How should we act when the parents of our grandchildren are alcoholics? As grandparents it can be difficult to quit being enablers because we feel that our actions will directly effect the grandchildren. This is a tough situation to be faced with.
We want the best for the kids. Therefore, it’s possible to continue to provide things for the family in order to reduce the suffering that the grand-kids have to endure. This can often be a very troubling situation. It’s better known as a “catch twenty two” or “being caught between a rock and a hard place.” An alcoholic situation involving grandchildren needs to be handled just like any other instance where alcoholism is present in the family.
A close friend of mine has a daughter who is an alcoholic. She is divorced and has three children. The grandmother (my friend) is always doing things like paying the electric bill, providing rent money and buying just about anything the grandchildren need.
A normal day for the alcoholic daughter is to get up, find some alcohol to consume and then get the kids ready for school. Once the kids are gone, she spends her time getting drunk, sleeping and watching TV most of the day.
The daughter has an easy life because my friend (grandma) provides for the family because she feels sorry for the children. Perhaps this story sounds familiar. If the daughter needs money, mom gives it to her. When the grandchildren need something, the grandmother is there to serve them hand-and-foot.
As long as this sort of thing continues, the daughter could possibly end up dying from being such a serious alcoholic. Yes, the Grandmother is being a tremendous enabler. Her daughter does not have to get a job and everything she and the children need is basically taken care of by the grandparents. It would do here some good to start setting boundaries with the alcoholic daughter.
An alcoholic must hit a hard “bottom” before they will decide to get help. As long as we continue to enable them to keep drinking without suffering any consequences, they may never get well. The same “rules” apply even when there are grandchildren present.
You will need to learn how to let go of the alcoholic and still hold on to the grandchildren. There are going to be times when the kids will have to suffer because of their alcoholic mother or father’s actions. The best place to learn how to deal with an alcoholic is through attending alcoholism support group meetings. You will find an enormous amount of help from people who have grandchildren living in very similar situations as the one your family is experiencing.