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Stuck. Feel like I'm hurting my boys

Old 11-16-2010, 11:57 AM
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Stuck. Feel like I'm hurting my boys

The other night we caught our son lying about doing his homework... again. W told him to go to bed. He turned (with a dramatic huff) and left. She didn't like his attitude and grabbed him by the arm (probably some nails involved here). He called her a bitch.

I had to step in and tell him that he can never talk to his mother like that. It is not acceptable. W grabbed his face (not hard) and went off on him about how he acts like he's entitled to everything we work so hard to give him.

I spoke with him privately. He said that he feels like she's always disappointed with him and sees him as a loser with no future. I told him that his future is whatever he wants it to be. Right now, he continues to make the same choices he's always made (not doing his work and lying about it). He's certainly capable of doing the work. But, nothing changes if nothing changes. He's got to decide he wants to do the work.

He said that he's walking on eggshells around her because he never knows when she's going to yell at him. Hey, I feel the same way!

When I told her this she started to vent. I took it personally and told her not to react. She told me to go %&#@ myself. I turned to go and said I wouldn't be spoken to that way. She went into the "O great! You're all against me! Just go upstairs and leave me down here" routine.

I told her if she wants to discuss calmly I would. She had only had 1/2 bottle of wine by that time.
She did turn it around on me a bit. While my son and I were discussing she pushed me into the room to close the door so she wouldn't have to listen to us talk about her. I reacted and told her "Don't push me"! She said this was bad behavior to model for our son. I'm not so sure! Frankly, I would hope my son would stand up to anyone who treats him in a way he doesn't like. She doesn't think she pushed me that hard.

I want to talk to S and let him know he's understood and safe. I want to hear more of his thoughts but don't want to make him feel like he's taking sides against his mom. I'm sure she would think that I'm manipulating him against her.


I've been reading a book which addresses "Nice Guy Syndrome" (which I read as male codependency).

We:
Seek the approval of others
Hide our perceived flaws and mistakes
Put other people's needs and want before our own
Sacrifice their personal power and often play the role of a victim
Tend to be disconnected from other men and from their own masculine energy
Co-create relationships that are less than satisfying

OK, here's the Pity Party-

Since I feel like a doormat so often, I feel that I'm not teaching my boys to be men. I'm just teaching them to be codependent men.

I want them to be better than me and take care of their needs.

OK, I think I'm done! I'd love any input on this. It's hard to look at it objectively. I tried to use detachment but I've got a lot more to learn!
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:18 PM
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Are you going to Al-Anon and/or counselling?

Your situation seems so hard to deal with alone.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:20 PM
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The thing that concerns me most is the fact that she is putting her hands on your son in anger. That is never good. Keeping your sons safe is the most important thing.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:24 PM
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How old is he? Maybe you could take him to an alateen meeting. Do you go to alanon? Sorry if you've already said. If alateen isn't available or if he isn't old enough, maybe counseling would help?

I'm trying really hard to be a better parent too. Awareness and making small goals for myself help. It was super hard when my active alcoholic husband was in the same house. It made parenting so difficult. I was not as 'healthy' then either as I had no recovery at that time. I created more difficulty then he did probably. Things are getting better but it requires constant awareness and willingness to try and make positive changes. I still can't touch on the inner feelings of my children, even though I've done a ton of reading and think I have some understanding. I'm getting them a counselor.

I'll be watching the thread for some wisdom!
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:34 PM
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she pushed me into the room to close the door so she wouldn't have to listen to us talk about her. I reacted and told her "Don't push me"! She said this was bad behavior to model for our son.

Typical alcoholic topsy turvy insanity: the BAD behavior here was her pushing you! Period. Standing up for yourself and saying clearly "Don't push me." is good behavior to model for your son.

No one should push us around whether we are kids or adults.

I would make a statement loud and clear to her that there will be no violence in your house - no pushing anybody!

Your son is hurting because his family is messed up and his mom is an alcoholic. Don't take it all on yourself. He is having his own experience of this life and his circumstances and this family dynamic - just like I did (except for me it was an A dad).

Have you addressed that pain directly with him?

