February 9-15 is Children of Alcoholics Week, always observed in the week around Valentine’s Day. One in four children in the United States is directly affected by alcohol abuse. Think about that. Were you affected by your parents’ drinking? Are your kids affected by yours? Do you think there’s a connection?
Do we need a Children of Alcoholics Week? I think so. Why? Children of alcoholics learn to minimize, ignore and shove things aside in a desperate attempt to make things look normal. Don’t call attention to the problem and it won’t exist. But that doesn’t solve anything or change anything. All the alcoholic behaviors go on. You may have seen it as a child or even into adulthood. Plus, having seen it as a child, you may have gone down the path yourself. Your children may be seeing it now.
In the extreme, children face abuse, drunkenness, violence and negligence—all words that should never be associated with childhood. But even when alcoholic parents think they have it under control, they subject their children to dangers and anxieties that will haunt the children forever.
What are the lessons children learn? They can’t count on adults. There is no consistent behavior from adults so there is no need for a child to maintain any behavioral standards, either. They can go two ways: Either give up completely and end up on the same path as the parent, or become the parent and try to keep everything under control.
Doing the same thing will not work. It’s time to do something different. It may help you get along, but it won’t change the underlying problem. Think about how different things could be. Taking alcohol out of the equation opens up the possibilities. The fights, the negligence, the inconsistency—so much of it can be managed or even go away, if you make the decision to stop drinking and get treatment.
Lakeview Health can help. Call our intake specialists at 866.704.7692 . They are there 24/7 to talk to you and help you take the next step. Our program includes a special four-day family program to start the healing with your loved ones. Take this observance week off the calendar for a child you love.
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