Holiday drinking a nightmare for children of alcoholics

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: I am living with a foster family because my mother can't stop drinking. Last Christmas, she and my stepfather, "Grant," got really drunk and started fighting. My mother would always start the fights and would try to get Grant to hit her. This time I thought Grant was going to kill her. I was hiding with my little sister and brother in a cupboard and Mom was screaming for me to get the police. As I ran to the door, Grant grabbed me so Mom smashed him over the head with a stick of firewood. He went ballistic and threw her right through the living room window out into the snow. There was blood and glass everywhere. The Christmas tree fell into the fire and was burning but I ran to the neighbors anyway but they wouldn't open the door. Then the cops came and took Grant away. While he was in jail, we moved back to California. I wish my mother would quit drinking. How can I get her to stop? Maybe this letter will help people not drink so much. - I am 13 Dear 13: The holidays can be a recurring nightmare for children of alcoholic parents. If even one alcoholic parent sees themselves in your letter you have done a huge service. You have only one responsibility. It is not to solve your mother's drinking problem. It is to make sure the pattern of addiction stops with you. As children of alcoholics grow up, many begin abusing alcohol or drugs themselves in order to escape their emotions - or so they can "deal with" the alcoholic. Ask your foster parents to take you to Al Anon meetings so you can get perspective on being a child of an alcoholic and not pass this "gift" to your own children. I also hope you find something useful in the teen replies below. From Katrina, 15: I told my mother I will have nothing to do with her until she starts a program for recovering alcoholics. Sadly these things don't go away overnight. I no longer live with my mother either. I used to hide in closets while she and my dad fought until they passed out. About six years ago my stepmother moved in, my dad stopped getting drunk, and they enlightened me as to alcohol abuse. Later, I moved in with my aunt and she talked to me about it, too, and sent me to counseling which helped with issues I didn't even know I had. Just talking to someone can help. From Mariah, 16: My mother has been an alcoholic as long as I can remember - and she gets violent, too. The fights with my dad were over nothing, but things got thrown into walls, and the yelling never seemed to stop. I would isolate myself and pretend it wasn't happening. When I was 11 she left us for good. I wrote her a letter when I was 13 telling her how I felt and asking why she had done certain things, but she lied about those things. When I was 15, I was allowed to visit her if she wasn't drinking, but even when I visited, she usually had to have at least one beer. I love my mother, but she made the choice that she wanted booze more than her children. Talking about it, writing poetry, singing, these are all great ways to help deal with the stress alcoholic parents put on children. Don't bottle up your feelings because that can cause depression. I was so depressed up until seventh grade when I wrote her a letter and about 10 poems. I had thrown them away but my stepmother found them and encouraged me to send them. That helped a lot. Now I write poetry on a regular basis and it helps me stay happy. Write to Straight Talk at or PO Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.