traveled with and stbxah got black out drunk both nights. Older son was so upset because hisfriends saw his Dad drooling drunk. Year before that he got so drunk he was in the bathroom vomiting and sh***ing himself at the same time. Son got to hear that. You grow up with that long enough with no one saying this is not right and you learn that it is normal--and it's not. It is a horrible way to grow up and can ruin your life if you don't have someone pull you out.

They do notice when they are younger. When my older son was 3 he called every beverage that came in a can beer. If something celebratory happened he ran to the freezer to get the chilled shot glasses (dad had vodka, he had juice but they toasted so they had already started to drink together). As an added twist, my AH is also uses marijuana and started getting high with my adult nephew (yep, he is old enough to make his own choices and they are bad ones). But that was a big eye opener too. stbxah crossed the line and was getting drunk and high with kids I helped raise. So I started thinking--at what age will he introduce our son to booze and drugs. He's 49 and thinks it is OK to get bombed and go to my 20 year old nephew's house looking for drugs. My nephew tossed him out of his house. Oh, and my nephew-he grew up watching his uncle drink. I was over one Christmas morning and he was sitting there drinking his booze out of a bag (so no one would notice. . .) My nephew was 4. I told my sister either he stopped or I left. Guess what, she was pissed off too but did not want to say anything. Shhhh, don't say anything you might make him mad. WHAT?

It is good that you are talking to your son and letting him know his dad's behavior is not normal. Maybe it might be a good idea if he started AlaTeen. I wish there was something for my 9 year old.

When I saw the name of your thread I had a visceral reaction--so it sticks with you for awhile. The thing I lost first and am having the hardest time learning is trust. The other thing I lost and had to work hard on regaining was my self-esteem. It hurts when you are an adult and your alcoholic won't stop drinking for you--the booze is more important. It hurts more when you are a child because the person who is hurting you is also the person who is supposed to be taking care of you.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:23 PM
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I can't help but think that, if the alcoholic in you life is affecting you, then that means his behavior is out of whack, and if he's behavior is out of whack, then yes, it is affecting the children in the household.

I wouldn't say that you're sugar-coating your husband, but based on your original post, it doesn't indicate the crazy-making, the lack of a high level of responsibility, and the lack of good communication that is typical in a alcoholic home. But I would guess that those things are true in yours.

If what I'm guessing is correct, then of course your children are affected negatively. And if it's not correct, then why are you in turmoil at all? Just what I think based on my years of knowing and being with them. It is dysfunction, plain and simple.

Peace to you in your decision.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:28 PM
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Wife2Kids,

Thanks for you post. It's comforting to hear similar stories.

I told my AH 2 weeks ago that he stops drinking or I am gone, told him that I never wanted to get to the point where I have to defend the children from his drunken behaviour. As it is now, I already try to shield them from it by trying to ensure that they are in bed sound asleep before he gets drunk. Bit harder with the 14 year old though. My gosh I've witnessed my AH at a friends Sons 18th Birthday ask all the boys, while my son was present, as what age did they all start masturbating!! I was mortified! Told him to stop it, that it was none of his business to be asking such things and that it was totally inappropriate. But he wouldn't let up until each and everyone of them had "fessed" up. So totally disgusting! Gosh only knows what my son was thinking! I never asked. Until this week I've never said anything to him. And really there is a part of me that through my AH conditioning me, has made me feel that I have no right to discuss such things with the children.
When I told my husband I was leaving, he put it back on me and said "how would you like it if I threatened to take the kids of you because you smoke cigarettes?, you have an addiction, yet I don't pull that crap on you, smoking will damage the kids as well"
In a sense he does have a point, I know it's a bad thing on many levels. But like I pointed out to him "Smoking does not make me act like an idiot, it does not alter my personality, it doesn't give me a hang over, and I talk to my children about it, the effects that it has etc, but mainly it doesn't turn me into a nasty so and so. And hello fool, you smoke too!"

I say to my husband, you can have all the excuses in the world, but it wont give you any good reason.

