How Can I Help My Children?

When there is a drinking problem in the family, all family members are affected.

 Explaining the Disease

“It's easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that the children don't know what is going on. But if we are really honest, we will see that the children do know something is terribly wrong. Children have an amazing capacity for dealing with the truth. Shrouding the illness in mystery and lies is far more frightening than a down-to-earth talk about the disease of alcoholism.” (from the Al-Anon Family Groups pamphlet, How Can I Help My Children? [P-9])

Help is available for your family in Al-Anon Family Groups. In many communities, Alateen meetings are available for the teenaged family members. Teens are also welcome at Al-Anon meetings. Generally Alateen is for ages 13 to 18; note that some groups allow those younger than 13 to attend. Children must be able to participate in a shared learning experience, as Al‑Anon and Alateen group meetings are for mutual support. Alateen members share their own experience with using the Alateen program to deal with the problem drinkers in their lives. Al-Anon members who have been through a certification process serve as Alateen Group Sponsors.

If your children are too young for Alateen, the best help you can offer them is to attend Al-Anon Family Group meetings yourself.  It is similar to the directions given on an airplane:  put your own oxygen mask on first, and then try to help others.  By learning more about the disease of alcoholism, and sharing with others who have experienced similar situations, you will be better able to support your children in dealing with your family members.