Heavy drinking in functional adults often begins as a way to relax. You need that glass of wine at the end of a long day to unwind, right? The next thing you know it’s two, then three glasses before you can finally feel like yourself again. You start drinking so much that you’re not sleeping well and you wake up with a hangover, but you still need it every night. You know that you’re not an alcoholic, but you might be starting to think you have a problem. And if you think that you are the only one who is a slave to your habit, you’re wrong. Your children see everything you do and are affected by every choice you make. Here are some important signs to look for that should convince you that your kids need you to cut back:
- You fight more than ever. A family with an addict is more likely to have conflict than one without an alcoholic. The fighting could be between you and your partner or you and the kids, but it is disruptive and upsetting either way.
- Organization is out the window. You used to run a fairly tight ship, but now schedules are chaotic and appointments get missed. Your kids are confused and don’t have the usual routine anymore. The house has gotten messier and no one is cleaning it.
- You lose your temper. You used to be patient with your kids, even when they acted out. Now you lash out over the smallest things. A messy room or unfinished homework makes you lose your cool, especially before you have been able to get to your first drink of the evening.
- Your kids are getting in trouble at school. Your kids, normally well-behaved and respectful, are causing trouble in school. Maybe they are skipping classes or lashing out at other kids. Their grades may be slipping, or they have stopped getting involved in extracurricular activities they used to enjoy.
- They are showing signs of stress or anxiety. A parents’ drinking can cause kids to worry, or feel stressed. This is not always easy to see, but look for signs that they aren’t sleeping well or that they are getting physically ill more often than is normal.
- You are missing pick-ups and play dates. When you drink too much, you tend to forget things, like when you were supposed to pick your child up from school. You might also be too buzzed to drive your kids to their play dates, soccer practices and other events.
- You’re too tired to get involved. You used to help your kids with their homework, tuck them in at night with a story or just spend time doing their favorite activities. You find yourself increasingly too tired to get involved anymore.
- Your child is sneaking a drink. Kids whose parents have a relaxed attitude about drinking or drugs are more likely to experiment. You might have a child start stealing from your stash or getting drunk at a party.
If you notice any of these signs in your life and you can connect them to your drinking, it’s time to make a change. You can cut back now and make a real difference. You don’t need to be an alcoholic to have a problem with drinking. Set some guidelines for your drinking and tell your partner or a friend so they can keep you accountable. You’ll find that you feel better and you have more time and patience for your kids. They will thank you.