Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Child in an alcoholic/binge drinkers care.(32 Posts)
This may come as a surprise to you but you may guess I'm a man ( last time I looked anyway). Well here goes. I'd like a female's input to this drastic situation I am facing.
I have been in a relationship with my partner for just over 3 years now. Previously I was with another woman for 15 years and had children. My latest partner and I have one small boy, aged 18 months and he is the bees knees. Anyway, she has a child aged 8 from a previous relationship too.
My partner has since the age of 15 been a binge drinker, verging on alcoholism. Has been in and out of counselling, psycho therapy, was advised at one point in her life to be sectioned and on anti depressents. She hasn't had the best upbringing, losing two fathers ( her natural father when she was only 4 who was also an alcoholic and the other, the step father, when 15 who was strict). She has been to the AA ( though quit after a couple of months), seen her GP and an Alcoholic Counsellor who was to be honest absolutely useless.
Here's my dilemna. My partner and I don't live together. It's impossible with her binge drinking which sends her violent and argumentative. I have in all events done my best to stand by her, trying to support her both through encouragement or through trying to show her alternatives to seeking help. Even though she understands her problem and admits it, she doesn't seem too interested in seeking the right help. She's 28 and also two years into a counselling course, undergoing counselling at this moment in time and also trying to establish a career. She's very intelligent, when sober the most loving, caring and sensible mother anyone could ask for. My child is bathed regularly, beautiful clothes, healthy foods ( especially as I have a heart condition) and encourages him with his devleopment. In fact when sober I cannot fault her.
The problem is her drinking. Several times the police have been called because she creates an atmosphere. She was recently in a fight because of drink ( does a 28 year old woman act like this) with another woman and got a pasting. She has had social service investigations in the past before because of her drinking and the police have even removed her 8 year old and placed him in my care for 24 hours because she was drunk and agressive.
I feel my child is at risk. We have recently split and now I am nolonger there to watch over my child and her other. Whilst she agrees that I have my son at weekends which allows her to drink, there have been times when I have called or cold called on her and found her drinking, either alone or with friends whilst in the charge of my son. This creates an argument as I see my son at risk later on when she is absolutely hammered. Only a few weeks ago she had a nasty injury when falling asleep with a cigarette and set fire to her breast! Another recently was her falling asleep with a cigarette and burning her dress! Luckily I had my son with me and her other was with his father. She has also attacked me with a knife whilst I am holding our baby boy and he was terrified because she had been to a party and got hammered and came home in a rage whilst I was looking after her other son too. He is very distressed!
I have spoken to her mother who admits she doesn't know what to do. Police cannot become involved unless a crime is committed and social services are neither here or there and usually whn they act it's too late!
As a man I am asking for a woman's opinion on this. We read so many articles about men being drunk and threatening partners and mothers. This is a role reversal. I do not know what to do? I fear contacting social services because I don't want to cause her too much grief and send her over the edge. On the other hand I have my son's well being and best interests and safety at heart. What is my best course of action and who can I speak to who can help me for my son? I do not wish to take him from her at all, I am just concerned that despite her guarentees she won't drink with him that she might and something terrible will happen. This is because I've caught her doing it! Someone please help or point me in the right direction for the sakes of my little boy.
My heart goes out to you and the 2 kids. I don't know where to start - my overiding thoughts when reading about your exp partner is that she is most definitely an alcoholic and that with her violent tendencies you should seek sole support of your son.
How does the father of the other child feel?
Give her an ultimatum - are you in London? If so, the Maudsley has a brilliant drug and alcohol unit which can refer her to a drying out centre if appropriate, or therapy (both group and individual.) They have a high success rate.
Tell her (when she's sober) that if she doesn't get herself referred to stop drinking for good, you will go to court to get custody of your child.
You sound like an amazingly supportive ex. But at 18 months old, your DS can't be left in the care of someone who is so out of control. You only need one accident to have a dead or grievously injured child - you don't need 2.
I would do whatever I could to get my child out of there TBH. Both of them, ring someone. Get something done.
