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How it impacts the kids to stay w an A

Old 11-24-2013, 04:36 PM
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Thanks everyone for an incredible thread. I am an ACOA and a recovered A, every single one of us kids became alcoholics. I have no idea if it was nature or nurture: my family has so much alcoholism carried down through each generation I truly consider the genetic theory, among others. It sometimes feels, rather depressingly, that someone who isn't an alcoholic in my family is the exception!

I always wonder how we could have become alcoholics when we hated the family dynamic so much, hated our fathers drinking so much, and I myself swore up and down I would never be like him. Well, I became like him.
I'm not mentioning this to claim that children who stay with an active alcoholic parent will become alcoholics, but I think it is a risk to consider. It sure seems to have been the case with my family.
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:48 AM
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Ditto to everything Lillamy said... It is HELL for me to leave the girls with their dad. I worry each time. I feel physical pain like something is being pressed down on my chest and I am miserable for the day and night that the girls are with him... It is harder than anything I have ever or probably will ever do. And knowing how awful if would be I stayed, selfishly so that I would not have to be without the girls for many many years. Yes I was protecting them from the very real concerns I have when they are alone with him but I was protecting my heart too because it is horribly painful to have to not be with ones own kids.

And my therapist and the girls therapist told me as Lillamy said hers did too, that it was better the girls have 6 calm days and 1 hellish one than to live with uncertainty and stress etc... 7 days a week which is what they had when I was with their dad. Even when there was no fighting at all-- just his presence made everyone tense...

So I was told that by people in the field and by many of you here many many many times and I did not want to believe it or couldn't believe it until I was ready... Unfortunately my kids paid the price for my being uncomfortable accepting that hard truth and it will be many years if ever before I can forgive myself for taking away years of their childhoods...

Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I can tell you a few years out that my children are so much better off without their father in their lives.

I can also tell you that the first couple of years when they were court-ordered to spend time with him were sheer hell. My therapist ensured me that it was better for them to have one stable, healthy home even if they were forced to spend time with AXH in a very unhealthy one as well. I sure as hell didn't feel it when I had to send them there, when they would call crying, and when he would refuse to let them leave because He Had A Right To Have His Children.

I still get anxious just typing about it.

The only thing I regret in relation to my children is NOT LEAVING THEIR FATHER SOONER.

We can tell ourselves all those things WTBH said. But the truth is you can't recover from living with a pathological circumstance while you're still living in it - especially if you're a child.

I left when I was able. I know that. Even so, even thinking that I have forgiven myself for not being able sooner, there are times when the guilt is overwhelming. I cried myself to sleep last night after a standoff with one of my teens where she behaved like a carbon copy of her A father.

I hate myself for choosing an addict for a father for them. They were forced to grow up too fast. And i wish I had left years earlier than I did.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:07 AM
  # 83 (permalink)  
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My state mandates an almost 50/50 split of time, and the custody laws don't protect children from spending a great deal with an alcoholic unless the alcoholic harms them.

I do worry every time a long visit comes up (as with Thanksgiving) and wish courts and legislatures could see the long-term damage they do by forcing children to spend so much time with a parent who is unstable, unhealthy, and unloving.

Thanks for starting this thread. I pray for safety and comfort of all our children and stable parents this week.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:22 AM
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My state too.

I think its a courts attempt to speed up divorces to do it this way since there's less haggle room for custody matters. It sure as hell isn't a decision made considering the best interest of kids.

Negotiating custody out of court has worked a lot better for me bc this way we have a lot more say than if a judge arbitrarily doles out 50/50.

Originally Posted by peaceofpi View Post
My state mandates an almost 50/50 split of time, and the custody laws don't protect children from spending a great deal with an alcoholic unless the alcoholic harms them.

I do worry every time a long visit comes up (as with Thanksgiving) and wish courts and legislatures could see the long-term damage they do by forcing children to spend so much time with a parent who is unstable, unhealthy, and unloving.

Thanks for starting this thread. I pray for safety and comfort of all our children and stable parents this week.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:41 AM
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Yes, I negotiated a better deal too (one fewer overnight plus no drinking when with child). Still not the best interest of the child...

