Alcoholism is destroying daughter's family
DEAR AMY: Our daughter, who lives with us with her two beautiful children (ages 6 and 2), is struggling with how to deal with her common-law husband. For years, "Jimmy" has been an alcoholic. They are now separated due to his excessive drinking. He has moved out, been arrested twice in three weeks for DUI, attacked medical personnel in the detox center and was dragged away from our home by police for attempting to assault me and take away his kids while in a drunken stupor. He also attempted suicide twice. Lately he has been living with the last two friends he hasn't completely alienated. But one friend kicked him out and the other had to call the cops on him. Now, whenever he calls, he tells our daughter that his drinking is all her fault. He calls her horrible names and basically blames her for all his failings. Our daughter had been extremely supportive of him, but it's over now. She is filing for full custody of the kids, but it breaks our hearts when our granddaughter wants to see Daddy and we have to make excuses. We are all trying to figure out why a man would throw everything he has away just so he can stay drunk all the time. Besides going to Al-Anon meetings, do you have any suggestions?
-- Baffled in Denver
DEAR BAFFLED: If your daughter's partner is at this dangerous level of his addiction, I believe that your family will need professional support, in addition to Al-Anon.
You should detach from the concept that this man is making rational choices. He is beyond choices at this point, and your focus should be on staying safe. You don't have to lie to your granddaughter. You can tell her that her daddy has alcoholism and that you all hope he can get better. She should be encouraged to write to him and may be able to see him in a professionally supervised setting if he is sober.
Your daughter needs professional support and coaching to minimize contact. Therapy with an addiction specialist will help.