You your child and alcohol. How does your child feel about your drinking?

Page 1


In English

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 child’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, children’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 – 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 parents’ 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 . – mu ch mo re ef fe ct ive

Furt he r re ading:

Please visit:

The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters Asemamiehenkatu 4 | 00520 Helsinki | p. 09 4542 440 / +358 9 4542 440


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