We live an hour away from the nearest city that would have alanon/alateen. I am seeing a psychologist, we are at present working on me, so that I can get away from this madness and do it with a healthier state of mind which in turn I can pass onto my children.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:33 PM
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They think they're so smart with all their rationalizing. They don't have a clue how ridiculous they sound to the non-alcoholic. It just amazes me how they justify all their crap. I'm glad you are getting help for yourself and I hope you will be able to soon get yourself and those kids out from under that chaos.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Wife2Kids View Post
For 26 years I lived in total confusion of what normal was--for everything, not just drinking.
This is so true. There really wasn't a defining moment - more like a growing realization. I also began to understand that some of the things I struggled with most as an adult - and that led to some of my very poor decisions - were a result of *my* childhood, which I had always considered quite good. I realized that I did not have a good point of reference.

The only thing I have to add is that my dh was not a negative presense in the house - until I filed for divorce. The last three months were not pretty and my children will have emotional scars that will follow them. I wish I'd have found the strength to make sure we were living in seperate houses asap. There was no way to control what he said and did around them when I wasn't there, but I sure didn't have to subject them to us living together and the things that happened in those three months. Lots of all night drunk fests where he just ranted and raved at me, one time he threw things around in the kitchen. He had never done that before and I have so much regret that they have that in their memories.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by timeheals View Post
Wife2Kids,

Thanks for you post. It's comforting to hear similar stories.

I told my AH 2 weeks ago that he stops drinking or I am gone, told him that I never wanted to get to the point where I have to defend the children from his drunken behaviour. As it is now, I already try to shield them from it by trying to ensure that they are in bed sound asleep before he gets drunk. Bit harder with the 14 year old though. My gosh I've witnessed my AH at a friends Sons 18th Birthday ask all the boys, while my son was present, as what age did they all start masturbating!! I was mortified! Told him to stop it, that it was none of his business to be asking such things and that it was totally inappropriate. But he wouldn't let up until each and everyone of them had "fessed" up. So totally disgusting! Gosh only knows what my son was thinking! I never asked. Until this week I've never said anything to him. And really there is a part of me that through my AH conditioning me, has made me feel that I have no right to discuss such things with the children.
When I told my husband I was leaving, he put it back on me and said "how would you like it if I threatened to take the kids of you because you smoke cigarettes?, you have an addiction, yet I don't pull that crap on you, smoking will damage the kids as well"
In a sense he does have a point, I know it's a bad thing on many levels. But like I pointed out to him "Smoking does not make me act like an idiot, it does not alter my personality, it doesn't give me a hang over, and I talk to my children about it, the effects that it has etc, but mainly it doesn't turn me into a nasty so and so. And hello fool, you smoke too!"

I say to my husband, you can have all the excuses in the world, but it wont give you any good reason.

We live an hour away from the nearest city that would have alanon/alateen. I am seeing a psychologist, we are at present working on me, so that I can get away from this madness and do it with a healthier state of mind which in turn I can pass onto my children.

