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Alcohol, Dad & shutting up

(20 Posts)
NothingsLeft Thu 26-Sep-13 22:23:50

I feel for you. Both my parents are alcoholics. My mum is revenged by alcohol and goes on the wagon for a bit when at deaths door. Never lasts though.

After years of this, I have very firm boundaries around their drinking. There is no drinking at my house or at any of my social occasions they attend. Obviously you can't control what happens elsewhere but I don't visit them at home if there is drink involved and I will leave lunches/restaurants if they start drinking heavily. DH & I never drink around them.

It doesn't go down well and they think I'm precious and difficult. I just cannot be a part in watching someone drinking themselves to death. I have spent far too many nights worrying she won't make it. Doing this does isolate me but that's their choice. When they die at least I won't feel complicit in it.

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 19:59:00

Thank you Scarletwoman I appreciate your post. I feel very similar about my dad, he is the most generous & kind & funny person when sober, but a nasty drunk. He was worse years ago but now he is older he is not as aggressive physically just shouty and very snarky. It breaks my heart. We have been gettin on so well my dcs love him and he's so good & patient & loving with them but obviously they won't be around him if he is drinking. And I KNOW this just the tip of the iceberg. I have found an al-anon nearby I'm going to go on Tuesday. Thanks everyone for your help smile

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 26-Sep-13 19:55:46

I can empathise with everyone on this thread who had/has a high functioning alcoholic as a parent. My dad still drinks, and like you OP, I'm the only one in the family who has openly called a spade a spade (or an alcoholic am alcoholic) and hence been viewed as the trouble maker. It is so intensely frustrating, isn't it?

My parents' marriage ended after almost thirty years as a result of DF's behaviour and to be honest, it annoys me equally that my mum stayed with him for so long (she left once me and DBs were at uni). I think my brothers see things differently as they were younger than me and hence I remember much more about how things were.

In the past, I think I tried to minimise things too - my DM certainly did and we all grew up covering up for DF, eg it had to be a secret when he lost his license due to drink driving - despite the fact it had appeared in court in brief in the local paper. Now, I have no qualms about telling it like it was. If Mumsnet has taught me one thing, it's that none of it was my fault and I was a child when the majority of the drinking occurred.

Roll on to today and we barely see DF. He is about to become a GF for the second time but has seen my DD only a handful of times. I have no desire to change this. You reap what you sow I guess.

In answer to your original question (sorry for going on), I would make it an alcohol free stay, your house, your rules. Hard to enforce but it sounds like you have put up with more than enough over the years. Now you're old enough and have the power to say what goes - your DF needs to understand that. Good luck.

My DF was a functioning alcoholic too, it's just so sad isn't it? sad

He, too, was just so much better to be around the time he was on the wagon. I once took my young daughters to stay with him when my SM was not there. At this point he had been to a clinic and been sober for about four months. I was devastated when I saw him shiftily swig from a bottle and balance the cap on the top of the bottle rather than screwing it back on (an old 'trick' of his) so he could keep going back to it without me noticing. And I had to be there for the rest of the night as my little girls were asleep upstairs sad. But I was really gutted, as I had naively thought he was not a drinker any more. sad I felt so, so let down.

The thing is, although he was much better company when sober, (my father was a very witty, affectionate and entertaining man unless horribly plastered) he didn't believe he was better company I don't think. It was the drink which made him seemingly confident and gregarious. But then, in his later years his mother died and he never got over it. He dived headlong into bottle after bottle and it was too much, and he became bad company and a dreadful worry to his family.

On the one hand, our fathers are adults and must make their own choices about whether or not they drink when they have an addiction. On the other hand, as the people who love them, we feel we cannot stand by and just 'let' it all happen. But the thing is, your actions will neither cure him nor make him worse. Only his actions can do that.

But if you don't want him drinking in your house, then that is something you can have control over.

