Saturday, April 18, 2009

Substance Abuse A Family Disease - transgenerational problems

Husband: She says I drink too much some time but I grew up in a house where my dad drank all the time and my mother did too until she quit and then they faught about my dad's drinking all the time, and I don't drink anywhere as much as my dad.

Wife: Yeah, Bill still drinks and then he's mean to Helen and I want to go home but by that time John has had too many and he doesn't want to go so we fight. I told him I'm not going over to his parent's house any more and that he needs to talk to them.

Husband: Well, I tell her that it's between her and them, I don't want to be in the middle of it.

Wife: I wish he would be a man. It's his job, not mine. They hate me and say that everything is my fault.

Husband: Yeah, they think she thinks she's too good for us.

Wife: I just don't like the drinking and the meaness, and I don't like the kids seeing it either.

Husband: So, don't go. Just me and the kids will go.

Wife: (To the counselor)See what I mean. I don't know what to do!

Counselor: Please fill in the blank by writing your response under comments.
This is article #4 in a series on Substance Abuse A Family Disease.


David G. Markham said...

There is no right or wrong response. A good counselor will be watching the nonverbal communication which is not available in the transcript.

It seems like the wife wants a change and the husband while he acknowledges there is a problem, he minimizes the extent of the problem in his own life, and is not willing or ready to take a stand with his parents.

The further concern is that the children are being exposed to the grandparents and to father's alcoholism which mom also objects to and dad dismisses.

There are many things that could be said by the counselor and it is unclear what kind of relationship the counselor has with the clients, but I would be inclined to assess the situation further by asking the husband "What do you think your kids make out of your dad being mean to your mom when he is intoxicated?" I am wondering if the husband would recognize the problem with his kids witnessing alcoholic behavior and whether he would be inclined to protect them? What do you think Dad will say?

John Bennett said...

It is important to have an understanding of how the individual is functioning in relationship to his/her identiy within the the family of origin and the family of procreation. In couples work this is especially important to understand what each person bring to the relationship. In chemically dependant households the norms are often skewed and/or exaggerated which leads to destorted perceptions about what is normal or acceptable.