Advice Column, Child, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting, Toddler, Tween & Teen

Understanding the effect of alcoholism on children

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  • Category Advice Column, Child, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting, Toddler, Tween & Teen

An Open Letter To My Teacher

Dear Teacher,

I think it’s time I told you why I have been acting out at school and crying sometimes. I think you know that something is wrong, because you keep asking me, “What’s the matter?” The reason I haven’t told you before is that I can’t talk to you in the hallway with all the other kids staring at me—and until now, I didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody about it.

I’m worried about my schoolwork. I keep getting in trouble for not doing my homework, and not listening in class. Sometimes I am so scared that I just get mad at everybody. I don’t mean to yell. I just feel like everyone is picking on me at home and at school.

You see, my dad has a drinking problem. It’s called “alcoholism.” It means that he can’t control his drinking. He comes home some nights really drunk and yells at all of us. Then Mom yells back at him for being drunk and spending all the money. Sometimes he hits her, or my sister and me for no reason, just because he is drunk.

Sometimes my sister and I are so scared that we hide in our room.

I used to hate my mom and dad for all that – Mom for yelling at Dad and making him even madder, and Dad for his drinking. I don’t hate them anymore because I found out why they were like that.

One day a lady came and talked to my mom, and I listened, too. She was the one who explained to us what alcoholism is. I learned that my dad was not horrible, just sick. He has a disease called alcoholism. She told us that when there is someone in the house with a drinking problem, the whole family gets hurt by it. She also told my mom about Al-Anon. That is where families and friends of problem drinkers go to understand the disease of alcoholism and how they can stop being so scared and mad all the time.

Now Mom goes to Al-Anon. It works, too. Mom doesn’t scream at Dad or us as much anymore. I go to Alateen, that’s for kids affected by someone else’s drinking. Sometimes we have friends that drink too. Now I understand, and it feels good not to be the only one with my kind of problem.

I think that teachers should know about alcoholism, because then they would understand kids like me. If you know of any kids who might have a problem with a drinking parent or a drinking friend, you could tell them where they can get help. It really helped me. 

Your Student


For nearly 70 years, Al-Anon Family Groups, globally, has helped the families who live with the disease of alcoholism.

The disease of alcoholism in a family member or friend affects children and teenagers in many ways that impact on their behaviour and ultimately, their school work. 

Frequently, students and educators do not realise that a relationship with an alcoholic could be a factor in poor performance, disruptive behaviour and other problems.

Alateen helps young people understand how alcoholism affects the lives of all who are associated with a problem drinker. It especially effective for children in the Teens & Teens age group

Alateen in South Africa

We have learned that learners are very cautious about attending Alateen meetings at their schools. 

In some areas Alateen meetings are held in the evenings in a nearby church hall, community centre or somewhere secure.

Parents/guardians must give written permission for Alateen attendance.

Alateen South Africa has groups across the country. 

A list of Alateen meetings may be found on our websites: — 24 hr Helpline – 0861 25 66 66

Literature & more information is available.  Just call us.  

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