Ex-Wife's Alcoholic Friend
My ex has allowed a childhood friend who is an active alcoholic to move in to her house with my 15 yr old daughter. the story is that she has sold her house and needs a "temporary" place to live while looking for a new one.
My ex has good intentions but I know there is no time frame on her stay or "rules" to living in the house. My past experience in attending Al Anon meeting has made me aware of the potential issues with this arrangement.
There has already been one 911 call when it was thought that the alcoholic may have taken too many sleeping pills. My girl experience the whole scene with the ambulance and police attending the call.
Fortunately she recovered and was fine.
Yesterday I went to the house to get a tool from the garage, the alcoholic meet me at the door completely intoxicated. I asked her if she was attending any meetings or talking with a counselor to which she said 'no".
I am deeply concerned for the alcoholic but even more so for my daughter.
I am looking for a set of recommended "rules" for the alcoholic to adhere too for my ex that addresses the time she can stay at the house as well as working, attending meetings , etc. But more importantly information as to 'why" for my ex to understand.
Thanks in advance,
Rob Danzman Says...
This is a tough situation since it sounds like a) there are many safety concerns yet you have little control since it's your ex's home b) you actually have some respect for your ex's motives and c) there's a real alcoholic involved.
Here's the super simple but hard reality - The focus should not be on the alcoholic friend. Your resources (time, money and energy) should be spent developing and nurturing a co-parenting approach with your ex and and teaching/role modeling to your daughter healthy boundaries/self-advocacy.
Creating a Parent Agreement (basically, instruction manual for co-parenting) is essential when separated/divorced couples have children. It should include very specific rules, expectations, rewards, consequences for your daughter as well as expectations for who will be allowed in each of your homes and, ultimately, in your daughter's life (to the extent that's reasonable). Baked into this Parent Agreement should address keeping your daughter safe - not only physically safe but psychologically safe. For example - you said that your daughter witnessed the whole near-suicide drama brought about by the alcoholic roommate and that your daughter was fine. I bet she's not but may not be explicitly communicating it.
Now, about the whole healthy boundaries/self-advocacy stuff with your daughter. These are essential skills we want all children to have. If the focus is on the alcoholic friend, you have a wack-o-mole problem - Will you really be able to neutralize every unhealthy person that crosses your daughter's path? Not likely. Teach her how to communicate her needs and wants while also clearly and appropriately expressing where her boundaries are (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc). This is a fantastic opportunity to encourage compassion for others (ie. mom's sick friend) without compromising her life.
While I'm confident you can make a big dent in this mess, I highly encourage you, your daughter and ex to meet with a family therapist to learn and practice communication skills, parenting agreement and healthy boundaries. I don't think you all need to 'process' much but I do think these skills mentioned above could prove invaluable.
Page last updated Jun 26, 2014