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Dad and drink driving

(34 Posts)
GuybrushThreepwoodMP Fri 14-Aug-15 21:07:53

So to give a bit of background, my dad's lifestyle of smoking heavily and drinking led to a throat cancer diagnosis a few months ago. It was very advanced. The only possible treatment was drastic- complete removal of voice box and wind pipe. He now has no voice and breathes through a hole in his neck.

I have known for years that he smoked but he has always been very secretive about it and if it was ever mentioned, he became angry and defensive. What I didn't know was how much he was drinking. He's not a 'get really drunk' alcoholic and he's not abusive (actually he's lovely and gentle and kind). But he does drink every single day, often for a large proportion of the day and it is another thing he has been secretive about. I do know that he drives himself to the pub and back every day. I also know that he came to a family party at our house last year, had three beers and three glasses of wine and then drove him and my mum 200 miles home. I had assumed my teetotal mum was driving.
So this suggests to me that he either a) drinks so much that he has an incredibly high tolerance and probably is safe to drive after that much or b) has lost all sense of judgement about whether he is safe to drive. Either way, he shouldn't be driving at all.

Following his diagnosis and treatment, he stopped smoking and improved his nutrition. I believe he reduced his drinking but he does still drink and if I mention it he will become defensive and angry any then end the conversation. He is an alcoholic and as such, I don't believe he can drink moderately.

Now the problem. I am furious that he drives after drinking but I can't do anything because he immediately cuts off from any conversation about it.
But I need to put my foot down about him ever driving my child anywhere. Dd stays with them for weekend sometimes and they stay with us to help out with dd during my current pregnancy. I have told my mum that this is the rule (she and I have a good relationship and have talked at length about his problems) but I need to make absolutely sure that this rule is enforced. She says she will but it seems like a lot of pressure on her to explain it to him if he questions it. Should I approach it with him, knowing that it will cause a dramatic fall out and a lot of anger from him? Frankly, he can either think I'm being unreasonable and overprotective or he can sit down and think about why his beloved daughter might feel this way about him- I don't care. I just need to know that he will never be driving my child anywhere.
Or should I just make it clear to my mum and trust that she will make sure?

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 15-Aug-15 03:31:02

I would not trust your DM sadly. If she lets him drive 200 miles after drinking all of that, then she has long ago forgotten what is sensible when it comes to drink.

How much do you rely on the childcare? Could you pitch it to your DPs that you are worried about your DFs health and so, you think it's best if she does the driving from now on?

Have you spoken to Al-Anon?

avocadotoast Sat 15-Aug-15 03:46:21

Should I approach it with him

Bottom line: yes. I think you need to.

It will be difficult, of course it will, but it's not just himself he's putting at risk here.

paddyplaistow Sat 15-Aug-15 04:39:37

If your dad wants to smoke/drink - that is up to him. His body, his risk
If your mother gets in the car and lets him drive her when he is in drink - well, that is up to her as well.
But - your DC cannot make that decision.
No bloody way on earth should they be left with them.
Sorry for sounding harsh, but that is how I would feel .
They need a wake-up call, maybe ?
It really needs sorting.

paddyplaistow Sat 15-Aug-15 04:42:28

posted too soon - good luck, OP.
I feel very strongly about folks who drink and drive, see sad

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 07:15:18

I do too paddy. I have gone NC with friends in the past for doing it. It's unforgivable.
My dad has done a lot of unforgivable stuff. Still love him though. Still my dad, see.

I liked it when I was a child and my parents were flawless and invincible.

