Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Growing up with an alcoholic parent

If you know me personally from growing up then you'll know that my childhood wasn't normal after losing my mum to breast cancer in 1997. After my mum died my dad's drinking became a massive problem and something that completely ruined my childhood. This isn't an easy thing to talk about but maybe my story will help someone in the same position.

The word "alcoholic" was never used when talking about my dad's drinking problem but he depended on alcohol like he couldn't live without it. It caused so many problems and arguments, that life at times was unbearable. Even though I witnessed a lot of my dad's drinking thankfully I didn't see all of it as from the age of 8 I went to a boarding school. When he hadn't had a drink, he was a good man, he always went out of his way for people. He always used the expression that he came from Givington, as in he always gave a lot to other people. Which is true, he gave a lot to charity and helped a lot of our family members out. When he was at his worst with drinking he mentally abused me, told me that I was a mistake and comments about my weight and so on. Because he was a single parent, I always became a major inconvenience when he was drunk and he never filtered what he said.

Going on holiday with my dad was an horrendous experience and we had a lot of holidays, sometimes 2 or 3 times a year. Being in a foreign country with an alcoholic parent who is meant to be responsible for you is really scary. You're not in a familiar place and most of the time I would dread school holidays. When you do have an alcoholic parent, bringing school friends home doesn't happen because I'd be scared of what would happen if my dad got drunk while I had a friend with me. Even at school he would collect me for a holiday and he'd be drunk, once he even passed out on the school grounds surrounded by school kids.

Having an alcoholic parent is embarrassing, scary and upsetting. If losing my mum wasn't enough I then had to be brought up by a single parent with a drink problem. Has my dad's drinking issue affected my life? Yes it has, I don't mind a drink but until recently I'd never liked to drink at home. I've never really understood why people feel the need to drink copious amounts of alcohol at home but I know that to many people it's like a treat after a tough day at work or a tough day with the kids. Now that I'm a parent myself I would be horrified if Joey was ever in the same position as me as a child. I would never ever want to cause my son so much upset in his life. But I do worry about when Joey is older and he starts to drink alcohol, teenagers these days hang around in parks drinking until all hours.

It got to a point with the drunken abuse I was receiving from my dad that I told him I wanted him to hand me over to social services, this is completely true, at the time I felt that my life would have been better with a foster or adoptive family. Even when I was at boarding school we had started the process of me being fostered and the thought of it made me happy. I wanted to be in a normal family, doing normal family things. A similar situation to someone in the public eye is the sad story of footballing legend George Best (my dad's idol) who battled alcoholism for most of his life, died in 2005 of multiple organ failure thought to be caused by his years of alcohol abuse. Last month, George's son Callum appeared on Lorraine to talk about the difficulties he witnessed with an alcoholic parent as a child. He appeared on Lorraine as part of a campaign for NACO The National Association for Children of Alcoholics to raise awareness of Children Of Alcoholics Week which was back in February.

When I was struggling with my dad's drinking problem I didn't know their were organisations out there who could help, if I did it would have been great to speak to someone. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics offer support to children growing up where one or both parents are Alcoholics. Even though their were friends/family who tried to save me from the situation I was in, I felt that it wasn't up to them to help me when they had families of their own. But I wish I had been able to speak to someone outside of family or friends.
It's been nearly 10 years since my dad died and I often wonder whether things would have been different if he was alive today. Would he have stopped drinking if I'd begged him? I can only hope that he would of chose his daughter over the drink but who knows. Alcoholism is a disease at the end of the day and I know it would have been hard for him. Now that I don't have my dad I wish everyday that things were different and that I could have enjoyed my childhood and my relationship with my dad, my whole childhood is just sad.

Anyone reading this who has issues with an alcoholic parent, please dont suffer in silence, let someone know if you're experiencing the same issue. If you don't tell anyone then nobody can help you.

Thanks for reading


  1. I can totally relate to your words and feeling in this post. I blog but haven't yet got the courage to blog about it x

    1. Thanks for your comment. I've had this post sat in my drafts for ages and felt scared about posting it, especially for people I know to read it. It's out their now so I just hope people find it useful or it helps someone. Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it x

  2. I completely sympathise with you lovely. I had an alcoholic parent when growing up and it completely ruined my childhood. I haven't had the courage to blog about it in case said parent read it as we're still in contact, although its never forgiven. xo

    1. That's a bit of a tricky one. If you did want to blog about it then maybe have a conversation with your parent first instead of them maybe just stumbling across it. Alcohol has a lot to answer for doesn't it x