THE FEDERATION OF MOTHER AND CHILD HOMES AND SHELTERS
You, your child and alcohol Ho w does your ch ild feel about your dr ink ing ?
Dear Parent You have a little son or daughter. Your days together seem to fly by. Watching your child grow and develop is a unique opportunity. Your child is important to you and your love, care and support are vital for her well-being. You are her comfort and her safety.
A childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world is full of strange and
and games, children need the presence of
wonderful experiences. Playing is an
a safe and dependable adult.
important part of everyday life. Thanks to
Little boys and girls learn by observing
their lively imaginations, childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives are
everything and everyone around them.
never dull: a cardboard box can transform
They will also be aware of how their
into a castle and, in the dark, shadows
mother, father and other people around
might look like ghosts. In addition to fun
them use alcohol.
le ar ni ng from you? Wha t is your ch ild
You ca n he lp your ch ild fee l safe and sec ur e.
Ch ildre n th riv e and on ev er yd ay rout ines te nt ion. pa re nt al lo ve and at
What does your child need? Your child’s view of life will largely be based on their experiences at home. What children want is ordinary, everyday life and quality time with their family. You are the foundation for your child’s life.
Your presence and your time are important
that tomorrow will be very much like
for your child. When parents look after their
yesterday helps children feel safe and secure.
child and care for them, the child learns that they are valued and loved. Activities such as eating, washing and
From their parents, children also learn how to recognise their emotions and how to express them. It is important to teach children
sleeping bring structure to a child’s life.
that their feelings are accepted and it is OK
Children look to adults to make sure
to show them.
that the family’s everyday routines are
Sorrows and disappointments are a natural
maintained. They are completely reliant on
part of life, even for little ones, but children
the care they receive from adults. Knowing
should never be expected to face them alone.
Routines equal stability and security.
Alcohol changes you Many parents think their alcohol consumption is harmless but their child may well see the situation differently. Children are sensitive: they see, understand and remember things much better than adults often presume. Even if you are an otherwise safe and secure presence in your child’s life, seeing you under the influence of alcohol may be a frightening experience for them. You are the most important adult in your child’s life.
Children can pick up on even the smallest
attend to their child’s needs. The parent
changes in their parents. A parent that has
may be physically present but in a world of
been drinking will smell unfamiliar, talk
their own. A child may even end up being
strangely and might even move differently.
left on their own for a time, which might
The parent’s whole personality might
be frightening for them. Just a few minutes
change, a calm and quiet mother becoming
can seem like an eternity when you are
loud and talkative or vice versa. Children do
not have the capacity to make sense of this change and it may be distressing for them. Alcohol always impairs the parent’s ability to pay attention to their child and
When the adult’s concentration lapses and their reactions slow down, they might expose their child to dangers that would otherwise not have existed.
Have you thought about how your child sees your alcohol consumption?
tiv e. Ch ildre n ar e pe rcep Th ey wi ll no tice ange s in you. ev en th e sm all est ch
Your home â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a place of safety Each child experiences parental alcohol use in their own unique way. However, all children would rather their parents remained sober. Witnessing you under the influence of alcohol is a source of fear, shame and anxiety for your child. You create your home. Alcohol can be associated with arguments,
and negative emotions towards them are a
even violence. Witnessing aggression is
source of confusion. They may experience
always a scary experience for a child. They
feelings of shame or hatred and even feel
may feel frightened, either for themselves
responsible for the parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; behaviour.
or for their parents. Constant arguments
For a child, emotions they cannot
and unpredictable behaviour can make the
process are a burden. These may manifest
home seem unsafe. In a tense atmosphere,
as anxiety or physical symptoms such as
children will be permanently on their guard.
headaches and stomach upsets. Children
When they have been drinking, parents
can become very preoccupied with what
may make promises they cannot keep. If
they see and hear and need an adult who
you are suffering from a hangover, a plan to
can help them make sense of any difficult
go swimming is easily forgotten. Your child
experiences. You can help them feel
had been looking forward to spending time
carefree by making time to discuss issues
with you and the disappointment hurts.
that trouble them. Do you think you need
Seeing their parents drunk is painful for children. Children love their parents
to talk to your child about alcohol use in your family?
What is the atmosphere like in your home?
l me mb er Your ch ild is an equa of your fa mi ly. and Lis te n to your ch ild ca re . show th em th at you
An alternative to alcohol? A quarter of all children in Finland are adversely affected by their parents’ drinking. The majority of all alcohol is consumed in the home. All mothers and fathers should consider their relationship with alcohol. ious . Your ch ild is pr ec A quarter of all children in Finland are
alcohol in moderation, like when you are
adversely affected by their parents’ drinking.
sitting down for a nice meal or have visitors.
The majority of all alcohol is consumed in
However, regular alcohol consumption
the home. All mothers and fathers should
can easily lead to addiction and leave your
consider their relationship with alcohol.
child feeling vulnerable. Alcohol should
All parents need an outlet for stress and
never be an everyday part of family life.
tiredness. A few beers, however, are not a good long-term solution. Your child wants
Do you want to make a change?
to play with you, to spend time together as a
If alcohol consumption in your family
family. Give your time and in exchange you
is making your child uncomfortable and
will be rewarded with your child’s joy and
uneasy, you can make a change. Contact
your local child health clinic to discuss what
Not all alcohol consumption is harmful. On occasion, you might want to enjoy
support your family needs. See alcohol through your child’s eyes.
th e sk at in g rin k A tr ip to th e pa rk or of f ste am is a gr ea t wa y to let th an alc oh ol . â&#x20AC;&#x201C; mu ch mo re ef fe ct ive
Furt he r re ading:
www.lastenseurassa.fi www.lasinenlapsuus.fi www.mll.fi/perheille/ www.paihdelinkki.fi www.a-klinikka.fi
The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters Asemamiehenkatu 4 | 00520 Helsinki | p. 09 4542 440 / +358 9 4542 440 etkl.fi
GRAPHIC DESIGN: ROHKEA RUUSU (2020)