I appreciate Hammer's posting of the ACE study. I would like to find any studies or hear any ACOA thoughts on impact of children who spend time with the alcoholic joint custodial parent. I know it was better to divorce than keep a young child in 7-day-a-week alcoholic home and assume the long-term impact is healthier. My child is in therapy, but I would appreciate any ideas on what I can do to help.
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Old 12-03-2013, 01:30 PM
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Thank you all so so much for your responses and this thread!! After almost a year of struggling I am finally at peace with my decision to leave. I think I have reached an epiphany!!!

I was so worried about how it would affect the kids, not being able to protect them, him drinking and driving with them etc etc etc. I failed to see how my resentment and repressed anger toward ADH is already affecting them. How toxic our house already is. I am the one that is short fused, gets angry easily and lashes out more than I should. Especially when I am left to deal with everything in the household. He is just unavailable to them and me most of the time. I am the sick one as a codie and I know it will affect them as they grow older.

I am planning to file after the holidays. I too am a planner and have decided to just LET GO. I will not plan who will move where or stress about the details. I will fight to the best of my ability to get the strongest parenting plan and whatever will be, will be. I will do my best to establish a safe and peaceful home for the kids that is free from anger and resentment. I now realize I have to take care of me first to better take care of them.
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:16 PM
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I do agree with all those who said that you will know when it's time, when you've had enough.

But the kids are I think better off out of the atmosphere if possible.

My daughter is in college and encountering her first social life (she went to a small high school). In this new social life she has encountered mean girls for the first time, including a drama queen who is emotionally abusive.

Yes, my daughter identified all this. But she also sat on my couch and cried because she couldn't let go of this "friend"... Because of her emotional baggage from her father, and at the same time being angry with herself for putting up with the friend's behaviour.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:51 PM
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I am seeing this exact same thing in myself. Same plan. Thank you for sharing this, it has helped me immensely..


QUOTE=unsureoffuture;4326450]Thank you all so so much for your responses and this thread!! After almost a year of struggling I am finally at peace with my decision to leave. I think I have reached an epiphany!!!

I was so worried about how it would affect the kids, not being able to protect them, him drinking and driving with them etc etc etc. I failed to see how my resentment and repressed anger toward ADH is already affecting them. How toxic our house already is. I am the one that is short fused, gets angry easily and lashes out more than I should. Especially when I am left to deal with everything in the household. He is just unavailable to them and me most of the time. I am the sick one as a codie and I know it will affect them as they grow older.

I am planning to file after the holidays. I too am a planner and have decided to just LET GO. I will not plan who will move where or stress about the details. I will fight to the best of my ability to get the strongest parenting plan and whatever will be, will be. I will do my best to establish a safe and peaceful home for the kids that is free from anger and resentment. I now realize I have to take care of me first to better take care of them.[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:00 AM
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Terrified...

My AH doesn't ever get drunk in front of the kids, it's always when they're in bed or he's out of the house. I hadn't even considered the impact his drinking has on them because in my head they were removed from the situation. Over the past few months though, I've noticed that the older ones behaviour around AH is entirely different from what it is around just me. He goes from this sweet little child to an out-of-control kid that is constantly misbehaving. It drives me batty! It's adding to my feeling of just not wanting AH around. He (my son) has started telling AH he doesn't like him on a daily basis too. I'm starting to see that maybe this is all a reflection of the alcohol, in a more indirect way. AH is always tired, hungover or keeping himself busy to avoid drinking while the kids are awake. His attention is actually on the kids in very short bursts. More than that though, I can see now that my son is likely responding to the tension that I'm holding. I've cut off a lot of emotion with AH in order to stay sane, and I think my son is following suit. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to damage my kids! This is terrifying me.
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:39 AM
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My eight year old said very casually the other day to my husband, "I am sure mom thinks marrying you is the worst mistake she has ever made."

Wow....I have never ever said anything like this to them. I don't bad mouth him or speak ill of him to my children. This is something she has picked up on herself. It made me very sad.
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by hopeful4 View Post
My eight year old said very casually the other day to my husband, "I am sure mom thinks marrying you is the worst mistake she has ever made."

