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to be concerned about how much my parents drink.

(35 Posts)
justwondering72 Thu 09-May-13 09:10:23

I seem to have lost my perspective on this.

My parents have, for a very long time - at least 20 years - had a glass of wine while cooking / pre-dinner, drunk the rest of the bottle with dinner, then gone on to have 3 or 4 drinks (whisky or rum) in the evening, pretty much every night. They are never drunk, as in slurring or staggering, though I have had a couple of phone calls from my mum where I can tell she's a bit pissed because her voice sounds different and she's snippier than usual. They never go out drinking - except, of course, wine with food if eating out.

DH is from a family where they would be more likely to have a cup of tea with 'tea' in the evening rather than wine - and they would never drink spirits in the evening. They crack out the wine when we go to visit, and my FIL probably has an occasional beer at the weekend or at the pub with his football mates. Dh has always made it clear that he thinks my parents drink too much, though he often has a few whiskies in the evening when they are staying with us.

My DSis is concerned about how much they drink. She lives closer, so sees them more often, and tends to take the Guardian health columns as gospel, and is a self confessed control freak and she's concerned because they are drinking way over the 'safe limits'. She has voiced her concerns to them, they have reacted defensively - though my dad does take it on board and reduce his alcohol intake for a while, then it creeps back up. My mum gets very defensive though. She tends to believe that guidelines are written for everyone else - not her.

Healthwise they both seem in ok nick for their ages. My dad was recommended for a specific reason to cut back on alcohol intake by the Dr, which he did, but since that particular health issue passed, he's reverted to the norm. My mum probably does not tell anything like the truth if asked by a medic - and she has several conditions that I suspect are caused by or exacerbated by too much alcohol - insommnia, stomach ulcers, overweight.

And me? I like a small glass of wine while cooking dinner, and another one while eating, and that's pretty much it. I very very occasionally (once a month maybe) have a whisky in the evening (very small, with water) once the children are in bed.

So are my parents drinking too much? Are the safe limits guidelines the important ones - or are they grown ups who can make their own decisions? Should my sister and I butt out or intervene by talking to them? I personally would rather leave them to work it out for themselves, only going as far as to tell them that I personally sleep badly when I drink too much, that I find it really helps weight loss when I stop drinking altogether, to turn down their offers of a drink and have a cup of tea instead. My sister favours a more direct approach - and would like me to back her up.

Whaddya think?

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 09-May-13 21:26:52

Depends on the size of the glass amonthefence. A bottle of wine is around 9-10 units.

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 09-May-13 21:25:50

My Dad was a functioning alchohohic, much like your parents OP.
Unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. People accept that they are drinking too much, and change it, or they don't. You can't really make them.
FWIW my dad died at 59, and would still be here had he not been a boozer. I don't have any guilt about it, because I couldn't control it, but it does make me sad.

amonthefence Thu 09-May-13 21:13:49

How many largers / glasses of wine is 5 - 10 units??

golemmings Thu 09-May-13 19:35:43

Stargirl, too right its hard. I'm in the same boat. Since my mum died my dad has been drinking heavily. I phone pretty much every night and by half 7 he's generally pissed. Occasionally he's utterly nonsensical, once he was passed out on the bedroom floor but mostly he just slurs his words and repeats himself 5 or 6 times during the 20min chat.

I find it stressful, depressing and always come off the phone angry. I have no idea how to disengage.
It's really hard to say "none of my business" when you see an adult you care about going down the road to self distruct.

birdsofshore Thu 09-May-13 19:09:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stargirl1701 Thu 09-May-13 18:39:16

My Dad is the same. But, he is an adult. He knows the guidelines. He gets a row from the doctor when he fills in health questionnaires. He knows it is more than the guidelines recommend. But, he is an adult. He is retired and chooses to spend his money and his time like this. It doesn't impact anyone (Mum is dead).

It isn't what I would do. That is hard to accept.

nextphase Thu 09-May-13 18:29:37

Mine too drink more than could be classed as "within the limits".
Me, I'm as good as tee total most of the time - tho drink a little if out with friends etc. Blame pregnancy, bf then sleepless kids!

I have commented when they go for "just one more", and they know I think they drink too much. But I've left it there - ie let them know I think its excessive, but not dissaproving or forcing them to change. If they come here there is plenty to drink, but we normally run out before they hit the levels they would normally have at home.

It sounds like your parents are drinking too much, too often. But its been pointed out to them, and they have chosen to ignore the advice. I'm not sure what else you can do? Tho recently there was a campaign round here about looking at how much you drank, and a free calculator about units / benifits of cutting back. Is there a free-by you could get sent to them?

amonthefence Thu 09-May-13 17:06:19

I'm on the fence with you on this one. You have pretty much described my parents weekend drinking habits. Though they do have a glass of wine and or beer on week nights too. They too are v. healthy and never get slurry.