It would have been a dream come true for me if some rational sober adult (wow if it had been my mom that would have been the jackpot!) had come to me and said: you feel this way because you are growing up in an alcoholic/codependent household. It is not your fault and here are some resources (Alateen? Books? Counseling?) to help you manage this difficult situation. But no one ever stepped up....and I was left to feel many confused and painful feelings throughout my childhood.

I totally used to lie about schoolwork, I used to lie when there was no reason to lie (a common trait in children of As). I was very smart but made decisions not in my own best interest fopr years! Did anyone, any adult, ever stop and say "Hey what IS going on with you, what is eating you?" NO!

Good luck Stepping Up -- and natch I would advise talking more and more openly w/ your children. I knew sh*t was wrong since 1st grade so why wait??

Peace-
B
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:05 PM
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stepping up - yay for involved dad parenting! you're hanging in there!
Please share the book title/author with us! I'm dying to know!
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:24 PM
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Thank you all so much! Your responses are so insightful. Once again proving the power of the group!

Yes, I'm going to Al Anon meetings whenever I can. Usually winds up being once a week. Codie me, hasn't told W that I'm going to meetings. I don't really know the best way to bring it up. I guess I'm trying to get the tools to deal with the $#!% storm that will follow. It's like I've got to get to the place where I can walk out (which I would never do to my kids) before I can just tell her that I don't like who she becomes when she drinks.

My son is 16 and I've spoken with him a number of times about what's going on in his life and in his head. He's open with me but always tells me that things are OK. I've stopped short of saying, "Gee do you think you feel this way because mom drinks?"

Thank you Bernadette, I agree that we should allow no one to push us around. If there is a next time, I'll include the statement that there will be no violence in our house. That's a very empowering statement that calls the action exactly what it is. Violence.

These are confusing times. Thank you all for your caring, support and wisdom.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FindingPeace1 View Post
stepping up - yay for involved dad parenting! you're hanging in there!
Please share the book title/author with us! I'm dying to know!
Hi FindingPeace,

The book is "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Dr. Robert Glover

It's very male-centric but it's not a book teaching men to be jerks. It's about finding out who you really are and being true to that. He says that we spent so much time seeking the approval of others (to get our needs met) that we don't form relationships based on who we really are. We hide our true selves for fear that we won't be accepted and never get our needs met.

I'm just a few chapters into the book but I feel like he's describing me exactly.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:51 PM
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SteppingUp, I know your one boy is 16, what are the genders/ages of the others?

I would like to point out that not only is pushing you violence, grabbing the boy with the nails is worse, in my opinion, he's a KID. Your wife is a bully to you and your boy.

I believe this qualifies you to make a call to the Domestic Violence hot line in your area, they may be able to help you decipher what is and is not tolerable in your home. You would definitely NOT be the first man to call them, I promise you.

I know when I was in the thick of it, there were NO DISCERNIBLE BOUNDARIES anymore. It was total chaos, and I had no idea what was right or wrong any more.

I'm right there with you on keeping the meetings on the down low to avoid the fall out. Mine accused me of having a girl friend when I began to implement small changes in the status quo.

When the CPS judge finally put my axw out of the house, my clarity improved 10 fold.

Hang in there SU, we all got your back. You are making good decisions so far.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:53 PM
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Stepping - what is really interesting is the forum! There are guys out there working on the stuff I am (in a guy way). Very interesting!
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:56 PM
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The one thing that jumps out at me is that your son is going to take more notice of what you do than what you actually say to him.

He's going to take more notice of how you handle moms violence than how you actually tell him he should handle it.

And he's going to watch how you take care of yourself and copy that too.


That isn't intended to minimise the verbalisation/chat/ talk/telling him what's what, he needs to hear that, but he also needs to see your example and he needs to see you stick to your beliefs/boundaries and see that they do actually work.

Show him how to do it as well at telling him.
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:01 PM
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Great advice, Lucy. Well said.
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by LucyA View Post
The one thing that jumps out at me is that your son is going to take more notice of what you do than what you actually say to him.

He's going to take more notice of how you handle moms violence than how you actually tell him he should handle it.

And he's going to watch how you take care of yourself and copy that too.


That isn't intended to minimise the verbalisation/chat/ talk/telling him what's what, he needs to hear that, but he also needs to see your example and he needs to see you stick to your beliefs/boundaries and see that they do actually work.