Wow....I have never ever said anything like this to them. I don't bad mouth him or speak ill of him to my children. This is something she has picked up on herself. It made me very sad.
Wow. What was your husband's reaction, hopeful?
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:09 AM
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He did not really say much. I stepped in and said that was not true to my daughter. He looked very sad as he knows that the only positive thing that has come from our marriage is our children.

I actually just called him and told him in the very near future we are going to have to sit down and discuss the future because I plan on separating after the holidays. He thinks I am pulling some power trip which I assured him I am not. I told him that we both have children we love more than anything in the world and that I hope we can both act like adults and remember we have to coparent the kids for the rest of their lives and I for one don't want to do that down each others throats.

We shall see.


Originally Posted by JustAGirl1971 View Post
Wow. What was your husband's reaction, hopeful?
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:12 AM
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I'm sorry, hopeful, I know this is painful. I'm right there with you. It sounds like you handled both your daughter's comment and the recent discussion really well. I told my husband that I thought we'd both be better off apart yesterday, too. Like yours, I think mine just thinks I have a hidden agenda.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:31 AM
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My state mandates an almost 50/50 split of time, and the custody laws don't protect children from spending a great deal with an alcoholic unless the alcoholic harms them.
It is positively infuriating. Lawmakers simply do knot now how the sheer experience of LIVING with an alcoholic is harmful. We need to educate them so that the next generation doesn't have to fight the same fight we do.

And then again, as my attorney tries to remind me, there are bad eggs there spoiling it for the good ones. As an example -- he said in 75% of the custody cases he sees, one parent will claim either that the other parent is an alcoholic or that s/he has sexually molested the children. The truth usually comes out -- but it takes time. And during that time, the accusing parent usually has sole custody. And so by the time it gets cleared up that there really is no addiction or sexual abuse, it's already been established that the kids are solidly and comfortably with one parent.

Those false accusations create hell for those of us whose exes ARE alcoholics and/or sexually abusive. Because the bar to prove that is set so much higher because people lie about it.

Also, because there are parents that deliberately try to manipulate their children into hating the other parents, courts don't listen to children. Depending on state, kids usually have some sort of say when they're between 14 and 16. But because there are parents who USE their children to badmouth the other parent, most lawyers don't even want to touch testimony from a kid.

My lawyer keeps saying "Trust the system. The system works." I told him to me, the judicial system is sort of like the karma bus: I do trust that it works, but it's sure running on another time table than I'd like it to…
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Justwantnormal View Post
My AH doesn't ever get drunk in front of the kids, it's always when they're in bed or he's out of the house. I hadn't even considered the impact his drinking has on them because in my head they were removed from the situation. Over the past few months though, I've noticed that the older ones behaviour around AH is entirely different from what it is around just me. He goes from this sweet little child to an out-of-control kid that is constantly misbehaving. It drives me batty! It's adding to my feeling of just not wanting AH around. He (my son) has started telling AH he doesn't like him on a daily basis too. I'm starting to see that maybe this is all a reflection of the alcohol, in a more indirect way. AH is always tired, hungover or keeping himself busy to avoid drinking while the kids are awake. His attention is actually on the kids in very short bursts. More than that though, I can see now that my son is likely responding to the tension that I'm holding. I've cut off a lot of emotion with AH in order to stay sane, and I think my son is following suit. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to damage my kids! This is terrifying me.

Mine used to do that too, wait until the kids were asleep but then it progressed to a glass of wine at dinner and then hiding it from us by going to the garage to get something and now going fishing and exvuse to drink. So even though he is not really drinking in front of them, it is affecting them. I didnt think it affected the kids either because he is not a beligerent or aggressive drunk. he is the reclusive closet drinker. We dont have the aggressiveness or fighting in our house that others do. We have the opposite, distance-no affection and living like roomates. So I thought "well certainly then my situation is different and the kids arents as affected because we dont fight". I should sacrifice my happness for the well-being of the kids. What they do see though is a father that is marginally involved because he is hung over, drinking, thinking about drinking, too tired, too whatever etc etc etc and a mom who is angry and resentful struggling to be both a mom and dad because she cant depend on her husband. There is alot of unspoken tension in our house. On the outside we look like the perfect family. I have now realized it is affecting them. They are not seeing what a true partnership/marriage is and should be. I dont want them to grow up and hate me because I was "sick one" who lashed out too much. I do see now that being in a peacefull environment 5 days a week is healthier than a toxic one 7 days a week. My almost 5 year-old is also a behavior problem lately and I do think it is stemming from the anxiety/tension he sees in our house.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by hopeful4 View Post
My eight year old said very casually the other day to my husband, "I am sure mom thinks marrying you is the worst mistake she has ever made."

