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Dealing with an Alcoholic Co-parent: What You Need to Know

Dealing with an alcoholic co-parent requires patience, understanding, and a lot of support. Remember, your primary responsibility is towards your child. Prioritize their safety and well-being, and don't hesitate to seek help when needed.

Parenting is a challenging job on its own. Toss in the complexities of dealing with an alcoholic co-parent, and you’ve got a recipe for some major stress. But you’re not alone in this journey. If you’re navigating the world of co-parenting with someone who struggles with alcoholism, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand, deal, and protect your kids.

What is an alcoholic?

An alcoholic is an individual who suffers from alcoholism – a disease that causes a strong craving for alcohol, loss of control over drinking, physical dependence on alcohol, and increased tolerance. The effects aren’t just physical. Alcoholism can have deep-rooted psychological and social consequences, affecting the individual’s relationships, work, and overall life.

How do you deal with an intoxicated parent?

Dealing with an intoxicated parent can be tough, especially when children are involved. It’s essential to prioritize safety and avoid confrontations. If the parent becomes aggressive, it’s best to distance yourself and the child. Encourage open communication when the parent is sober and consider seeking professional advice and community support.

Is it harmful for kids to see their parents drunk?

Yes. Witnessing a parent under the influence can be traumatic for children. It can lead to confusion, fear, and long-term emotional and psychological distress. Kids need stability, and a drunk parent can disrupt that sense of security they need.

Is it illegal to be drunk around your child?

The legality varies by jurisdiction. While it might not be illegal to be drunk around your child, actions stemming from intoxication, like neglect or endangerment, can have legal consequences. For legal advice tailored to your specific situation, consider a lawyer consultation.

Which of the following is considered excessive drinking?

Excessive drinking typically includes binge drinking (5 or more drinks for men, 4 or more for women in about 2 hours), heavy drinking (15 or more drinks per week for men, 8 or more for women), and any alcohol consumption by pregnant women or those below the legal drinking age.

Can you drink while watching a baby?

While an occasional glass of wine or beer might be okay, it’s crucial to ensure you’re still capable of providing proper care. Excessive drinking while responsible for a baby can be dangerous due to impaired judgment and reduced responsiveness.

How often do most parents drink?

According to various studies, many parents consume alcohol moderately and responsibly. However, the frequency and quantity can vary based on cultural, social, and personal factors. It’s essential to remember that it’s not about the frequency but the impact of alcohol on one’s parenting abilities.

Is it dangerous for a child to be around a drunk parent?

Absolutely. Drunk parents might exhibit unpredictable behavior, posing physical and emotional risks to the child. They might neglect the child’s needs or, in worst cases, become abusive. Ensuring a child’s safety is paramount.

Are there any programs to help me cope with the other parent’s drinking?

Yes, numerous programs can offer support. You can explore divorce life coaching or even delve into fitness and nutrition as coping mechanisms. Additionally, consider joining a community where you can share experiences and get advice, like the DivorcePlus community. More specialized parenting services can also guide you in managing such situations.

10 Tips to Diffuse a Situation When One Parent is Drunk:

  1. Stay Calm: Reacting emotionally can escalate the situation. Deep breaths and a calm demeanor can help.
  2. Prioritize Safety: If there’s a threat, move the child to a safe place.
  3. Avoid Arguments: Drunk individuals aren’t in a state for logical discussions. Avoiding confrontation is wise.
  4. Plan Ahead: If alcoholism is a recurring issue, have a plan. This could include staying with a relative or friend when necessary.
  5. Talk When Sober: Address concerns when the other parent is sober. This can lead to more constructive conversations.
  6. Seek Mediation: Engage a neutral third-party for discussions.
  7. Educate and Inform: Kids older than a certain age can benefit from understanding the situation, assuring them it’s not their fault.
  8. Professional Help: Consider therapy or divorce coaching for managing emotions and planning next steps.
  9. Legal Recourse: If safety becomes a concern, consult with a lawyer about protective measures.
  10. Self-Care: Remember, you can best help your child when you’re also in a good space. Consider activities like yoga, meditation, or fitness programs to manage stress.


Dealing with an alcoholic co-parent requires patience, understanding, and a lot of support. Remember, your primary responsibility is towards your child. Prioritize their safety and well-being, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed. And always remember, you’re not alone in this journey. With the right resources, you can navigate this challenging path and ensure a safe and nurturing environment for your child.

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