Show him how to do it as well at telling him.
Yes, he's going to notice how you take care of yourself and how you take care of HIM.

I know this is hard. The hardest thing I've ever done was to stop protecting my grown alcoholic wife, and begin to protect my child. It was my proudest moment.

The mind set of me, as a dad, being put in a position to have to protect my precious child from her own mother, was one of the hardest things I've ever had to understand.

But you know, it dawned on me, women have to do the same thing all the time. I believe it is a vastly different concept for us men to get. After all, we are protectors, we are supposed to protect our "whole" family. In the case of alcoholism we have to chose who to save.

I believe your toes are hanging over the edge right now, and it won't be very long before you make a leap of faith, I can "see" it in you.

You're a good man SteppingUp, you make me proud.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:58 PM
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Subsitute daughter for son...

...and you have my former life from 2000 to about six months ago. I left my daughter in that environment, I did not protect her from her drunken mother, and I will regret that until the day I die. Daughter started experimenting with drugs at 13, and has high level self-esteem issues mostly demonstrated by her subverting her opportunities for success and self-destructive behavior (she does the "not doing her work" thing too-- typical behavior for the child of a drunk).

If you are smarter than me you will start Al-Anon now, get a sponsor, and do the steps. If you are not smarter than me... you'll try to do everything your own way, including Al-Anon if you engage, and be shocked when it doesn't work the way you wanted it to ("If I can just get her to do it my way everything would be ok."). We make our own beds and we lie in them. Make a better bed.

Please be smarter than me. If not for you, for your son. As for your wife? She's on her own and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. She'll die with this disease or she'll find recovery, but her only chance at finding recovery is if you leave her alone, let her go, detach, go to Al-Anon, and take care of yourself so you can take care of your son (the innocent victim in this scenario).

Right now you simply provide the environment in which she can drink whenever she wants. That's what I was to my wife. Nothing more, nothing less. Turns out I'm not a hero. Turns out you can divorce wives. You can't divorce kids and I am, for better or worse, a father. I wish I had done that better.

Take what you want and leave the rest. It's all my opinion and nothing more.

Cyranoak

P.s. The whole "you are all against me" thing is typical alcoholic bull**it.

P.p.s. Never, never, never dialog with a drunk, even if it's only after one drink the damage is already done (and, by the way, "only half a bottle of wine?" Only? Are you kidding me? She's got you thinking a half a bottle in your son's presence is OK-- Good God). It's hard enough to talk to an alcoholic when they are sober. Talking to them drunk is an epic waste of time and energy with a net result that is always either null or negative.

P.p.s. Love, hope, vows, promises, etc., have no place in this scenario. Forget about them and let them go. They have all been made invalid by your powerlessness over the affects of alcohol as manifested in your drunk wife, your suffering son, and yourself.



Originally Posted by SteppingUp View Post
The other night we caught our son lying about doing his homework... again. W told him to go to bed. He turned (with a dramatic huff) and left. She didn't like his attitude and grabbed him by the arm (probably some nails involved here). He called her a bitch.

I had to step in and tell him that he can never talk to his mother like that. It is not acceptable. W grabbed his face (not hard) and went off on him about how he acts like he's entitled to everything we work so hard to give him.

I spoke with him privately. He said that he feels like she's always disappointed with him and sees him as a loser with no future. I told him that his future is whatever he wants it to be. Right now, he continues to make the same choices he's always made (not doing his work and lying about it). He's certainly capable of doing the work. But, nothing changes if nothing changes. He's got to decide he wants to do the work.

He said that he's walking on eggshells around her because he never knows when she's going to yell at him. Hey, I feel the same way!

When I told her this she started to vent. I took it personally and told her not to react. She told me to go %&#@ myself. I turned to go and said I wouldn't be spoken to that way. She went into the "O great! You're all against me! Just go upstairs and leave me down here" routine.

I told her if she wants to discuss calmly I would. She had only had 1/2 bottle of wine by that time.
She did turn it around on me a bit. While my son and I were discussing she pushed me into the room to close the door so she wouldn't have to listen to us talk about her. I reacted and told her "Don't push me"! She said this was bad behavior to model for our son. I'm not so sure! Frankly, I would hope my son would stand up to anyone who treats him in a way he doesn't like. She doesn't think she pushed me that hard.