I am so proud of you for making this first step in changing your life for the better and changing your childrens lives, too. Don't let him sway you with his arguments. He is just trying to shift the blame off of him, onto you. They all do this. I am a horrible person because I won't let my kids on my stbxah's motorcycle, but I do let them ride horses in an arena, where there is deep sand. NO asphalt. Anyway, we have all heard it all before. Keep coming back here and it will help you keep things in perfective. All the crazy talk that he spouts off will not make a dent in you sanity when you realize that he is just trying to keep his lifestyle that way it is now. If you kick him out then he has to face what his life is (hopefully).
God bless, H
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Old 07-17-2010, 08:32 AM
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When I saw the name of your thread I had a visceral reaction--so it sticks with you for awhile. The thing I lost first and am having the hardest time learning is trust. The other thing I lost and had to work hard on regaining was my self-esteem. It hurts when you are an adult and your alcoholic won't stop drinking for you--the booze is more important. It hurts more when you are a child because the person who is hurting you is also the person who is supposed to be taking care of you.
Trust? Self-Esteem?
I am 51 too, Wife2Kids, and I am still struggling.
I too, had a gut wrenching reaction to the title.
Not your fault time heals, and if I think about it, my gut is telling me more work to do!
thank you.
Beth
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Old 07-17-2010, 08:37 AM
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Hi there. I grew up in an alcoholic household, both my parents were drunk most of the time. They finally sobered up when I was 18, going away to college and threatening to call child protection (my little brother, who I ended up parenting is 6 years younger than me, and I was NOT going to leave him in a home without protection). Of course I only have my experience to share. I'm not sure when I started being "affected", even adversely. I know that my parents weren't present, even though they were always there. In the end, my mom was much worse than my father was.. and she would (in my young mind) act so ridiculous.. she was always drunk by dinner time. I remember noticing this pretty much every night, and dare I say something I got a swift kick under the table to 'shut up' by my father. He totally enabled/protected her alcoholism. I still remember from a very young age, the smell of the alcohol on their breath when they'd put me to bed and kiss me goodnight. I'm 35 years old now, and I can STILL smell it. I spent a lot of time growing up wishing I lived with other families, embarrassed to bring friends over, eventually I retreated to my room writing poems of suicide, depression, and lonliness... cutting my arms up to take the pain from my head, to my skin.

I am an alcoholic, in recovery. I attended a LOT of counseling to help with my recovery, and spent many sessions talking about my growing up experiences, my hurts, my resentments, my unresolved and unacknowledged pain. Not that it 'made' me have the issues I had and still have, it is just the story of my life, of my childhood. Abandonment in a home where both parents were physically there. Neglect of my emotional needs as a child, and teen. Constant worry about my parents' health. Confusion about why they did what they did.. why they seemed so 'out of it' and unable to fully engage in my activities and development. I have a LOT of anger, still. I've put that in a place where I can deal with it, and of course I have my own adult life now that is fabulous, considering the pain of growing up around alcoholism.

I don't know what could have been different in my life had I not grown up in the environment that I did. But that was my experience, and I often wish it hadn't been.
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:22 AM
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that would have alanon/alateen. I am seeing a psychologist, we are at present working on me, so that I can get away from this madness and do it with a healthier state of mind which in turn I can pass onto my children.

good for you...you want HEALTHY ness for you and your children...
may you find your HIGHER POWER within you....and for the children...

its like a spider...all the legs are all the the alcoholism that its affected...you, I and everyone else...

Have a open mind and those children need AL ATEEN!!
Dont make excuses for the alcoholics behaviour...HE IS SICK....its a disease...

3 Cs
YOU did not cause it
YOU cant cure it
YOU cant control it

GOD BLESS!!
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Old 07-17-2010, 10:40 AM
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timeheals I am so happy that you are seeing a psychologist--it helps to have someone listen and provide support. Leaving can be harder when you have children. Part of me thought I have wrecked our family. I did not. I am trying to create a healthy environment for my kids. They still have their dad and it appears he is staying sober when he has them-which is good. He still drinks and gets high when he does not have them.

My 9 year old has difficulties with the separation/divorce but is dealing with it pretty well. He is sad we don't all live under the same roof but he knows why. I don't Daddy-bash but I don't lie either. stbxah can remain in denial as long as he likes--my kids have eyes--they see. They notice the difference in their dad now. He is still extremely selfish because whether he is drinking or not-life is all about him.

My 5 year old--about a month ago we started to pray differently at night and started talking to God instead of doing the rote night prayer. Once night he broke down crying and asked God to make Mama and Daddy live together again and stay married. Hard, very hard. I just hugged him and told him God wants us to do things but we have to decide ourselves what we will do and we can only change ourselves. Not sure that was useful or not. I also told him that some times God says no when we prayer for things and there are a reason. I don't deem to know God's will in our situation. I'm not that powerful. I do know I don't want my kids growing up having the same crazy childhood I have.
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Old 07-17-2010, 11:12 AM
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My heart is just breaking right now for all of you who had to go through the horror of living w/ an alcoholic parent, and for the OP's children who are currently living through it.