Thanks for the postings.
To be honest her ex from a few years ago doesn't say much. He drinks himself. I'm close to 36 now and he's 30 and only on a couple of occassions has complained about her drinking and that was when we first met and her other son was 5.
I know what I must do but deep down I guess I still love her and care for her. It's a horrible situation to live in, but I have to distance myself from my own emotional turmoil now and put my son's wellbeing first place. So many father's wouldn't really care I guess or just laugh it off that women like to drink today. And forgive me if I sound as though I am bitter to women as I am not. My son needs both parents but sober! I cannot drink because of my heart and I am afraid of what may happen if I am not there. I also understand it is up to HER to seek help. If she really wants it. But what's scary is she just quickly hands him to me freely when she's about to drink. I guess I should be grateful for that at least, right?
I can only give you a very subjective reply based on my own experience. I was your little boy my mother is an alcoholic, she is unable to go a day without getting drunk. Like your ex-partner, my mother is a wonderful person when sober but absolutely awful when she has been drinking.
I hate to say this but it her behaviour has had a terrible impact on my life. As a young adult I was incredibly insecure, unhappy and had difficulty forging friendships or any meaningful relationships for that matter. Now that I am older I have come to terms with the fact that I was abused as a child (mentally at the hands of my mothers alcoholism and physically at the hands of my father and getting in between my parents physical rows). I have cut my parents out of my life because their presence just makes life unbearable.
An unpredictable upbringing where you are not sure if you are going to get a hug or beating from minute to minute is no way for a child to grow up. I urge you to take legal advice, your little boy deserves a predictable, loving and stable environment to grow up.
I am so sorry you face this and only wish that my father had the forethought to try and protect me from my mother.
What an awful situation for you all.
It would appear(from what you have posted)that your ex is not in a fit state to look after the kids at the moment - she is in need of help herself.
It is an awful state of affairs when something has to happen, before she can be given that help.
Awful as it sounds, but, perhaps she needs to be shocked into getting that help herself... so you may need to take things further than you really wish..
Perhaps an outside agency like
may be able to offer some initial help, (and you could also get an outsiders viewpoint re what is happening?)
Keep posting.. there are lots of people with much to offer here.
I am so sorry you have this worry to deal with. I have no experience of alcoholism in the family but agree with Caligula - at 18 months your precious little son is too young to be placed at potential risk. She is clearly breaking her agreement about not drinking when she has care of your son - you say so yourself.
I was at school with a pupil whose mother was alcoholic. She never stopped loving her mum, who was a loving, delightful, cultured woman when sober, but she was a joint carer for her from a young age and it ruined her childhood. There was no lack of love, and her dad was in the home and caring for his wife too, but she saw things and dealt with things no child should see. Her mum, too, was always in some kind of therapy process or getting treatment, but it never worked for her.
Do you really want a future like this for your ds?
Your ex sounds like a wonderful person when sober but I don't think she can go much more "over the edge" than she is right now, with regards to your sons' wellbeing.
I hope you get good advice on here from people with direct experience of this kind of distressing situation, C.
You point out a truth that so much appears in the press about drunken, violent fathers, but less is spoken of mothers in the same situation. Do you think Al-Anon could help with your situation? Put you in touch with a support group maybe?
Your son is lucky to have you still actively involved in his life. If push came to shove and you had to do this, could you manage complete custody of him while his mum gets better?
Dejags, I am so glad you were around to see this thread. I knew you would have wise words
I'm overwhelmed by the response so far and find this encouraging to say the least. I think I know in my heart of hearts what I must do...seek SS involvement. maybe talk to AA or someone? But am I the guy who pushes the button on her self destructiveness state once and for all. She dotes on him when sober. But ignores him when drunk. Drink is what she loves when one sip passes through her lips. I guess that's why she is so quick to agree to hand him over to me.
I have threatened SS involvement and she panics. Wonders why I would do that to her? I have explained this is not born out of resentment or bitterness but for our little boy.
