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Thinking of taking my 9 year old to Alateen...

Old 03-04-2011, 12:57 PM
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Thinking of taking my 9 year old to Alateen...

Hello everybody. I just posted this in the newcomers forum but it was wisely suggested that I post it here. I am an alcoholic mother very new to recovery in AA.

Last night I came across some literature about Alateen. On Tuesday nights there is a pre-teen meeting in the evenings for 4-11 year olds. My daughter is almost 10. My gut is telling me this is a very good idea. On the recent drama, I have encouraged my daughter to not talk about it with friends at school. Yes, this is for me, but also for her too. I don't want any judgments being made about me so that parents might not want their kids coming over. I never drank when kids were here anyway ('cept mine). Anyway, I do feel a wrongness in asking her to keep a secret that is as much her truth as it is mine. I like the idea of her being able to talk to other kids who share similar experiences.

But also I question it too. I can't imagine 4 year olds interacting in a group with 11 year olds. I guess I have to go and find out. Another mom in one of my meetings is thinking about bringing her kids too.

Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:05 PM
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I didn't even know they had meetings for kids that age. They do not have them around here.

If there was one here I'd take my kids though - 100% certain I would. They are 4yo, 9yo, and 11yo. I would assume it is a lot of play and art therapy type stuff. We used to have a group for kids that age surrounding divorce and that is what it was like. They didn't do it last year but will send mine if they do it again this summer.
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:16 PM
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I think it'll probably great for her to have her own place to 'recover' and learn.. I'm interested in what the 'curriculum' or activities would be for kiddos that young.

I'm a little more concerned with the secrets keeping part.. that's a hell of a lot of burden to place on that little head of hers.. and really not her responsibility to protect you in regards to your alcoholism. That brings her into your alcoholic 'web' and really places her in a position she shouldn't be in.

Please don't let that prevent you from taking her. Even if she did tell people (she probably wont, because she will probably feel embarrassed about it, and i'm not saying that to be mean, but I grew up in an alcoholic/addict home and trust me, I did my own covering up and lying without even being asked to, soley based on how ashamed I was of the reality of what was going on), wouldn't you rather be known for doing something that will save your life and your spirit, instead of the lady with the drinking problem that did nothing about it?
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by smacked View Post
I'm a little more concerned with the secrets keeping part.. that's a hell of a lot of burden to place on that little head of hers.. and really not her responsibility to protect you in regards to your alcoholism. That brings her into your alcoholic 'web' and really places her in a position she shouldn't be in.

Please don't let that prevent you from taking her. Even if she did tell people (she probably wont, because she will probably feel embarrassed about it, and i'm not saying that to be mean, but I grew up in an alcoholic/addict home and trust me, I did my own covering up and lying without even being asked to, soley based on how ashamed I was of the reality of what was going on), wouldn't you rather be known for doing something that will save your life and your spirit, instead of the lady with the drinking problem that did nothing about it?
Smacked, with all due respect I wonder if you were just quick to reply before you read my post. The "secret" I asked her to keep was over one incident. Not everything in her life. Are there not personal family matters that are fair to be kept within the family and/or close friends? But that said, I think I also made it clear that I am also concerned about how that might affect her. I think I said I wanted her to be in a place where she would feel free to talk about anything. I have zero fear of anything she wanted to share at a meeting if it is anything like AA has been for me. My daughter isn't like how you were. She's a talker. No doubt she'll share in meetings.

This was the purpose of my post. To make sure she has the opportunity to share and deal with her truth.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:21 PM
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I think its a great idea for her to go - she will be able to meet new friends and be in a place where hopefully she will be able to talk about things that are going on. My son is 4 and hopefully he isn't aware of my situ but if he was and older (I do think 4 is too young for groups) I would look at taking him
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:31 PM
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I did actually read your whole post, but thanks for the response back. I don't operate well on 'knee jerk' reactions 'round here. Gets me in trouble

I think it sucks to ask children to keep secrets, especially when it comes to addiction. I'm a double 'winner'.. I am an alcoholic and codependent in recovery. Well hell, I'm also ACOA I suppose considering the addiction fueled asylum I was raised in. I just think it can really get sticky when children are covering up for their own parents' issues. That (to me) breeds some serious codependent/enabling beginnings. However, that's your call as a parent..we all raise our children as best we can, and the way we prefer to.

