Drinking and Kids
June 25, 2009 · Posted in Mental Health, Parenting · Permalink

dedini106I guess drinking and motherhood is in the air.   I was recently interviewed by Kelley King Heyworth, a freelance writer for Parents.  She is writing a piece on books, blogs and bars celebrating mothers drinking together while caring for their small children.  I felt like “Debbie Downer” as I shared my perspective as a leader of mother’s groups but also as a therapist.  There are two sides to drinking with children around.  Social drinking with kids around can be celebratory and relaxing.  What is also true though, whether it is Valium, martinis at cocktail hour or chardonnay — “mother’s little helpers” can be used to escape boredom, take the edge off anger, self-medicate depression and to just plain check out. Taking care of children and a home (not mention work outside the home) in 2009 has the same sometimes draining and depressing quality that it did in 1959. Drinking and motherhood have long gone together.

I also shared my anecdotal impression as a therapist of twenty years that my clients who’s parents had alcohol problems had the most difficulty with depression and anger as adults. So when does a little fun turn into a child’s scary experience? A good question. Heyworth was going in search of some more data and we agreed to talk as the article was taking shape.

Then, the very next day Lisa Belkin wrote a post on Motherlode about Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay, and the column “Make Mine a Double, Tales of Twins and Tequila”. Wilder-Taylor has been the champion for the drinking mother set. That very day she admitted on her blog that she had a real problem with alcohol and was quitting drinking.

A sobering admission. And here are some sobering statistics. An estimated 46% of the population of the United States is related to someone who suffers from alcoholism. Women become dependent on alcohol more rapidly than men and have many more health complications including fertility problems.

It’s hard to differentiate recreational drinking from problem drinking because we live in a  alcoholic culture. Just try NOT drinking at a party or a dinner out with friends and watch people’s reactions. Provocative to say the least. So what’s the bottom line? We each need to monitor our own behavior and that of our close friends and family. We need to face the fact that alcohol misuse and abuse has an impact on family life that is incalculable –and that our children are paying careful attention. For the lucky poeple who can drink socially,  ocassionally, and responsibly– cheers!

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  1. lauren
    June 26th, 2009 | 12:17 pm

    This piece helped me realize that those of us fortunate enough not to have first-hand experience with alcoholism need to be supportive of those who struggle with the issue. The study regarding children of alcoholics is very disturbing – social gatherings revolving around alcohol must amplify this problem. This is something we can all as adults make adjustments to change.

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