Wow....I have never ever said anything like this to them. I don't bad mouth him or speak ill of him to my children. This is something she has picked up on herself. It made me very sad.
That is sad. They are very perceptive.

My 8 year-old said to me once when I was angry and short fused "wow, mom why did you even have kids if you didnt want them" Huge wake up call for me. That was when I first found soberrecovery and Al-anon a year ago. I knew I was falling off the deep end trying to cope with it all.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:21 AM
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I would not go along with the court custody agreement if it meant placing small children in harms way with a dangerous alcoholic. Thankfully, in my state, the court does not always do the 50/50 split with custody.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:32 AM
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My attorney says he will get every other wed and every other weekend. This is the reason I have not left...yet.

As my friend said, if I would not obey the order he would have to take me back to court, not likely at all as going in a courtroom sends him into an anxiety orbit. That being said, I don't want to take his kids away, I just want him to be sober with them. He is a binge drinker and definitely does not drink daily, so I think it is possible...I hope it is possible...I am tired of this life.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by hopeful4 View Post
My attorney says he will get every other wed and every other weekend. This is the reason I have not left...yet.

As my friend said, if I would not obey the order he would have to take me back to court, not likely at all as going in a courtroom sends him into an anxiety orbit. That being said, I don't want to take his kids away, I just want him to be sober with them. He is a binge drinker and definitely does not drink daily, so I think it is possible...I hope it is possible...I am tired of this life.
My attorney says the same. It will be 50/50 since there are no arrests dui's etc. Virtually no proof. I live in a 50/50 custody state. That is why I haven't left yet too. My ADH drinks daily and secretly which is even worse because he hides it so we never know how much or when. It's tough and I waver back and forth, go or stay, what is better for the kids. What I have realized is if I stay nothing will change and there is no hope. If I leave, as tough as it is, at least there is hope that one day I will be living in a happy, peaceful and healthy household. He is not going to change with the way things are and I am not even sure he is able to change. At least if I leave there is a small smigeon of hope that it will be enough that he will decide to get sober. And I know that once the sadness and fog lifts, I can be happier.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by unsureoffuture View Post
Mine used to do that too, wait until the kids were asleep but then it progressed to a glass of wine at dinner and then hiding it from us by going to the garage to get something and now going fishing and exvuse to drink. So even though he is not really drinking in front of them, it is affecting them. I didnt think it affected the kids either because he is not a beligerent or aggressive drunk. he is the reclusive closet drinker. We dont have the aggressiveness or fighting in our house that others do. We have the opposite, distance-no affection and living like roomates. So I thought "well certainly then my situation is different and the kids arents as affected because we dont fight". I should sacrifice my happness for the well-being of the kids. What they do see though is a father that is marginally involved because he is hung over, drinking, thinking about drinking, too tired, too whatever etc etc etc and a mom who is angry and resentful struggling to be both a mom and dad because she cant depend on her husband. There is alot of unspoken tension in our house. On the outside we look like the perfect family. I have now realized it is affecting them. They are not seeing what a true partnership/marriage is and should be. I dont want them to grow up and hate me because I was "sick one" who lashed out too much. I do see now that being in a peacefull environment 5 days a week is healthier than a toxic one 7 days a week. My almost 5 year-old is also a behavior problem lately and I do think it is stemming from the anxiety/tension he sees in our house.
Your whole comment hits home hard with me Unsureoffuture It has started progressing to a glass of wine at dinner. I can very clearly see things getting worse. I think I've significantly underestimated the impact of that 'unspoken tension' on the kids. They see it and even if they didn't, you're right in that they're also affected by NOT seeing what a healthy marriage is. I too find myself occasionally snapping with my kids and it absolutely breaks my heart. That's not who I am! I feel like the worse he gets, the farther I drift from myself.
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