Having two daughters myself, I know the strain that can be injected into the family when the dad is struggling with an addiction to alcohol. Please take time to watch the video and leave comments at the bottom of this page. I’m sure the mom who sent in the email will greatly appreciate any experience, hope and wisdom you are able to share.
I received an email recently from a mom concerned about her daughter and husbands relationship.
“My daughter is 17 and finally admits dad is alcoholic. She has lots of resentment and anger. I am working on finding her a counselor but in the mean time all she and dad do is argue. Dad says she is being rude and disrespectful(she can be)but she also has a lot inside she doesn’t understand.
When she was younger they had a very close relationship but now I don’t know what is happening. I feel so torn! I hate seeing this happen. They both confide in me and I don’t know what to do!”
Ok, so here’s my response:
I’ve had some experience in this area. I learned, early on, in alcoholism support group meetings that I don’t have any control over people, places or things. I can’t stop people from getting into arguments. Now, I try and let go as best as I can, so that I will have more peace and serenity in my life – I can choose the battles that I want to get involved in. Now, being a parent, you know, as I was raising my children, I thought it was very important that my children had respect for their mother. Now, it’s interesting, because, when there is an alcoholic involved, a lot of times the alcoholic’s behavior is unacceptable behavior. Now, one of the things that I love is that both the daughter and the father communicating with you. That says to me that you’re probably expressing a very non-judgmental attitude and you’re expressing unconditional love to an alcoholic and daughter in this situation. And being a good listener – I think that is so, so vitally important, but, at the same time, if the alcoholics are expressing abusive, unacceptable behavior, then that has to be addressed and needs to be communicated by you and, also, the daughter needs to learn how to set boundaries with the alcoholic father, if they’re being abusive, and letting them know that their behavior is unacceptable.
I love that you are getting involved, getting her involved with a counselor, I think that’s a great thing. “Al-anon” has a program called “Al-ateen”, that’s a wonderful program to get teenagers involved in. So, we have to choose our battles. Now, one of the things that I most definitely know is that there is healing that can come to relationships like this. What is happening right now may seem very uncomfortable and devastating. There is always hope that the alcoholic will get sober and get into a program of recovery, and then have a spiritual awakening, then get to see that devastation and damage they have done, not only to the relationship with a daughter, but also, relationships with other people. And if they get involved in AA, a part of their program will be to make amends, and there can be healing. I most definitely know this to be true through my own experience with my family.
So, I hope that helps you out a little bit, being in a situation where alcoholism is present in the family, it’s so difficult to find that fine line between detachment and letting go of situations. And, what our part is in getting involved as a parent – I think it’s important that we don’t allow children to disrespect the other parent. They need to grow up with solid foundations knowing what is acceptable and non-acceptable in their behavior, and then, also, on the alcoholic side – they need to understand, in a role of a parent, what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior when it’s expressed toward the child. I always side it for the child – we have to protect them against abuse and do whatever it is possible to protect them in this situation. In our community, there are many, many organizations that help people who are in abusive situations. You may not even realize that this is an abusive situation. I’m not saying that it is. So it might be a good idea to do a little more research on what it means to be in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic…
Please leave your comments below. I’m confident we can help this mom sort out how to handle this troubled relationship between a daughter and an alcoholic dad.