As far as custody rights I guess I would support him. I could. maybe I am too over protective for him? But all I am doing is being what a father should be in all this.
I'm a strong guy with broad shoulders. Not the best partner in the world but despite that a supporting and loving dad. Does anyone know what SS standing is on all this with regards to a parent being an alcoholic? Plus the courts are geared towards the mother being the primary carer. I'm confused and sickened for him about this predicament.
You're not over-protective - just re-read Dejag's thread and you'll know. She poses a serious risk to his well being.
She is already on the road to self-destruct. You are playing no part in that. Your actions just may help her - I certainly hope so.
I couldn't say what the courts' view on alcoholism in parents is, XFiles, or SS, for that matter, but I am sure that any professionals you bring into the equation will want to
- keep him in as close contact as possible with his mum while she gets effective treatment
- support you in caring for him
While you are there for both of them expressing your concern and giving support, you are very unlikely to lose custody of your ds. They will work with you, I am sure.
Do ring AA - they will give you expert advice.
You can call Drinkline if you are worried about someone elses drinking as well as your own: 0800 9178282
I don't have any experience of alcoholism/binge drinking either, but my mum grew up with her alcoholic father who sexually abused her and her sister, and physically abused her mum. Her mum then physically abused her and her sister too. Social services were periodically involved and my mum lied about the abuse to prevent her and her sister splitting up in care. She and her sister both say now they wished they had been taken into care as their childhood was so dreadful.
Just another story, but I think you do need to contact SS. You might think it's being too hard but if someone gets there before you they will wonder why you've done nothing to stop it, and you both might end up losing your child(ren). It is a bit harsh, but that's how they work... and if she got scared into going for help through it and satisfied the SS, everyone will be happy - her, you, the children.
Other than that, all I can offer is sympathy.
Al-Anon Family Groups UK & Eire
61 Great Dover Street
Tel: 020 7403 0888
Fax: 020 7378 9910
You may have already tried them.. but I'm sure they will be useful too.
c, al-anon will give you some advice and put you in touch with a local group. They'll also be able to give you some scary info about the long term effects of growing up as the child of an alcoholic.
Alcoholism isn't of itself a reason for courts not to grant either contact or care and control (there are masses of cases where courts give sole contact to alcoholic absent parents), but given that your DS is 18 months old, it would be extremely unusual for them to not consider your application for care and control. Do you have parental responsibility?
Good point from Steffee as well. About running the risk of both of you losing him. At least if you're looking after him, long term he has a chance of having both his parents.
Like Dejags I had an alcoholic parent (my mother) so I'm also approaching it from that viewpoint. Your son is very lucky to have you, a sober, sensible parent, to rely on. My gut feeling after reading your posts is that the best thing at the moment would be for you to be in sole charge of your DS, until your ex realises the consequences of her actions.
Unfortunately it might lead to an acceleration of her drinking as she will have more time to do it. Perversely though this could help - from what I've heard/read/seen alcoholics often need to reach rock-bottom before they appreciate the damage alcohol has done to their lives and their bodies.
It makes me feel so sad and angry to think of the physical harm your son could come to, not to mention the emotional upset the older boy is suffering by seeing his mother in such a state. You must be a nervous wreck every time you know she's in sole charge.
No idea what social services would be able to do to help (my experience was that alcoholism isn't taken as seriously as drug problems but in my case young children weren't involved) but Al-Anon might be a useful source of information as well as support.
Wishing you all the luck in the world in resolving this situation.
Ok, my Dad binge drank when I was little (Mum was there but effectively out of the equation as she was anti-d'd up to the hilt). I used to write in my diary every day that I wished someone would call Social to helkp me get out of there. At seventeen I even tried to kill myself rather than go home one day, as I knew he had been to the pub. He was incredibly violent when drunk but only with me and Mum. No-one wanted to (or ever did) intervene, even my 6'4" boyfriend sttod by and watched as he attacked me with a vacuum cleaner for god knows what!