This soon behaviour soon rubbed off on me though and now I've left home. realise that I do similar and my friends thhink I probs drink too much. But it was how I was brought up. Although I see this as home comforts and is one of my few luxuries.

Although I always knew they drink a lot I just put it down to stressful lives and stuff. And any time I trued to even think about drinking them under
the table I always ended up v sloshed.

I finally realised that perhaps their behaviour wasn't normal parenting. When an exdp who was a v social drinker was like your dps drink a lot I had a hangover for several days afterwards.

Sorry for the mumbled post I have nc for this

EasyToEatTiger Thu 09-May-13 16:51:54

You can't control your parents. They have a relationship between each other, and it's their business what they do with their lives. You can tell them that you care about them, and you may be able to engage them in things that don't involve alcohol. People do become very defensive about certain behaviours because often they are being held in judgement. We all have our little habits one way or the other.
If you are able, try to enjoy your parents while you have them.

CelticPixie Thu 09-May-13 16:36:48

I'm shocked at how many people are telling the OP to mind her own business. These are her parents for gods sake and she has every right to be cornered about them. In fact I wonder how many of the people who are telling you to butt our are actually pissheads themselves?

Quilty Thu 09-May-13 15:25:17

Bloody hell Callisto, how is it none of her business? They're her parents not just some couple five doors down or something! Plus I think her concerns are about their health not whether they can afford it or not!

I think if you and your sister talk to them together it would perhaps send a stronger message. Sounds like your mum will be very difficult to get through to though!

EuroShaggleton Thu 09-May-13 15:15:30

They are certainly drinking more than the guideline amount. They are undoubtedly aware of that - you say your mother doesn't tell your dr the truth. They are adults - it is their decision to make. Perhaps they would rather live X more years the way they enjoy than X + 5 depriving themselves of something from which they derive pleasure.

justwondering72 Thu 09-May-13 15:10:52

I am kind of worried about it because they are my parents and I love them, and I want them around and able to enjoy their lives and their grandchildren for as long as they possibly can. At the same time I don't follow every health guideline to the letter in my own life, so why should I expect my parents to?

My sister OTOH tends to take health guidelines very seriously, and she has a very healthy lifestyle, I think that's why she is more actively concerned than I am. I know she is motivated by her love for them too though.

Fwiw their drinking is excessive.

I think this is what I was really asking.. It is a lot, isn't it? I mean it's going to be having a negative impact on their health isn't it, whether or not they are functioning just fine in their day to day lives - and they are. They never drink during the day, never have hangovers etc. My mum tends to get very naggy and a bit rude when she's had too many which makes her very annoying, but that's unusual and is as far as it goes. So the impact for them is absolutely minimal - except in terms of their future (and current) health.

Thanks all for your input.

TigOldBitties Thu 09-May-13 14:59:33

My parents drink like this, as do my grandparents, although they also smoke like chimneys. My grandparents are into their nineties, some people are just lucky and some aren't, you can predict who it will be, they could giv duo the drink, go on a health kick and then have a horrendous car crash the next day.

I think that you can be worried, but privately, same for your sister.

I drink less but I'm just imagining if my DC told me they were concerned etc or that they felt I was eating too much junk (despite being slim and exercising), I would tell them to mind their own.

I'd personally take the view in regards to your parents that they are intelligent adults, who are aware of the risks, if they want to drink its their choice.

lydiajones Thu 09-May-13 14:56:13

YANBU - but I don't know what you can do to change what they are doing. I don't agree with people who say it is not your business they are your parents and you are worried about them.

maddening Thu 09-May-13 14:49:50

As long as they are able to care for themselves in the event of illnesses brought on by alcahol then don't worry about it.

Obviously it is fine to air your concerns as a concerned relative but you can't force them to do anything anyway.

Fwiw their drinking is excessive.

thebody Thu 09-May-13 14:47:25

I think it's absolutely none of your business or that of your sister either.

I am sure tour parents are well able to make their own decisions and as long as they aren't drink driving or aggressive then its the way it is.

My mil never drank. Or smoked excersised and take thin she died of cancer at 64.
Fil drank, smoked and was morbidly obese, died at 76.

She suffered and he died in seconds from a heart attack.

Life is to be enjoyed. I suspect your parents are doing that, as are you so in the nicest way, butt out.

squalorvictoria Thu 09-May-13 14:44:17

I'm surprised so many people are laying into you, saying it's none of your business. If it were my parents I would be very worried indeed. Half a bottle of wine plus 3-4 measures of spirits, every day. That's a lot, and it WILL be having a detrimental effect on their health.

