There’s a certain amount of our lives we hide from our kids. Or we think we do anyway.
And then your toddler points to the beer cooler and proudly announces “beer juice!” Strollerderby regular Mike Adamick was moonlighting over at the New York Times this week with his essay on the moment he realized his alcoholism wasn’t just his problem; it was his daughter’s too.
Reading it, it’s hard not to see yourself.
Not in the alcohol consumption, per se. But as Mike says “it made me wonder if we can ever truly erase our scarlet letters, if we can ever truly run away from our personal demons and whether our flaws would always be visible to our children, somehow.”
We are our kids’ superheroes, but by our very nature as human beings, we are a flawed lot. And we live in fear of the day our kids figure it out. Because there are two ways the whole thing can go down:
1. The preferred mode: they see it, refuse to accept it, and learn from our mistakes.
2. The more likely mode: they see it, like it, and try it. That in and of itself can have two alternate roads (I think you see where we’re going here, don’t you).
As much as genetics plays a role in addictions – including alcoholism – there’s a definite environmental contribution. It’s why smokers’ kids are more likely to smoke. Drinkers’ kids more likely to drink.
And in my case, why my insistence that I could still parent and throw up my dinner was shown for what it really was by my then two-and-a-half-year-old, a miserable attempt to pretend what I did was my business and mine alone.
As parents, we are not going to be perfect. It’s our fondest wish – and our first mistake. But if your kids can learn from our mistakes, why can’t we?
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