My 2 sisters both married alcoholics. They were all a lot older than me, and I had nieces and nephews close to my own age.

I remember once-my parents and I went to visit my oldest sister. I was probably around 8 or 9. I distinctly remember her husband being 2 sheets to the wind, and standing up in the middle of the living room, dropping his pants, and peeing all over the carpet. My sister rushed in to clean it up as if it was no big deal.

At that moment, I knew that wasn't right and wondered why on earth did everyone act like it was normal? Because i grew up in a healthy household, w/ 2 nonalcoholic parents, this DID NOT seem normal to me. I felt sad for my 2 step-nieces and nephews who had to deal with this kind of craziness DAILY. You don't wanna know how they turned out. Last I heard, the boy was in jail, and the girl had had 2 babies by 2 different "baby daddies".

My other sister...whenever I went over there to spend the night, there was always some drama going on with HER alcoholic husband. once, she woke us up at 2am and dragged us out so she could go to the bar and confront her husband where he was hanging out w/some cheap floozy.

Her 2 children have had serious problems in their adult life-no big surprise. Her son was in jail for driving on a suspended license ( i think it got suspended for a DUI, not sure)...and is in recovery now from heroin addiction.

Her daughter, who I'm still very close to, married a guy who I suspect may be an alcoholic. Her husband is 36 and already has heart disease and high blood pressure, and a host of other medical problems. My niece has always been an over-achiever...one of those over-compensators who, because of her father's alcoholism, has become a perfectionist. she had to grow up too soon-she was more like a parent to her mother than a child.

She has that whole "walking on eggshells" thing adult children of As talk about.

She has health problems of her own...migraines, her own high blood pressure problem...reproductive issues...

Look, I was not even the child of these women, and I know all of this affected me. Perhaps on some level, those experiences, in addition to the trauma I suffered around my divorce, led to me to get involved with an active alcoholic the last 3 yrs. Who knows? All I know is, no child should have to live in that kind of insanity, no matter how "benign" it seems to the codependent parent-they are being affected by it daily.
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Old 07-17-2010, 11:23 AM
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@sandrawpg... PLZ offer them all AL ANON....and you 2...hope your getting that also...no child should have to live like that..never mind being a ADULT CHILD OF AN ALCOHOLIC...
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Old 07-17-2010, 12:05 PM
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Oh yes, I am in al-anon now.

The step-niece and step-nephew...I have not seen or heard from for years, not since my mother's funeral. They loved my mother...she was the only person in their lives who ever showed them any love and compassion.

I plan on talking to my other nieces and nephews about al-anon.

Originally Posted by fourmaggie View Post
@sandrawpg... PLZ offer them all AL ANON....and you 2...hope your getting that also...no child should have to live like that..never mind being a ADULT CHILD OF AN ALCOHOLIC...
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Old 07-17-2010, 12:08 PM
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@sandrawg....AWESOME!!!
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:08 AM
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I am the daughter of two alcoholics, who divorced when I was 2 years old, both went their seperate way and both married alcoholics. I lived with my grandparents until I was they were my foundation, my cornerstone.

At 7 I went to live with my mother and her current husband, both drank, both partied. On weekends I went over to my fathers and watched them drink all weekend. I was drowning in alcohol, this went on until I was 18 and walked out the door, never to return.

I married 2 alcoholics (both deceased) and then topped it off by living with an cocaine addict/alcoholic.

Yes, I was a product of my enviorment as a child. I still carry the scars, at times I am bitter. My father stopped drinking 20 years ago, his alcoholic wife died 11 years ago, she smoked and drank herself to life. My father just died in February, not drinking, but, still the same as he was when drinking. My mother? Well, she is 84 and still drinking, still a pain in my side, although she now does not cross my bounderies.

My point? children hear and see everything, they internalize. The enviorment they are currently in is effecting them, the sooner you get them out of the chaos, they better they will do, today and as an adult.

I am sorry you are having to deal with this situation.
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