Sadly, there isn't much you can do. My aunt and uncle have been functioning alcoholics for years. Have cut down after health scares, but soon slip back to old habits. To pull them up on it would result in massive rows and family rifts. I know they're heading for early deaths though. It's just grim.

KellyElly Thu 09-May-13 13:56:27

I don't think YABU to be worried but I don't really think there's a lot you can do about it. Many people drink like this and don't see themselves as heavy drinkers as they aren't sitting alone downing a bottle or two of wine to themselves each night. It seems normal, civilized drinking to them as they aren't really getting drunk. Many people probably do drink like this and escape liver problems.

Try to encourage them to have a couple of nights off a week? I still don't think they'll listen though. If they were smokers, they would probably be the same and tell you to mind your own business. People don't change their habits unless they are forced to or want to. Pressure from others will just make them defensive.

Potteresque97 Thu 09-May-13 12:52:02

Gosh I'm so surprised many posters don't think this is a problem - it's way too much to drink on a daily basis & will be making them more tired, more prone to illness etc. Mind you, I consider both my parents to have drink problems - but they drink slightly more than your parents, at least a bottle each every night, spirits/more bottles too a few times a week. I don't think anything you do is likely to change it - my parents were confronted about it ages ago & got very nasty but dug in and can't/won't change. My parents dismissed us all (4 adult children) as over-reacting and various shades of mad but then they sometimes allude to the fact they know they have a problem.

chillynose Thu 09-May-13 12:30:20

How can it be none of her buisness u have every right to be worried they r u parents

cassgate Thu 09-May-13 12:25:39

This was my parents to an extent when they were alive. They both liked a drink. My dad was more of a social drinker and rarely had a drink at home, just at xmas. He was out a lot 4 or 5 times a week. But my mum would drink in the evenings at home every evening. She would have at least 6 whiskey and cokes a day sometimes more. I remember being concerned more about my mum than my dad although it was my dad who died first. He was 58 when he died. My mum died 9 months later and was 62. Both had heart attacks.

I look back now and wonder if I should have said something but I doubt they would have cut down even if I had. I do remember about 5 years before they died having a conversation with my dad. At the time my uncle was ill with bowel cancer with no hope of a recovery as it had spread to his liver. I was very upset as my uncle was like a second dad to me. He was also a very big drinker. My dad said that despite my uncle only being 61 at the time he had had a very good and enjoyable life and would not have changed anything and I should be prepared that given my mum and his life styles (drinking and with my mum also smoking) that it was unlikely that they would live into a ripe old age.

Its hard to know what to do for the best. It really boils down to if you can live with it if god forbid you say nothing and something happens to them. With my parents the conversation that I had with my dad at the time of my uncles illness has helped me no end as I know in my heart that even if I had expressed my concern at the level of their drinking they wouldnt have changed anything.

DaisyBD Thu 09-May-13 12:10:37

I think at some point people have to be left to take responsibilty for themsleves even if the choices they make aren't the ones we'd choose.


Yes, they are probably drinking more than is good for them. You have to ask yourself, is it causing you a problem? If it is, you can only address how you deal with it for yourself. You can't change what they do. You can tell them how you feel about it, but it's probably not helpful to keep telling them. And it's probably best to simply tell them what your concerns are, how you are affected (worry about them etc) rather than telling them what to do.

In any case, telling people to drink less never works, people do what they want to do and until (and unless) it becomes a problem for them, they won't change. And only if carrying on drinking becomes worse than not drinking. And maybe not even then.

If this is really causing you a lot of worry, I would try Al-Anon. They are brilliant at helping people to work out what is their stuff, and what they can deal with, and how to leave alone the stuff that belongs to other people (and that you can't affect anyway).

Good luck. X

EldritchCleavage Thu 09-May-13 12:03:06

You're describing my FIL. His doctors have warned him he is well on course for liver disease unless he cuts down. He doesn't and you know what? We don't say anything to him about it any more.

DH can't understand why he won't stop drinking given the known risk to his health, but he accepts his father won't, and I think you probably need to do the same, hard though it is.

This almost certainly isn't a case of not knowing they drink to much, or that it is causing them issues. In other words, all the advice in the world isn't going to make them suddenly stop if they don't want to.

Equally, I wouldn't do anything that helps your parents normalise their level of drinking. With FIL DH and I both detached and made sure that our stays with him couldn't be used by him to enable drinking, so we refused all but minimal alcohol, never bought alcohol as part of our contribution to the holiday and declined most invitations to pop down to the local bar.

squeakytoy Thu 09-May-13 11:47:40

none of your business... at all.

they are adults and it is up to them what they do in an evening..

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