Like many teenagers, I experimented with alcohol at an early age. I was 13, which is probably earlier than most. I even remember what my friends and I drank at the sleepover that night, beer and Seagrams and 7 Up. I even tried marjiuana for the first time that night, too. At 13! WHAT?! Where were my parents? They were doing the same thing, getting drunk at home. My parents were alcoholics for pretty much my entire life. My dad drank Busch Light (usually tall-boys) and my mom drank Sloe Gin and Diet Caffeine-Free Pepsi (it was so disgusting) in a big Bubba cup with lots of ice and a straw. That doesn’t mean I had a horrible childhood or that I had bad parents. They just had their own priority of wanting to stay home after 4-5pm every day and drink. They were ‘functioning alcoholics’ as my mom would say. I wasn’t neglected, my needs were always taken care of and I loved my parents more than anything, they were (still are) my bestfriends. But it was hard growing up with parents that couldn’t take you somewhere in the evening or pick you up when you wanted to come home from a sleepover in the middle of the night. When I was a little girl, our neighborhood would have block parties where the parents would play cards, drink and party in the carport while the kids would stay inside, watching movies or playing Nintendo. My parents told me when I got older that I would sneak outside, crawl under a picnic table at these parties and sip beer. Isn’t this a sign that you need to remove your young child from this situation?
Back to my teenage years, I drank and partied a lot. Every weekend, my friends and I would find a way to get our hands on beer or liquor and find a place to drink. Once I got to high school, I started hanging out with an older, more mature crowd. My parents weren’t stupid, they knew I was drinking. But they never grounded or lectured me about the dangers of alcohol. Alcoholism runs deep in my family so I would think my parents would have been worried and wanted to stop me before it got bad. For years I watched my dad fall asleep on the couch before eating dinner because he drank too much, and my mom have to close one eye to be able to watch TV because she had double vision. It was really hard to watch. But I was lucky enough to eventually get 2 sober parents.
Right before I turned 21, my parents both quit drinking cold turkey. It was difficult to watch them withdrawl and see how much they relied on alcohol but I was so happy that they continued with their sobriety together. I was able to have 2.5 years with my mom sober before she passed away from kidney cancer when she was 51. I can’t imagine if I didn’t have that time with her. My dad is still sober today even after the tragic loss of his wife of 28 years and I could not be more proud of him. A few months after my mom passed, I found out I was expecting my little girl. Becoming a mother completely changed my world and my mindset. After she was born, I went to a breast cancer fundraiser and drank for the first time since I gave birth (plus the 9+ months I was pregnant) and that was the last time. Over 3 years ago, I decided I didn’t want to drink anymore. I didn’t want to ever wake up hungover again, and feel like crap the next day when I needed to be on my A game while I was caring for my baby. I didn’t want her to grow up like I did, even though I wasn’t an every day drinker like my parents were. I wanted to be clear-headed at all times so I could be there for her whenever she needed me. I wanted to break the cycle for my child. I will know what she is doing and be present and involved in her life. I will talk to her friends’ parents so I know who she is with and where she is hanging out at. And you better believe I will be there when she is 13 and I will kick her ass if she thinks she’s going to drink at that age.I’m not saying having a few drinks here and there is a bad thing, because it’s not. It’s just something I personally don’t want or need to do. If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol addiction, please reach out to family, friends, your doctor, co-workers, anyone for support. Here are some great resources I have come across:
*I am not bashing any parent that choses to drink alcohol (around their kids or not), I’m simply sharing my experience being raised by alcoholics and hoping I can shed some light on how alcoholism effects children.