What to Say When A Parent Drinks Too Much Alcohol

An older couple receiving advice

If you are a child of an alcoholic parent life can be very tough. The turmoil caused by parental drinking has immense effects on the development of a child. Children often feel over stimulated because they are trying not to create any added problems. Stress and depression are almost guaranteed consequences from the increased tension in the household. Stress compiled when the child must take on a more significant role in the family in an attempt to pick up where the parent fails. The long term consequences of alcohol abuse in a home is even worse. Children from alcoholic homes are much more likely to develop substance abuse issues. They have difficultly getting and maintaining healthy relationships. Children of alcohol abuse are more prone to seek attention and support from the wrong and dangerous sources. Finally, the chance that they have legal problems increases exponentially. Thankfully, there are several things children of alcohol abusers can do. The first is to confront the parent when they are sober, but what do you say. How do you express your concerns? Here are a few pointers to help children speak to their parents about alcohol consumption and abuse.


First things first, while the parent is drinking excessively and in the wrong it is important to remember you are still the child. Even the young adult must watch his/her tone when talking to a parent who drinks too much. If you attack the parent aggressively and demand or threaten those, chances are you will not get your point across. Parents will see this as a flagrant act of disrespect. They can neglect your claims and punish you. Instead it is important to speak to the adult as an adult and be as mature as you can. Talk to your parent when they are not drinking and the both of you are calm. By approaching your parent in this manner, regardless of your age, they are going to be impressed with your approach, concern, and maturity. Using the correct tone will increase your chances of a successful discussion.

What To Say

“Mom/Dad I am concerned about the amount of alcohol you drink.” By starting the conversation like this you make your parents aware that you have noticed the amount of alcohol they drink. They are now aware that you are concerned about them. You have not accused them of anything. By using terms like alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or alcoholic you can cause them to put up a defensive front. These words have negative connotations that most do not want to be a part of or admit to. “I have noticed that you are not in a good mood or sad when you drink.”Again, you do not state they have an “issue”, rather that there is a pattern to their drinking, which they might not have known or have chosen to ignore. By producing this image they can see that you are aware of their feelings. People that are abusing alcohol or drugs cannot see how they behave. By showing your parents how they act can help them realize their problem.

“When you drink you make me feel ______.”

An important thing to tell your parents is the way their drinking makes you feel. Whether it makes you sad, depressed, anxious, anger, or any other feeling they should be made aware. Most people with substance abuse problems cannot see the pain and damage they are causing to those around them. They do not want to cause this pain and often are as hurt as you are, when they are made aware of the pain they cause. Parents must know how their drinking makes their children feel.

“I hope you stop or reduce your drinking so that we can be happier and healthier. If things cannot get better I will have to talk with someone and possible move in with other family or a friends family.”

You should let your parents know what you want out of this conversation. Asking them to stop drinking all at once is unreasonable. Having them decrease the amount they drink is a great start. Telling your parent that you want everyone to be happier, healthier, and stronger from this point on shows your care and commitment to the family. Although, if things progressively get worse than you will be forced to call for help or move out. The safety of the children is the most important thing. Therefore, you must follow up after your conversation.



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