A new study just proved what is wrong with parents today: We are so stressed out that we’re turning to alcohol to relax. So much so that one out of every 10 children in the U.S. now lives with an alcoholic parent. That’s just troubling for so many reasons. And it makes me never want to drink a glass of wine with dinner again.
Researchers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) analyzed national survey data from 2005 through 2010 and found roughly 7.5 million children–more than 10% of our country’s population–live with a parent abusing alcohol. Most of those kids lived in two-parent households where one or both of the adults had a drinking problem. But for the remainder who lived with only one parent, it was the mother who was generally the alcoholic.
Not only is this a sad way to grow up, but children living with alcoholics are at greater risk of suffering from a number of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to be abused or neglected by their parents and face numerous learning problems. On top of that, children of alcoholic parents are four times more likely to develop alcohol problems of their own, according to the researchers.
The researchers don’t cite exactly why these parents turned to alcohol in the first place and why they continue to every day, but I can only speculate that it has a lot to do with stress. As any parent knows, raising kids is a very stressful, demanding and tiring job. Add to that all of the other pressures that we deal with on a day-to-day basis including work, aging parents, finances, marriage and the PTA who won’t leave you alone, and is it any wonder that some parents turn to alcohol to cope?
I can attest to the stress of being a parent with all of the above responsibilities–not to mention trying to eek out time for myself each day for exercise, yoga and an occasional bubble bath. I can also attest to how good a glass of wine feels at the end of the day with dinner. There is something about that first sip especially that is like a nice little dose of ahhh. And even though I rarely finish an entire glass (I just enjoy a few sips), it can be easy to see how something like one glass could turn into “just one more” with another one after that.
You see stories out there about play groups where moms are drinking while their kids play (not that I’m saying these moms are alcoholics, but is wine really necessary during the day?). There are blogs out there about moms who secretly confess that they are alcoholics and hide it from their families from the minute they wake up until the minute they go to sleep each day. There have even been a number of reports about moms who have driven their kids while intoxicated. All of which is very sobering to hear.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to put down the wine and spend more time on my yoga mat and in the bath tub to relieve that stress.