LavenderLeigh Sat 15-Aug-15 07:26:48

I think you have to tackle it with both of them together.
Your Dad knows what he is doing is dangerous, not just for him and any passengers in the car, but also for pedestrians and other people in cars. He is choosing to ignore this though.
It will be very hard and they may both try to minimise what he is doing/what your mum is condoning/tacitly encouraging. Why on earth did she let him drive after drinking all that??
For your DDs sake, if you cannot trust your DF not to drink and drive, and cannot trust your DM to ensure he does not drink and drive, then your DD is not safe in their care if there is the remotest possibility he may be driving.
Your DF is in denial about his drinking and the impact it is having on his family. You cannot allow the situation where everyone ignores his drinking and his drinking and driving because it is going to impact on your DD sooner or later.
I've been in a similar situation (DF not safe to drive because of age/medical conditions) There was a huge row and it was pretty unpleasant, but it had to be done.

Best of luck

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 08:03:12

Lavender I don't think he does realise he's putting people in danger. The denial of an ashamed addict is incredibly powerful.

caravanista13 Sat 15-Aug-15 08:43:51

You definitely need to talk to your Dad. However, alcohol is notorious for affecting the judgement so I'd be worried about ever putting him in the position where he might drive your daughter. Even if he agrees not to, he may not be thinking rationally if the situation arises.

LavenderLeigh Sat 15-Aug-15 09:11:24

Denial is different though, Guy.
He knows it is dangerous and illegal to drink and drive. BUT he still chooses to do it. It is a deliberate choice and action on his part and your DM is going along with it. She's enabling him.
That's why I think you have to tackle them together.
My DF was exactly the same when I had to tackle him about the fact he was no longer capable of driving safely - total denial, excuses about "just driving locally" etc. It was pretty hideous but I had to do it.
Imagine if he hits a child and is found to be drunk. How would you and your family ever get over that? He will make excuses, will shout, tell you that you are being ridiculous and he is perfectly safe - but he is lying and you know that.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:20:47

Lavender lying and believing what you say are not the same thing. I am not making excuses but he doesn't believe he isn't capable of driving. He is a 60 year old man who has slipped gradually into this over 40 years. If you don't understand that then you don't understand addiction.

LavenderLeigh Sat 15-Aug-15 09:29:56

I do understand addiction.
I also understand that many addicts lie and their families do not challenge them on this because it can make their lives even more unbearable.
But in this situation I could not and would not chose the option of putting my head in the sand.

You know your DF drinks and drives.
It's your choice whether or not you do something about it.
Look at the current news about the driver in the Glasgow bin lorry case - he knew he was not safe to drive, had been given specific medical advice not to drive and chose to ignore it.
Just like your DF.
You can choose to ignore the fact your DF drinks and drives and justify this with "But he's an addict, so it's different" with regard to his choices.

Only it isn't different. The risks of him drinking and driving are exactly the same for a non-addict. He's a danger to himself and others every single time he has a drink and then gets behind the wheel.

There's a reason Scotland now has a "zero drink" policy. Even one drink can affect your reactions. Three pints and three glasses of wine is a huge amount to drink and then drive. It's such blatant disregard for everyone else that it's frightening

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:30:16

My point is I can't change him. I have been trying for years, we all have. He let a big fucking tumour grow rather than accept he has a problem.
So all I can do is take steps to protect the people I love from him. I can't protect him from himself and I can't protect the rest of the world from him because I can't change him.
I know I'm getting defensive but suggestions that I am somehow responsible for his stupidity are really upsetting. I've tried.

I also have to protect my mum. If there is a huge fallout with me and him then all it means is that my mum deals with it alone and without my love and support. I can't do that to her.
You can call that enabling if you want. I'm calling it self preservation.

Penfold007 Sat 15-Aug-15 09:31:49

I think you need to find alternative child care. DF and DM are under tremendous pressure and stress coping with his cancer diagnosis and an uncertain future. It's unlikely DM will be able to stop her H driving when he's been drinking.

You could speak to them both making it clear you know DD drinks and drives. Tell him directly he can no longer drive with your child in the car.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:32:12

Jesus Christ, don't patronise me with a lecture about how one drink affects your ability to drive. I know that. That's why I'm here, that's why I asked the question. Nowhere have I excused what he does. I hate him for it. I hate him for a lot of things.