I hope it goes well.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by NewStart11 View Post
I think its a great idea for her to go - she will be able to meet new friends and be in a place where hopefully she will be able to talk about things that are going on. My son is 4 and hopefully he isn't aware of my situ but if he was and older (I do think 4 is too young for groups) I would look at taking him
I'm actually looking forward to taking a peek at the ages of the kids in the room. 4 does seem young. But my daughter's father died when she had just turned 4 and I was shocked at how articulate she was about her pain during that time. I hate it when people tell me "children are resilient". Absolutely hate that term. Their NOT. They just do what we do. They cope with the good and the bad to the best of their ability. My daughter wasn't especially strong because her father died. She just had to deal with it the best she could. We did grief support and it was very good for her. I think Alateen will be too. I just am curious about how the format works with minors so little in the room.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:34 PM
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Right off the cuff I say yeah great -

but -
does she want to try something like that?

I know most of the kids I know
who were raised in and around the program
are pretty dang well adjusted
or they're off the complete other end of the scale.

I also know of a LOT of people
who wish they'd had something similar to go to
when they were that age.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by smacked View Post
I just think it can really get sticky when children are covering up for their own parents' issues. That (to me) breeds some serious codependent/enabling beginnings.
I don't think we're in disagreement here on this.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by barb dwyer View Post
Right off the cuff I say yeah great -

but -
does she want to try something like that?

I know most of the kids I know
who were raised in and around the program
are pretty dang well adjusted
or they're off the complete other end of the scale.

I also know of a LOT of people
who wish they'd had something similar to go to
when they were that age.
Interesting question. I'm very new to AA, but really embracing it. My daughter is a "talker" and a "sharer". We have had some brutally honest conversations recently. She's only 9 and I know if I ask her if she would like to go, she'd say yes. But if she didn't want to, she'd tell me. I just never new they had groups so young. I just got off of the phone with my sponsor and there is a meeting we go to on Mondays. Lots of sobriety in that room and she says a lot of the kids of the alcoholics in that room grew up in Alateen. That is so encouraging to me. I just still can't wrap my brain around the 12 steps and a 4 year old.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:44 PM
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She's only 9 and I know if I ask her if she would like to go, she'd say yes. But if she didn't want to, she'd tell me.
there it is.

that'ss what I was trying to ask.
at 9 -
there's a huge difference between being asked if
something might be interesting
and being told
you're going to do something.

Personally-
I've met several AlaTeen products -
and they're really aware humans.

I especially like their stories at roundups.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by barb dwyer View Post
I especially like their stories at roundups.
What are round ups? Clearly new I am.
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:07 AM
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First, I really want to commend you for recognizing that, like you, your daughter needs help.

I can only speak of my own experiences, and what - looking back - I wish had been done for me. I've never been to Alateen. My AF threw the word around right after he got out of rehab, but I never went. Could have been because I never said I wanted to go. I WAS hurting. I DID want to go, but there were a lot of things which stood in the way of me saying yes, please take me.

I was scared, and I had spent so long with my brain screaming 'DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT' that the whole idea made me nauseous. I wanted to be strong - I needed to be strong - and wanting help made me weak, in my eyes. It also felt like if I admitted how messed up his drinking had made me, that would lay additional guilt on HIM. What if he thought I hated him for what he did? What if that pushed him back into a bar? What if my friends found out I was in therapy? Would they think I was crazy?

Even back then, I recognized that I really wanted to go, to talk to someone, but I couldn't bring myself to say yes. I wish someone would have just taken me, so I didn't have to bear the weight of that decision - and would have had an out if someone found out. (My mom is making me go, it's not because there's something wrong with me.)

I didn't get help until I was in college, when the eating disorder I had been using to cope for the last six years nearly pushed me off the edge. It's taken 2 years of one on one therapy to sort through the mess I made.

It's likely that your daughter hasn't learned proper, safe coping skills. Make sure she gets them, definitely before the hormones hit. Even well-adjusted teens are irrational idiots.

Alateen is a good idea, imo. Or get her a counselor to see, someone that KNOWS about alcoholism. She's young and it will be easier to fix anything now, before her beliefs are set in stone.


Originally Posted by Inafishbowl View Post
On the recent drama, I have encouraged my daughter to not talk about it with friends at school. Yes, this is for me, but also for her too. I don't want any judgments being made about me so that parents might not want their kids coming over.

Like smacked, this bit from your post concerned me. If you're asking her not to talk about a certain incident, I can guarantee that she needs to. She probably needed to before the subject was brought up, but it's like being told not to think about elephants; now elephants are the only thing on your mind. It's just one time now, but it's a slippery slope...She'll start keeping more and more things in, wanting to protect you from her friends and their parents. Not wanting anyone to think bad things about you, lying to herself and others. Codependency in a nutshell.

I understand and really respect your desire to not make her suffer and lose friends. But I urge you to be extremely careful about censoring her on this. And definitely give her an outlet, someone neutral, to talk to about it.
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:13 AM
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A round up is an AA event
with 24hr a day meetings
speakers
(that's from not only AA
but from Alanon and Alateen)
usually a dance or some kind of social

basically its a weekend full of AA stuff.

they're great fun!
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:15 AM
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they're great fun!
x2!

