Two days ago it was the feast day for the Ven. Matt Talbot, who along with St Monica is the patron of those who have problems with alcohol and alcoholism. He was himself a serious alcoholic who found redemption in his Faith and through that grace of God stopped drinking.
Back in my college teaching days I was booked to teach a whole lot to youngsters about sex and drugs but I never got asked to teach about drinking. This is odd really, when I look around and see that I have hardly met anyone whose life is destroyed by drugs, even in my nursing days (although there were a few certainly) but I have seen sex destroy people and so so many get destroyed by drink.
I still miss a friend who died at the age of 39 and can’t help but remember him telling me twelve years earlier that he didn’t expect to make it to see 4o.
The misuse of alcohol is so pandemic I wonder if any of us have families where no one has a drink problem. When I think about my family and friends I know so many who either are working their way up AA twelve steps or have been doing so.
It’s a disease (and I think I can use that word) that the NHS just doesn’t want to deal with. While huge amounts of money has been pumped into “stop smoking” campaigns complete with glossy pamphlets and expensive therapies, alcoholics can’t even get help with the DTs these days.
Meanwhile even the media has noticed that children are becoming alcoholic at horribly young ages, aided by marketing of kiddy vodka bottles.
The problem we parents have when teaching our children about drinking and how and when and how much, is that although it can destroy lives when misused, it can be fine and even healthy when drunk properly. It’s not like crack or porn where it should be avoided all together.
It’s something that comes up with us home ed mums when we are sitting together with a cuppa. We all know or are related to someone who hasn’t been able to drink properly. For some the problem isn’t just “they drink too much really,” it’s life destroying alcoholism and we are grateful for AA.
We tend to conclude that overall sensible drinking is caught rather than taught and certainly stats would suggest that those who end up drinking to self-abuse levels have lived with people who have done the same. But many of us know or are related to alcoholics who began drinking for other reasons in families where alcohol abuse wasn’t an issue until they did it. So, we conclude, just drinking sensibly ourselves isn’t the answer. For those who have a parent with a drink problem, just drinking sensibly is not an option as alcohol can’t be in the house.
What then are we, as parents, to do, to teach our children?
I’ll come back to this….