Coping With an Alcoholic Child: Advice for Parents

Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parents wants to see their children grow up to be proud, ambitious, healthy, and successful. Every parent wants a better life for their kids, than they had for themselves. This is why having a child who is struggling with alcoholism can be so difficult. Parents will stay up at night worrying, they’ll blame themselves, they’ll even break down and enable this behavior sometimes. Helping parents to help their children to overcome an alcohol addiction is a big focus of this website, but this particulate page that you’re on right now is about helping you to cope with an alcoholic child. It’s easy to lose sight of your own well-being, but you have to take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.

Depending on how long this has been going on for, you may just be starting to realize your child is an alcoholic, or it could be something you’ve been dealing with for months, years, or even decades in some cases.

Please take note that we’re using the word ‘child’ here but we’re referring to your offspring, they can be any age. Dealing with a drinking problem with a minor, or someone who’s an adult, can be different – but the impact on the parents can be quite similar, so that’s our focus right now.

Tips For Coping With an Alcoholic Child

Here is some general advice to start with, please keep these things in mind, first and foremost.

Don’t beat yourself up over it: A parent has a huge influence on their children, but you aren’t the only influence. If you are blaming yourself for all of your child’s struggles, you’re taking away their agency to make their own decisions (both good and bad.) You need to be strong, so that you can be strong for them.

Ask yourself if you need help: Are you, yourself, an alcoholic? Some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism. that doesn’t mean that everybody with these genes is going to be an alcoholic, or that only people with those genes are going to be an alcoholic, it just means that certain generic makeups can make someone more likely to fall into the trap of alcoholic. If your child is abusing alcohol, it’s probably worth turning the mirror on yourself and analyzing your own habits and patterns with alcohol.

Unconditional love can still be tough love: We’ve seen many parents who end up enabling their children’s addictions, even if it’s unintentional. Of course, it’s almost always unintentional, but do intentions really matter when the result is the same? You have to learn how to handle things so that you aren’t enabling them to further hurt themselves, and sometimes that means tough love. But remember – tough love is still love. While in the midst of an addiction, some people won’t seem like themselves anymore. Depending on how bad it gets, they may try to manipulate you, take advantage of your love, or even steal from you.

Seek professional assistance: You don’t have to do all of this on your own, in fact you probably aren’t equipped to. There are professionals including rehab specialists and mental health professionals, and even doctors and nurses in more severe cases of alcoholism, who are trained to deal with these types of things. Your job is to be a parent, not to be a doctor or a psychiatrist or a therapy or to operate a rehab clinic. As a parent, you may find yourself wanting to step up and wear all of these hats, but even if you do have training in any of their fields, sometimes it really takes an outside’s perspective. You simply can’t treat your own family, even if you’re a professional, but you probably know that already.

Find A Support Group / Meetings For Parents of an Alcoholic

Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs aren’t just for alcoholics, there are meetings and groups that are for the parents, spouses, friends, and other people who are close to an alcoholic. These meetings will remind you that you’re not alone in this struggle, and they will help equip you to not only deal with the alcoholism of your loved one in order to help them get the help they need, but these meetings and groups will also help you to cope with your child’s alcoholism.

Don’t Give Up

It’s okay if you need to step back a little bit and you find yourself totally exhausted, frustrated, confused, insulted, and at your wit’s end. But don’t give up on them. They need you. That doesn’t mean they’re entitled to 100% of your time and energy, especially when it feels like they aren’t trying to help themselves, but it does mean that – in a healthy capacity – every child needs their parent.

You’re probably not a perfect person who has never made a mistake. You’ve probably done things that haven’t helped the situation. You have to forgive yourself, and you have to understand that this is a rough road. You need to accept these things if they are true, just like your alcoholic child needs to accept that they have made mistakes, they have done things that aren’t good, they have hurt themselves and they have hurt other people, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of love, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of recovery.

We’re Glad You’re Here…

The fact that you’re here means you are searching for answers, and not just trying to wing it. That’s important. This is going to be a difficult journey, and it probably already has been so far. It might not get easier right away, but we want to help equip you with the knowledge and resources that you need to help your child.

Things To Remember About Your Child’s Alcoholism…

Some of these are not going to be things that you want to hear, but our job isn’t to tell you want you want to hear. Our job is to tell you what you need to hear.

It’s not going to be easy: This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even once you’ve reached out to find support groups, professional help, and done all the right things, you don’t have an easy road ahead of you. But guess what? It’s much better than the alternative.

There will be setbacks: Some days you’ll take one step forward and two steps back, that’s just part of it. Don’t think of it as a linear path towards recovery, it’s not a straight line. It’s a messy, confusing, zig-zagging tangled mess but the end-goal of recovery is always worth the pursuit.

You will get frustrated: Even once your child starts making some progress, it’s entirely possible that they’ll experience setbacks. They might relapse, and you might be feeling so frustrated if that happens. If you’ve invested time, money, and hope – and you feel like it’s been slashed – it can be very, very frustrating. However bad you feel about it, your child probably feels just as bad, or worse. They’ll feel like they’ve let you down, and that can be a crushing burden for them to carry.

It’s an on-going process: There may not be a day where you wake up and suddenly, your child is 100% recovery with 0 chance of ever drinking again. That’s an unrealistic goal. We believe in trying to reduce the harm as much as possible. If they’re currently getting blackout drunk on a regular basis, ruining their relationships, careers, etc and that can be reduced to living mostly sober and an occasional relapse – which situation would you prefer? It’s better to try than to not try, but expecting complete perfect is unrealistic. It’s about helping your child find a better life, dealing with the underlaying issues that are causing them to drink, and making sure that each year is better than the previous.

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