At this point, listening to how they feel is very important. Try and help them see that it is the alcohol that is the real enemy, turning a loving parent into something dreadfully different. Explain to them that the problem-drinking seems to be a difficult issue that their dad or mum seems to be stuck in for the time being. Our book and our websites (both called Bottled Up) very clearly go into strategies that work and some that can exacerbate the situation, so it would be good to talk through with your children things that will promote change and things best avoided. One useful and constructive goal for a family in this situation may be to decide together to actively protect the eye and the heart from being around behaviour that show the loved one at their very worse.
Detaching in love will be much easier if you support each other and stand shoulder to shoulder against the devastation abusive drinking can bring. Introducing them to Alateen may be very useful and widen the support network around your family.
Breaking out of the secret world which surrounds this issue, as long as you do it wisely with safe and appropriate people, can greatly lessen the stresses and strains of ongoing family life. Telling a school tutor or counsellor about the dynamics of your situation will ensure that your children receive the understanding and support they need. Enlist understanding family members for support, help, and even a place of refuge if needed.
Do not struggle along alone. If you or your family are being abused physically or sexually, we strongly advise you to consider leaving your situation and getting out as soon as humanly possible. Do not stay and allow yourself to be a punch-bag during drunken rages.
At Bottled Up, we are here to help in many different ways. It is completely anonymous, although you may find yourself sharing things you never thought you'd tell anyone on our forum if that suits you. The choice is yours! Take things at your own pace and in your own way. In our world, you are the one calling the shots.
Some of you may or must choose to leave your situation; some of you will find it possible to stay. People may not understand your journey, or may think they understand it very well, but be careful not to take on dogmatic standpoints or ill-advised judgements and criticisms. You deeply deserve our compassion, kindness, and support. You are, after all, just an ordinary person struggling with an extraordinary and difficult situation.
For more information on this or other topics related to living with an alcoholic, go to Bottled Up.