Check out this website from Betty Ford children’s program: http://mybeamersworld.com
The children’s program is for 7-12 year olds. I don’t know if you could order the book series (my kid got the whole series from attending the program ) but it is really good. It explains addiction and also feelings (Beamer is a lightbulb and he has different colors depending on his feelings). I thought it was really good and I also think they have the books as video clips on the site (I’m on my iPad and you need adobe flash for the site so I can’t check)
I know they have the Betty Ford kids program in Cali and it looks like you live there, it actually would,be really worth it for your kids to go to their weekend program. It is 4 days long and the last couple of days parents are involved (which could just be you since your XH is till drinking). I realize cali is huge and it may not be anywhere near you but if it is doable, even if you have to travel a little ways, I think it is totally worth it. My kid was almost 7 when she went (they should be in first grade so they can read and write some ) and it was really good for her to learn about alcoholism and addiction. The Beamer books are awesome and it was really good for her to be around other kids that went though it . It cost money although you basically pay what you can afford really.
She was 6 when her dad ended up having to go to rehab (I gave him an ultimatum becuse i was done, luckily he finally was in a place where he himself was in a place where he wanted to stop which is why the ultimatum worked) and she had absolutely no clue (as did no one else) that her dad drank too much because he always hid it. He was just always tired and grumpy from work....
I finally told her the real reason he had to go to the special hospital (he was ordered to go to rehab because of his job and it all happened in less than 24 hours and was not expected so we had no time to prepare). I had found a couple of awesome books (not in English unfortunately so i can’t recommend them)l one talked about it without ever mentioning alcohol but talked about a potion that some guy was selling in town to make the adults happy but it only made them happy for a while and then they needed more and more of the potion to be happy. Once the man was chased out of town the adults got better again. The other one talked about a girl whose dad drank too much and she was always worried about how he would react, or once again dad missed a swim meet, or was grumpy and didn’t want to do anything. Once I told my kid the real reason she recognized that his behaviors were related to the alcohol.
I presented (and so did Betty Ford ) alcohol as an illness. Something in their brain makes them need alcohol and over time they need more and more and they can’t stop because their brain tells them to drink. It is something they don’t have control over and that they need help to fix it. I also told her that not everyone that drinks is like that. That I can drink 1 or 2 or even 3 drinks but then I can stop. I also don’t need or want to drink every day. But in people with an addiction problem it doesn’t work that way. They can’t stop.
You telling your kids about his alcoholism is not talking **** about him unless you say it in a mean and derogatory way (like daddy is a useless good for nothing drunk vs daddy has the alcohol disease that makes it so he cannot stop drinking). He is a drunk so not rational. I’ve been with my RAH for 16 years and he has stopped several times, the longest was a year. But it was alway a secret and no one knew about it because that way he would not have to take accountability for it. And when he relapsed no one was none the wiser (he would say he had to lose weight, his BP was too high etc while he quit drinking for a while).
Your kids need to know what is going on, they more than likely already know and are probably coming up with their own versions of what is happening. It is much better that they know the truth. It is probably less scary than the scenarios they come up with. They need to know for their own safety since they spend time with their AF. In the long run they will be much better off knowing. It will help them understand the dysfunction. Hiding it is going to backfire and they will grow up with the dysfunction that will continue to follow them the rest of their lives. Better that they understand now why their dad acts the way he does (because he has the alcohol disease and not because he is an ass.....even though he may be ) and that it is not normal. Of course he doesn’t want you to tell them his secret because that makes him look bad, what he doesn’t realize is that he is doing an awesome job of that himself more than likely through his actions, actions speak louder than words after all.
If at all possible, go to the Betty Ford kids program with them, if not at least check out the Beamer books. My kid won’t talk to her friends about her dads addiction because she says they don’t understand addiction (which is true). So t was nice for her to be around other kids. They also have follow up weekends every couple of months for the kids that have npbeennto thr program and my kid always enjoys it. I feel like it has also helped her talk about hard stuff more.