I don't feel comfortable telling you all this, but it left me scarred for many years and it wasn't until I was 26 or so I got my life together. Even now my confidence drops easily.
PLEASE do something. Pick up the phone and call Childline otr the NSPCXC or the Social Services helpline now. Just do it. Coz I really thought when I was ten that my dad was gonna kill me, and he could have, and your ex might kill your child.
When he was sober he was a great Dad, and BTW has been sober now for ten years and is a great Grandad but he should not have had care of me at that time.
I would never dream of pushing a particular course of action on you. Only you will know at the end of the day the exact ramifications of the decision you ultimately make.
I just wanted to say this to you : you are not responsible for your ex-partner. She is responsible for giving up drinking and making herself fit to be a mother. Nothing you ever do or say will make her give up the booze, that is a thankless battle which you will never win.
I appreciate that if you take action you may exacerbate her behaviour, perhaps this could be the catalyst which she needs to make long term changes in her life. In the short term you can change your little boys life for the better.
Keep on posting.
Get the children out of there - I was in their situation and there is no good in that. She is risking their lives and mental health.
Also you have to remember that addicts are unbelievably selfish people. She will put the drink first. The best you can do is get the children out of there.
You may well precipitate a crisis for her but to be honest she probably needs to hit rock bottom in order to climb out of the hole she's in.
PeachyClair, I can understand what you mean. My mum has been deeply effected by her childhood and still is IMO. She's told me times when she got the buckle bit of a belt stuck in her head at age 9, and one night she heard her dad belting her mum, got up and went to the kitchen and picked up a knife. She said as soon as she snapped out of it, she looked down and saw the knife and put it back, but it's a terrible thing for a 10yo to face. She was anorexic from age 12 and desperately thin when her Grandmother rescued her at age 15 and took her to Canada. Her dad died of cirrohsis of the liver when he was only 39 and she was 16 and she was overjoyed!! Even today she doesn't speak to her mum.
When I was 16 I babysat for a woman with a 8yo and a 4yo. One day I was there and she was drunk, she kicked me in the face (I was sat on the floor) then laughed and got her 4yo to do the same. I went to a friends over the road to get cleaned up, and she came over a while later begging me not to tell my mum as she would phone the police and her kids would get taken from her. I was 16 and didn't want that responsibility to I didn't tell. She used to spend all her money on alcohol though, and didn't buy food or electricity!!
Terrible, terrible stories from everyone, but they are all true and need to be stopped. Children are a public concern and all that... Sorry!
Terrible stories indeed. I'm with the others: surely one's first responsibility has to be to ensure the mental and physical safety of the children. Apart from any physical abuse, living with an alcoholic destroys your self-confidence and twists your world. The children of alcoholics sometimes end up parenting the parent - or taking on the guilt for the situation.
I'm sure your ex loves her children. Paula Yates undoubtedly loved her kids - but it didn't stop her killing herself (intentionally or accidentally) and leaving a four year old to find her.
You know I've read everything so far and commonsense, which I already knew, is telling me to seek professional help. Yes I run the risk of upsetting her or tipping her over the edge, maybe even jeopardising my own legal entitlement to my little boy. What with the courts of today and forgive me ladies in stating this, pushing home a father's interest about his child and concerns to the men and women in authority. After all it isn't their child that's at risk and to them it's just another days work when they make that decision. No conscience. No remorse. No after though to reflect on what they may have done. Still I appreciate all of your opinions. Everyone is valued and taken into account. After all this is up to me. But when I stand there and see my little boy's smile I cannot help but see a sadness in his eyes. An uncertain furture where his life will go, with or without his mummy. In this day and age of terrorism, poverty, drugs and disease, it's hard to speculate which is the best course of action. But for the sake of my little man I have to soon. As a father I cry at night. I cry for him. Not me. Not for my poor ex because she needs help. But I shed tears for my son. I believe a child's future is an undiscovered country. Whatever route I take can only map out his future life. For that I trust in God's guidance.
Join the discussion
Please login first.