Leaving this thread now as finding it upsetting and unhelpful.

PurpleWithRed Sat 15-Aug-15 09:33:52

I am furious that he drives after drinking but I can't do anything because he immediately cuts off from any conversation about it.

Yes you can, you can report him to the police next time you know he gets in a car after drinking. For everyone's safety he needs his licence taken away from him, seeing as he's completely incapable of making a sound judgement about it himself.

Mintyy Sat 15-Aug-15 09:40:09


People are trying to help!

There is nothing you can actually do other than not allow your parents unsupervised access to your dd. I certainly wouldn't trust your parents to look after a child in the circumstances you have described.

You need to say to your Mum, I'm really sorry Mum but I don't 100% trust you BOTH to guarantee that you will never allow dd to be driven in a car when dad has had a drink. The 40 years of normalising of this behaviour between you means that I just can't believe you will never do this.

I'm not really sure what other solution you expect Mumsnet to come up with?

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:49:09

I don't know. I'm sorry for being defensive. This is really hard and it upsets me if I feel like I have to take responsibility for what he's doing. I just want to protect my mum and my dd and I'm frightened.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:50:06

And I don't feel like explaining the dangers of drink driving to me is trying to help. It's trying to make me feel like it's my fault. Which is how I already feel.

Mintyy Sat 15-Aug-15 09:51:57

Yes, people are very sympathetic and no one is saying it's your fault.

It is hard, but you are doing it for your daughter.

LavenderLeigh Sat 15-Aug-15 09:53:15

You're finding it upsetting?
So am I
I find it incredibly upsetting that you will condone your DF drinking and driving because you won't phone the police and report him
This isn't just about your child you know.
You know the risks, you say - well do something to stop this dangerous man. Like reporting him.
I bloody well know how difficult it is to deal with as I was in almost exactly the same situation. Only I tackled my father about it BECAUSE I KNEW IT WAS DANGEROUS.
You say you know it is dangerous but you don't want to do anything.
So do nothing and don't try to patronise me with "I know it's dangerous but it s different for me"
Because it isn't.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 09:58:53

Final message.
I haven't condoned it.
They live 200 miles away so I don't know when he drinks. The party last year was the first and only time I have known he has done it. I approached it with him then. Two weeks later he was dying of cancer in hospital. He only finished treatment last month. I have no idea if he now drinks and drives and no way of finding out. i have tried and i don't know what else to do. I don't trust him not to which is why I want to protect my daughter.

Saying that I have condoned this is unbelievably nasty and cruel.

I haven't said anything is different for me.

I am frightened and upset and I'm terribly sorry that this situation has upset you too. You haven't tried to help one bit.

Shukran008 Sat 15-Aug-15 10:00:49

Would you consider reporting him the next time you know he's had one or two drinks?
If he doesn't realise how serious it is then he needs the wake up call.
I'm assuming hes retired? So no impact on work if he was banned?

ovenchips Sat 15-Aug-15 10:01:29

Hi Guybrush. What a hideous situation for you.

However, I agree about stopping unsupervised contact with your DD. I don't see another alternative to your very legitimate concerns about your dad driving drunk with your DD in the car.

I can appreciate that telling them this will unleash a shitstorm. But that particular shitstorm is actually unbelievably more attractive than an alternative involving your daughter and other innocent people.

Sending you strength.

NeuNewNouveau Sat 15-Aug-15 10:01:53

You do need to report it to the police, particularly that he drives to the pub and back each day as that will be easier to catch.

At the moment by just talking about when your daughter is in the car, you are saying it's ok for him to drink drive as long as your daughter is ok. Well no it's not, he is as much a risk to other drivers and pedestrians as he is to himself and your family.

It's your moral duty to stop that and the only way that will happen is through him being caught. You can report anonymously re the trips to the pub and the police will keep an eye out, nobody will know it's you as it could be anyone locally.

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