Yes, Mommie Dearest

by The Discovering Alcoholic on September 21, 2010

Joan Crawford: Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? DID YOU?
Christina Crawford: Yes, Mommie.
Joan Crawford: Yes, Mommie what?
Christina Crawford: Yes, Mommie Dearest.
Joan Crawford: When I told you to call me that, I wanted you to mean it.

They say confession is good for the soul and certainly there is a feeling of liberation when we unburden ourselves to our peers. I think I’ve heard it all in recovery meetings from “I have been a terrible friend” to “I should have been sentenced to life”, but it is extremely rare to hear anyone speak of how of bad a parent they’ve been. Sure, we’ve probably all heard the regrets of the parents with older, estranged kids or those lamenting the fact their children have been taken away. It is my experience however, that those still using or drinking are much more likely to say, “But, I’ve been a good parent.”

In reality though this is patently untrue, one can not be a good parent and have an addiction because no matter what the drug ALWAYS comes first. It’s the definition. An addict or alcoholic only shows any consideration for their children after they have fed their addiction. When in the throes of an addiction the drug of choice is one’s top priority, not ballgames or recitals. I get grief for saying this, but it is true in every case: If you are a practicing alcoholic or addict, your kids are at best number two in your life.

In rare moments of what I sure is very painful introspection, parents in recovery have told me that while using they would attend to the needs of their children out of a perverted sense of responsibility. They gained no satisfaction from this act other than a justification that now their duty was done, it was time to feed. During active addiction, their drug of choice is the only thing that can provide any emotional reward. It’s the nature of the beast, an addiction eventually consumes all thoughts and actions and children of addicted parents will eventually be neglected at best but the results are usually much worse.

Inevitably someone will read this and respond by saying that they are still using, but that they are a good parent.

My answer: I am the wrong person you need to convince, think about it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grownup July 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I was a child of an alcoholic. My kid brother eventually hung himself because of the messed up home life an alcoholic father provides and it’s impact on a developing psyche. No…emphatically no..addicted persons do NOT make good parents. Neglect, indifference, resentment, anger, and eventually abuse ensue….not a good way to develop a healthy person. Maybe this is part of an honest self assessment that is really hard to admit.


2 Alcoholic Blogger September 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Good post. I totally agree. As an addict, the drug of choice comes first, and as sad as it is, the only place for the children is to come in second. You really can’t argue that when you are a person still using.


3 Paul September 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I agree with you TDA, I don’t think addicts can be good parents – ever. Luckily my son wasn’t born until after I gave up the booze; he will never see me as a drunk. This does not mean though that I’m the perfect parent because I’m not. I adore my son and the fact that I work from home means that I’m with him twenty-four hours a day. Despite this though, I spend a lot of time in my head; sometimes even though I’m in the same room with him I’m not really there. I always feel bad about this because my son is growing up fast and I fear that I’m going to miss out. I’m too caught up in my own self-absorbtion. I can blame it on the the fact that I make my living as a writer but this is probably just an excuse.


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