I want to talk to S and let him know he's understood and safe. I want to hear more of his thoughts but don't want to make him feel like he's taking sides against his mom. I'm sure she would think that I'm manipulating him against her.


I've been reading a book which addresses "Nice Guy Syndrome" (which I read as male codependency).

We:
Seek the approval of others
Hide our perceived flaws and mistakes
Put other people's needs and want before our own
Sacrifice their personal power and often play the role of a victim
Tend to be disconnected from other men and from their own masculine energy
Co-create relationships that are less than satisfying

OK, here's the Pity Party-

Since I feel like a doormat so often, I feel that I'm not teaching my boys to be men. I'm just teaching them to be codependent men.

I want them to be better than me and take care of their needs.

OK, I think I'm done! I'd love any input on this. It's hard to look at it objectively. I tried to use detachment but I've got a lot more to learn!
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:11 PM
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SteppingUp,

Let me just say thank you for reminding my gut just how bad it was to grow up with an alcoholic parent. Nasty bitch that she is. Oh....pardon me....so sorry....I meant to refer to my father, nasty bitch that he was. I can't tell you how sick your post made me because it just brought back so many memories and the anger is one of them. Thank you for that, because I have been working on this anger of mine and now I think I know where it originates.

I agree with everything Coyote said above and would like to add that IMO as nasty and evil as she acts toward you, I can guarantee she acts more nasty and more evil towards the children for the simple fact that she can--they are LITTLER than you.

I'm not going to feel sorry for your kids because as an ACOA feeling sorry for people has only ever gotten me into trouble. So I am trying to change that about myself. But let me just say also that 16 is HARD ENOUGH without some drunken a$$hole grabbing you by the face and challenging you to fight. Plus, there may be some mental health issues he is suffering from that you don't know about, that result from living with an alcoholic parent.

Please call the DV people as Coyote suggested. Just because you are someone's parent does not give you the RIGHT be physically abusive. Just because it happens in the family home, to a child, and not on Saturday night in a bar downtown, to a stranger, does not mean it is not ILLEGAL.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:14 PM
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I know this is hard. The hardest thing I've ever done was to stop protecting my grown alcoholic wife, and begin to protect my child. It was my proudest moment.

Coyote you have said things like this before and every time it just blows my mind! It is such a powerful idea, such a perspective-shifting concept! I just don't think you can repeat this enough really! It lines up with "doing the next right thing" - and places the priority right where it should be.

In the case of alcoholism we have to chose who to save.


Another great point. All of this is so damned uncomfortable and painful, it is easy to see why family denial and alcoholism go hand in hand. Often the road we're on is not the one we planned, but at some point we all have to wake up and face it and find our way to acceptance and action - especially where children are involved.

from steppingup I've stopped short of saying, "Gee do you think you feel this way because mom drinks?"

Have you stopped short because of fear and the can of worms (REALITY!) this kind of conversation will open up? I can only speak for myself but when my father did quit drinking, and he recovered with the help of AA, he became this very changed and open and honest person. He spoke to me directly and made amends in regards to his drinking and all the pain it caused our family. What a huge relief and what respect I had for my dad who I once had little respect for because of his behavior.

My mom on the other hand, who denied the problem (even though it EXISTED and damaged our lives!!!!) has never been able to have an honest conversation about those years - and I have a pretty superficial relationship with her to this day. Her resentment is through the roof, but - she never CHOSE to get real with any of us. Her denial and avoidance of our pain created a chasm of mistrust that persists to this day. And she is an A-1 enabler of of my A brothers.

I know on a gut level I survived my childhood because my mother "ran a tight ship' as she likes to say. But I would have benefitted enormously from some honesty and discussion of the elephant in the living room than from the pretension (capital TENSION) of the "tight ship!"

I have forgiven her: she was terrified, and confused, and had 5 kids. But the REALITY of our relationship, to this day, is hampered by her past deep denial of reality.

So glad you're here and reaching out. I know it is scary - I just cried and shook like a leaf at my first several AlAnon meetings and when I read books and learned more and more about why I was in such pain. But from such honest suffering and soul searching comes much good and change.