I went to a round up in Germany, one of the best times of my sober life.
Great people, lotsa talk, good times.

Beth
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:44 AM
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I took my daughter to alateen when she was 10

...and five years later I'm very glad I did. Please note that some alateen programs won't allow children that young, or will unless the child demonstrates they can't interact in the group. I'd encourage you, however, to try it.

That said, and this is a considered response not a knee jerk reaction, I'm afraid I agree with Smacked that even the one "secret or incident" is not helpful. The damage wrought in my family because of the "personal family matters" idea has been considerable, and it starts with one and only one secret. It also makes it the child's "fault" if they accidentally say something or even choose to do so. It's not the child's fault. It's the alcoholic's fault no matter what. Again, I say this with all due respect.

Again, so there is no misunderstanding about this, I believe it is wrong to ask the child to keep any secrets for any reason. They aren't the problem, the parents are the problem. With all due respect, I reject completely the idea of what happens within the family stays within the family. This is based on many years of experience, and many years of "just one secret."

Pretty soon, the just one secret is being kept from you. And then you discover the hard way exactly how much damage can be done with just one secret. My daughter has the long term damage to prove it. I wish she hadn't kept the secret from me.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak


Originally Posted by Inafishbowl View Post
Smacked, with all due respect I wonder if you were just quick to reply before you read my post. The "secret" I asked her to keep was over one incident. Not everything in her life. But that said, I think I also made it clear that I am also concerned about how that might affect her. I think I said I wanted her to be in a place where she would feel free to talk about anything. I have zero fear of anything she wanted to share at a meeting if it is anything like AA has been for me. My daughter isn't like how you were. She's a talker. No doubt she'll share in meetings.

This was the purpose of my post. To make sure she has the opportunity to share and deal with her truth.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:29 PM
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It took much longer for me to forgive my mother for forbidding me from talking about it than it did for me to make peace with my father's behavior.

Cyranoak's comment about it becoming the child's fault is spot on. Even if you are able to not blame her, she will blame herself if she slips up. And if you have to face repercussions for what you did because of it, that's her fault too. Using an extreme example, if she tells someone the secret and you are arrested because of what you did under the influence, it's her fault that you're in jail. That you did something illegal doesn't matter. She's destroyed her family. If she could have only kept her mouth shut, everything would have been fine. She's ruined everything.

It's a really toxic way of thinking, and it's disturbingly easy to slip into.
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Old 03-05-2011, 01:26 PM
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we are as sick as the secrets we keep.

dont remember where i heard this, but it is especially true for me.
my father had me lie to the military police about something he did.
maybe to him it was a small thing, but it has stayed with me since I was 8 years old.
I will be 52 next month.
Just my experience.

Also, when I started saying out loud, "I am an alcoholic", I was giddy with relief.
Now, all the secrets could come out. My secrets.

Beth
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:18 PM
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Hey. I realize I'm in the wrong forum here. I just really wanted to hear about any Alateen experiences.
I do want to clarify. "The big old secret", I only asked my daughter to keep away from her new school. She has a very large support system here with friends and family and cousins. She knows she has a lot of people who support her and she has a lot of people to talk to.

And yes, while I do see your point that secrets are very bad. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to ask her to keep it away from the school yard. I've never told her to keep it within the confines of the home. That's not what I meant by family business. I agree with you, that it is important that she not feel isolated with the secret. That's why I came here. But if you're telling me that she should be able to tell everybody anything that she wants, I wholeheartedly disagree. I know this is a sensative topic, but discretion is not a horrible lesson for kids to learn. If her father had cancer, If I had had a miscarriage or if we were declaring bankruptcy, I would feel the same way. I'm very open with my daughter and very much concerned for her well being. I have always encouraged her to talk to people, not just me.

Our whole family is struggling right now with something that I did. I didn't abuse her or hit her. But I said horrible things to her that I have never said in my whole life. That is my bottom and I am sick about it. But up until this particular day my house has, although not been perfect, far from an asylum.

I should know better than to be defensive here. I do appreciate your comments and I am paying attention to them. Today, I am doing the best I can.
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:19 PM
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I'm with the others re asking kids to keep secrets (I didn't grow up in an alcoholic household and my kids didn't live with me, and from their accounts were not aware of drinking issues when they were young, so I don't really have an opinion about Alateen, except that she should only go if she wants to).

I HAVE known many people who were scarred by having to keep family secrets, though. Kids should be able to confide anything to their friends. After all, if some "trusted" adult made inappropriate contact with her, would you want her to feel compelled to keep it a secret just because the adult asked her to?

You might want to tell her that when you said that, you were really worried about embarrassing yourself, and that it's not her responsibility to keep secrets from her friends.
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