Talking to Children About Recovery

I’ve been sober longer than my kids have been alive. I use to be really into AA but I’ve backed off over the years. I still try to live the principles however. I find them invaluable. I want to start talking to my oldest child about addiction, solving problems without turning to alcohol or drugs. Basically I want them to have the problem solving tools that I didn’t learn about until I got sober. I dont really know where to start though. I know I’m not the first to have this question. Hopefully some of you can point me in the right direction. I thank you in advance.


I have no information to share, but very interested in the answers…:blush:


I was 9 years sober when my first son was born and 11 when my second son was born they will be 27/25 this year they know im a alkie and go to meetings my sons dont drink or smoke not my teaching maybe example ? their choice , wish you well


I also have 2 sons. 22 & 19 and they saw drunk dad last when they were early teens. Since getting sober we’ve had discussions about this disease lots. My oldest, wants nothing to do with drinking or drugs but my youngest is mini me… fucking polar opposites since they were little.

I began with how our disease is of the mind, how our DNA/family history and the right environment make us more likely to develop it and gave examples of some of the shit I would do back then to keep doing what I was doing. I’ve been honest from the start.

As needed or as situations require I hint about similarities between my past and shit my younger son is doing/going through to try get him to look, and own his behavior. He will be done, when he’s. I can’t control that, all I can do is just love them and be sober & ready to help when/if the time comes.

Hope this helps.


My teenage daughter has seen me drunk and now 1 1/2 years sober. She is fully aware of the genetic component of alcoholism and what happens as a result of introducing alcohol into one’s system. Almost every member of my family is a recovering alcoholic. I didn’t start drinking until she was 15 and it was a quick disastrous slope. What I’ve noticed is that my change in behavior (and demeanor) has changed hers. I think that each person/child ultimately makes their own decisions - that said, I believe the information upfront is helpful (it was for me at her age as I didn’t want to be like my parents) … and I have watched is real time how modeling - under ALL circumstances no matter what - NOT using alcohol (or food or drugs) …. makes a difference.


I met an older man at my church when I was young (maybe 6 or 7?) and he just kept on talking

All I really remember about that is that he cared about me and he told me several times - no matter what you do, remember that alcohol is not the solution. Alcohol is never the solution.

I have been proud of him for as long as I can remember even though he was still struggling to stay sober until I left home. I’m even more proud of him now that I know what it’s like to be consumed by a vice like that.

Do your kids already know anything about your past with substance? How old are they?

I’m a teacher/tutor and sometimes have to have conversations with kids that their parents won’t have


It will be his choice, he experienced me in active use and visited me in treatment centers. He took a caring attitude during my worst periods and also set his boundaries that he didn’t want to stay at my place if I was drinking. Really proud on him doing that, not the caring stuff since a child should never be in that position towards his parents. He’s fifteen now and had his first beers on some parties. Discussed it with him on some occasions, but not really in a dramatic or lecturing way.

As his dad I belief I should be there for him unconditionally of were his life will lead him. Without putting a lot of anxiety and fear in him.


My kids only know I dont drink. My oldest is 13 and she is a square, thank god. I’ve explained alcoholism a little bit but not a serious sit down about it. I can see her starting to deal with problems by not dealing with them though… Thing is that I want them to use these principles to deal with stuff. However, I completely understand that I only started using them when I had to. So I don’t want to ram this stuff into them and have them roll their eyes at me.


Great topic.

I grew up in a family run by alcohol and alcoholics.
As a young kid I didn’t see this as a problem as most times were cheerful and always a party in a way.
As I started getting older I realized it was not that much fun or joyous.
I made a decision as a young teen I didn’t want that lifestyle.
However life threw many curveballs my way. Some I kind of encounter by choice others were a product of my environment. I quickly started drinking to drown out whatever issues I was facing. It was easier than to deal with such craziness I was having to deal with. Needless to say I became dependent on alcohol very quickly. However in my head it was ok. I was in my early 20’s and every single person I knew drank just like me. Fast forward another 10 years and I found myself drinking daily. No reason to do so anymore. I have a stable household, stable income, and most importantly healthy kids. My teen boy had already started pointing out how I was an alcoholic. At this point I already knew it too I just couldn’t get myself to stop but having my son whom I want to be the biggest example for saying those words and labeling me that way hurt a lot and was a big wake up call. He loves being an athlete and he is good at it too. He says he wants nothing to do with drugs and alcohol. He says he knows they destroy his body. He is now seeing me recover. He likes the sober podcast I listen too. He even gets into them as well. I know that ultimately like others have said it will be his choice. He’s had first hand look into alcoholism and dependency issues. I can only hope that my journey will only reassure him that alcohol is something he never wants in his life.

Sorry for being so long winded.


I’ve talked openly to my kids when they became old enough about how destructive alcohol can be. I’ve told them to be careful because they come from a long line of alcoholics. It’s their path, I just want them to know they can talk openly to me without me preaching to them, just because I lost control doesn’t necessarily mean they will… I sure hope the ones that never drank never will though, nothing but trouble at the bottom of that bottle.


I think it’s perfectly appropriate for you to be completely frank and open with them. You know your kids best and they’re old enough now that they will start having questions about that kind of stuff - as you noted, you aren’t so worried about your daughter getting into it soon.

I don’t think that it will change the way they see you - especially since you’ve been sober this long - they will see you as someone who has made smart decisions knowing that alcohol was a problem for you in the past.

As far as giving them healthy coping skills - it’s never a bad idea to teach them something. Even if they roll their eyes at it now they will have something to fall back on and they’ll remember that you taught them this from a place of love and wanting a better life for them.

As an example, my mum always worked exceptionally hard to teach me proper chores and keeping things clean and whatnot. I often hated it but mostly did what I was told. Wasn’t until I moved out and had roommates I learned that this was second nature to me and my colleagues had NO IDEA HOW TO CLEAN ANYTHING. Very informative time for them and it solidified my own opinion of how important it is. I imagine that when they do come across friends and acquaintances with this problem, they will be the first to recognize it for what it is and encourage some of the same practices for their friends.

It will also help to prevent other bad habits that generally form during teen years such as eating disorders, pornography, social media addiction, etc… I’m sure that you already see all the benefits

My parents did a thing for a few months (though it didn’t stick) where we would sit down for life lessons every Sunday evening. We would talk about writing checks and resumes, or what kind of jobs we could do once we were old enough to work, what kind of classes we could take at university, etc. It was pretty good but we ended up letting it fizzle. I think back on those evenings often and they helped shape the decisions I made leaving home - even though I was loath at the time to spend another moment of the weekend doing “LEARNING” with my parents.

In any case, I hope something I’ve said has been useful; I’ve been told I can run my mouth for hours. Best of luck with your decision and teaching!

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Thanks for all the replies. A lot of helpful insight here that I can take with me.