Peace & gentle (((hugs)))
B
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:57 PM
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SteppingUp I'm going to post something that hasn't been said yet and will be in contradiction to other posts. I have raised three children into adulthood. However, we are no longer talking about a child, but about your 16 year old son. He's caught in that ackward stage midway between being a child and being an adult. Horomones are flying everywhere, pubity is a very confusing time. However, your job in raising him has been accomplished. He now needs a confident to help guide him and keep him on the straight and narrow.

Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II, shortly after his 17th birthday enlisted in the military. In 27 months of combat action in World War II, Murphy became the most decorated United States combat soldier in United States military history. He received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. medals, five from France, and one from Belgium.

You wrote "The other night we caught our son lying about doing his homework... again. W told him to go to bed. He turned (with a dramatic huff) and left. She didn't like his attitude and grabbed him by the arm (probably some nails involved here). He called her a bitch." I believe this was his way of setting his own boundary. Granted us in the older generation would perfer to see other ways of setting boundaries. But it wasn't physical!

After surviving motherhood, I have found the following important foundations:

1. Routine.
A reasonable routine of life’s daily essentials are important as being able to know where they are and what's expected of them makes them feel secure.

You know yourself that when you are unsure about any situation you may feel anxious etc. Kids (whatever age), know one thing for sure and that is that they are NOT in total control of their own life. However knowing what is expected of them does a lot to alleviate their anxiety, especially when they are at the age when they are ready to contribute etc.

2. Knowing the boundaries.
You might think it's a given, that they should know how far you can be pushed by now. But your son is at the age where he is going to constantly keep checking, to be sure you haven't moved the line. When you ask him to do something or tell him, explain why it has to be done and what will happen if it is not done properly or at all, right from the start.

3. Learning Consequences.
It all goes back to sticking to your guns and making good on what you say, good or bad. If he does what he's supposed to do, then he gets good consequences, if not, bad.

4. Consistency.
Very important. More often than not you have to try and remain consistent in what your rules in your house are.

Take what you like and leave the rest!

I'm sure you are more of an example for your children than what you realize!

********************************************* ******************
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:03 PM
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Ah what a wonderful thread. Thank you for talking honestly about this.
I spoke with him privately. He said that he feels like she's always disappointed with him and sees him as a loser with no future. I told him that his future is whatever he wants it to be. Right now, he continues to make the same choices he's always made (not doing his work and lying about it). He's certainly capable of doing the work. But, nothing changes if nothing changes. He's got to decide he wants to do the work.

He said that he's walking on eggshells around her because he never knows when she's going to yell at him. Hey, I feel the same way!

When I told her this she started to vent. I took it personally and told her not to react. She told me to go %&#@ myself. I turned to go and said I wouldn't be spoken to that way. She went into the "O great! You're all against me! Just go upstairs and leave me down here" routine.
Kids will and do recover, no one has it perfect that's for sure. You're becoming aware of patterns and what boundaries are necessary, which is huge. How our dysfunctional relationships affect our kids is difficult to look at sometimes, as it's way easier to just take the abuse personally. Once I saw how my kids are affected, my fear lifted enough to allow me to start taking steps toward somehow disentangling my children from the madness.

It's never perfect, but we get better, step by step.

I"m so glad you're here Steppingup. Cyranoak is right about not ever every talking to a person while they're drunk. Doing that one thing alone did more for my ability to see my life clearly than anything else.

And God Bless YOU Coyote You are consistently honest, supportive and have clarity of thought that helps me every single time.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by transformyself View Post


Kids will and do recover, no one has it perfect that's for sure.
That to me makes it all sound so trivial for the kids!

I sure as hell don't have the living with the A thing going on, and I never have, but I have his kid, and I also have 2 other kids who never lived with an A but have issues over him!

Kids may well 'bounce back' 'recover' whatever, they also see it all, from all sides, they also develop other issues as their own way of dealing.
If kids recovered all the time as easily as implied, there wouldn't be an ACOA board!
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:51 PM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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I agree Lucy. As a child, I was deeply affected by both my father's alcoholism and my mother's codependence. And still am to this day, at the tender age of 48. My therapist had a pet peeve about people saying kids are "resilient." She says they're children, not basketballs.

No parent is or can be perfect, but we can sure make things better (or worse) for our children by our actions.

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