Estranged Families and Alcoholism: My Kids Won’t Know Their Grandfather


My father and I are estranged.

My dad is an alcoholic who for the better part of my life has made little to no effort to play a contributing role in the lives of my sister and me. There. I said it. Even during his “dry spell,” no amends were made. I accepted the fact that he won’t be a part of my life a long time ago.

My sister tended to be more forgiving than me, but she has come to accept a similar conclusion in the last few years because we have kids now and as parents, it is simply unimaginable to us that someone would not want to take part in the life of a human that they helped create.

We thought that once we had children something would change or click or make sense to him and that he would make an effort toward change. We even had conversations about how we would react if he wanted to have a more active role in our lives and the lives of our kids. As it turns out these scenarios were all purely hypothetical. He did not change with or without alcohol, or without or with grandchildren.

I am an adult, I have accepted the course my life and relationship with my father has taken; it is what it is. It took me building a thick layer of skin and marrying a man who is nothing like him to realize that the relationship was not normal. Hell, most of my friends growing up had at least one alcoholic parent so it seemed par for the course. But I am NOT setting my kids up for heartbreak. That burden is mine to bear. My kids are the light in my life, they are the reason, they are an absolute blessing. Someone who couldn’t bother to be sober enough to fully experience some of my greatest moments doesn’t get to take in the bounty of the life I have created. I’ve come to understand that just because he “made” me, he doesn’t get credit for my accomplishments or for the light my spirited children bring into this world. Their glow is MINE to bask in.

I’ve established boundaries, especially around holidays that make interaction difficult. I will not arrange to see him or feel guilty that he doesn’t see my kids for the holidays. I would be lying if I said becoming estranged was a hard decision for me. I did want other people to see what I saw and and stop supporting him and making excuses for him. So, I have kept my distance and he has finally hit what I can only hope is his “rock bottom.” I don’t hope for it so that he can get it together and come riding over on a white horse, but he is my father and I do want him to have a life, a real fulfilled life, for him. But, the reward for finally or eventually getting it together will not be me or my children.

My life is mine to share with the people that I chose to share it with, for people that I love and TRUST and that deserve to have a part in my life and the life of my children.

I am not going to apologize for being estranged from my father. Not anymore. I stand strong in my decision. Strong for my kids. He has never apologized to me, he forced this decision not me. So I won’t apologize for making this, the last decision he will truly make for me, the easiest one yet.

Editor’s Note: Decisions surrounding family dynamics are incredibly personal and we thank this anonymous writer for sharing with us. If you find yourself in a similar situation, we recommend checking out Al-Anon‘s resources for families of alcoholics. 


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