Feel quite emotional writing that as my DF died at 63, he was a much-loved man, but his addiction to drink ruined the last few years of his life and tarnished his relationships with his family.

AdoraBell Thu 26-Sep-13 18:32:06

In addtion to all the good advice, when you tell them that your dad will not be drinking in your home also say that your DH agrees with you. Present a united front so they know they can't work on either one of you, ie can't try to Get DH to make you give in to their behaviours.

And if DM pulls the "I can't see my GC" card you know that being around an alcohólic can have a detremental effect on DCs so no, they can't see your DS while they continúe to behave in this way.

Kirk1 Thu 26-Sep-13 18:15:40

Can you try "we don't drink in the house/around DS" and if your Mum repeats "he's entitled" etc point him in the direction of the pub. Or flat out say "no-one is entitled to drink in my house if I say no."

mintgreenchilli Thu 26-Sep-13 17:49:50

My Dad is an alcoholic and I have certain ground rules with him that he remembers and more or less respects, but it's taken 10 years to get there.

After one particularly awful Christmas, when I ended up crying and wishing I had never visited, I told him I couldn't cope with travelling 5 hours to see him only to have to deal with his scenes. We've agreed he won't therefore get drunk on special occasions and instead talk through his problems...takes longer but is much less painful.

I won't let him stay at my in-laws in case he gets drunk and there's a scene...they won't be able to handle that. Instead, we visit him.

He knows I won't speak to him for long if he's drunk. I can barely get any sense out of him anyway.

I won't buy him alcohol but if other people or he does then fine, but I won't hang around to watch him drink it!

Hi Gangie,

Re your comment:-
"I have tried to get my mum to go to alanon but she will not. I have thought about it myself but always think, ah it wasn't that bad - but I believe that is just minimising and maybe It's time I faced up to that. I will look into it now though as I know from experience that by Christmas it will have got a lot worse".

Go to Al-anon yourself if you can. If you cannot attend their meetings at the very least read their literature, it will help you. You may well have minimised your Dad's drinking to date, he certainly will have done so as well.

Re your other comment:-
"I really don't want to cancel the visit, the situation might not even arise (am I clutching at straws?!) and my little boy loves his granny & grandad so much"

If your mother has previously bought alcohol for her alcoholic H it is likely she will do so again or at the very least they will bring alcohol with them. The situation will arise either way, he is thinking about where his next drink is going to come from and his wife facilitates his drinking. It is your house so they will need to abide by any rule you care to set. Your mother has already tried to break this boundary by saying that he is "entitled to a few beers on a Saturday night".

It will also do your DC no good at all to have such people around him, particularly if one of them is an alcoholic. They do not make for being good grandparents. It is better to not host them in your home at all because this scenario does have DFS written all over it.

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 17:34:47

I have tried to get my mum to go to alanon but she will not. I have thought about it myself but always think, ah it wasn't that bad - but I believe that is just minimising and maybe It's time I faced up to that. I will look into it now though as I know from experience that by Christmas it will have got a lot worse.

I really don't want to cancel the visit, the situation might not even arise (am I clutching at straws?!) and my little boy loves his granny & grandad so much. confused

If your Dad is an alcoholic then he should never drink alcohol again!.

Your mother is acting as his enabler here as well as pacifier, two roles she has perfected over many years. She is not helping him at all by her misguided actions but I guess you realise that.

I would not have them in your house for any length of time let alone the weekend. This has DFS - disaster from the start - written all over it. the two of them are not good role models for any children you have either.

Your house, your rules and he will likely drink or want to drink in your home. If he drinks in your house you will enable this behaviour and enabling your Dad does not help anyone. It only gives the enabling person a false sense of control.

The 3cs re alcoholism are ones that you would do good to remember:-
You did not cause this
You cannot cure this
You cannot control this

I would also suggest you contact Al-anon as they are very helpful for family members of problem drinkers.

