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Thursday 22 February 2018

The voice of a child living with parental alcoholism: 'I couldn't sleep last night with their fighting and roaring'

Alcohol Action Ireland is campaigning to have the rights and needs of children affected by alcohol addiction recognised and responded to.
Alcohol Action Ireland is campaigning to have the rights and needs of children affected by alcohol addiction recognised and responded to.

One in 11 children in Ireland are living in families adversely affected by alcohol.

*Jack is 10-years-old. He lives with his Mam and Dad, his 5 year old sister, Emily, and his 18-month-old brother, David. This is a typical day for Jack:

8.15 am

Mam has one of her headaches again and Dad is gone to work. I had to get Emily ready for school and change David’s nappy. No time for breakfast – there’s no milk anyway.

9.10 am

Late for school. And I had to wear my tracksuit bottoms – my school trousers are in the wash since last week.

10.15  am

In trouble over not having my homework done.

10.45 am

I’m starving

11.10 am

In trouble over not listening. I’m worried about David – is my Mam still in bed with her headache or is she minding him? I just remembered there isn’t even any milk for his bottle.

12.15 pm

No lunch – there wasn’t any bread or food for lunch at home. Conor gave me some of his. I wonder did Emily get anything to eat?

1.15 p.m.

So tired – Mam and Dad kept me awake last night with their fighting and roaring. I hope Mam doesn’t forget to collect Emily from school again

2.40 pm

Time to go home. There better be something to eat at home. Hope my Mam isn’t in one of her moods. I won’t show her the note I got from my teacher – she’ll just start shouting at me and I’d be afraid she’d hit me.

3.05 pm

Mam has cuts on her face from when she kept falling last night. And she’s real narky. Why does she drink wine when it makes her dizzy and fall over? I’m worried she’s going to hurt herself and have to go to hospital

3.45 pm

Just back from the shop – Mam gave me money to get bread, milk and beans so I can make beans on toast for me, Emily and David. David keeps asking for his milk.

4.10 pm

Mam says I can’t go to football training today – she’s too tired to drive

4.45 pm

I’m so angry. Just punched my friend James for saying my Mam is a “stupid drunk who can’t even talk properly”. It’s just that wine makes her so tired and her words come out slow.

6.15 pm

Mam is playing with David and I’m helping Emily with her homework. Mam is always in good mood when she has her first drinks. I made beans on toast for dinner.

8.30 pm

Dad is home. Him and Mam are fighting and cursing about her drinking. I wish he would stop drinking as well. David is crying.

9.30 pm

Emily is asleep on the couch. I have the telly turned up real loud so I don’t have to listen to them shouting in the kitchen. Mam is crying and keeps saying sorry. She says she’s going to kill herself  – she makes me scared when she’s like that.

10 pm

I woke Emily and we went to bed. I made toast for us to eat in bed – we were hungry again. I’m worried my teacher will give out tomorrow as I couldn’t do all my homework again. Will they every stop shouting downstairs?  Probably not, they’re in a fighting mood now.

*Jack is a fictional name, but this story is based on the day of a child with an alcoholic parent.

If you are a child affected by a parent’s drinking, please visit for information, advice and details of support services.

For more on the campaign by Alcohol Action Ireland on children affected by harmful parental drinking see:

You can also visit their Facebook page on:

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