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 17:21:07

That's it exactly hairy. I am the argumentative stubborn 'black sheep' and the whole family will be tut tutting that I am just so difficult and I'm Making situation worse! Agh!!!!! Lucky my OH is very supportive grin

HairyGrotter Thu 26-Sep-13 17:17:13

My father was/is a functioning alcoholic, I'm the only one of my siblings to confront it. My mum enabled him with the whole 'secret' and 'never discuss it' thing for years, until he ran off with someone else.

You are well within your rights to say you're not comfortable with him drinking, sadly, as he's functioning, he'll see his drinking as less of an issue than an 'alcoholic'. So frustrating, especially when you're deemed 'bad' for speaking up!

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 16:50:17

Thanks for replies so far. I would nearly prefer to say nothing, it would certainly be easier as truly I am very nervous about saying it, I do not have the best relationship with him and find it hard to talk about even mundane things. But I feel strongly that my saying nothing I am worse.

Pawprint Thu 26-Sep-13 16:29:55

What a difficult situation. Agree with others who say that your mum is, unwittingly, enabling him. By buying him booze, she believes that she can control how much he drinks.

I would cancel the weekend unless your dad agrees not to drink. He probably feels that it is more acceptable for him to drink at the weekend, but if he can't drink without getting drunk (and considering that you have small children) then he shouldn't inflict that on you.

Meerka Thu 26-Sep-13 16:23:56

it's kind of hard because what happens if he forces the issue?

You are absolutely within your rights to say No to drinking in your house but you may need to be prepared for an argument or saying 'look, if you drink then I'm afraid we'd ask you not to come again until you are willing to be dry". Especially if he promises not to drink and then does.

But you are absolutely right to stand your ground here and your wording seems fine to me. Or if you wanted you could say "we don't have any drink in the house at all" to make it more neutral ( and hide anything that you do have!)

I think saying 'I am not comfortable with you drinking' is perfect.

Best of luck Gangie flowers

YoniBottsBumgina Thu 26-Sep-13 16:16:13

I think that sounds fine and fair. If he wants to drink he is welcome to go elsewhere to do it. It's your home.

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 16:11:34

Sorry just wanted to add that I am not looking for an argument or even a discussion in just going to say 'I am not comfortable with you drinking'. Thought that was best thing to say as it is my feeling, therefore its valid and no one can argue with it. If someone can think of something better to say tell me!

YANBU at all. Your DM is enabling him - and he is absolutely not 'entitled' to have a few beers in your house if you don't want him to drink there.

Gangie Thu 26-Sep-13 15:59:29

Il try not to drip feed, basically my dad is a functioning alcoholic all my life but things got very bad last year & he collapsed at work and ended up in hospital for a few weeks. We all (mother & sisters) thought this would hopefully be a breakthrough of sorts as for the last 30 years no one has actually said 'dad your an alcoholic'. Worlds worst secret. Anyway he stopped drinking & went to counselling for the first time ever and was a changed man. Happy & helpful and a joy to his grandchildren instead of asleep/aggressive/shouty/argumentative you get the picture.
So in June he had A drink. Then another. And the next day too. Broke down crying was so sorry ect. Didn't happen again for a few weeks. Then again etc. now he has decided he can 'handle it' and is having a few beers at home on a Saturday night. Except its other nights too, but largely he is ok and pretending its all under control.
They are coming for the weekend. My OH doesn't drink (no issues just we have v small children) and I rarely drink. Have told my mum not to bring drink if dad wants a drink there is a pub up the road. She is goin mad begging me to say nothing to avoid confrontation and that 'he's entitled to a few beers on a sat night'. This is the same woman who bought him a box of beer because he asked her too and 'he would have bought it anyway'. I'm sorry for all the typing errors I'm on phone and am stressed.

So aibu? If dad brings a few beers and wants to drink them quietly in my home should I say nothing to keep the equilibrium? I feel by doing that I am essentially giving him my approval? Help!

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