Skip to navigation

Turning lives around: Ben’s story

Sometimes when I used to walk to school, my mum would be sitting on the park bench drinking and I would look at her and look away, like I didn't know her because it used to embarrass me.

This film clip is courtesy of Newsround

How does your parents’ drinking make you feel?

Words describing children's feelings towards alcoholic parents

Like Ben, many children feel responsible for their parents' drinking. With support and care, they realise that there is no need for them to feel guilty or ashamed. The following table outlines some of the messages we try to convey to the children of alcoholic parents in response to their feelings.

How you might feel

But the facts are...

"It's my fault that my parents drink"It is never a child’s fault
"I can stop my parent’s drinking"The only person who can stop a drinking problem, is the person who drinks
"I’m the only one going through this"There are many other children whose parents have alcohol problems
"Good families don’t have alcohol problems"Alcohol can become a problem for any family
"A person with an alcohol problem drinks every day"Only a minority of people with alcohol problems drink every day

What you can do

Child's drawing of a bottle with a big cross over it
  • Talk to someone you can trust – a relative, teacher or a friend
  • If you are in an emergency, please call 999 immediately
  • If you would like to go along to a Barnardo’s service, you can see an interactive map of services near you. Type in your postcode, and click on the red drops that appear near where you live.

Alcohol and substance misuse projects

Barnardo’s works closely with children, young people and their parents to help them through their situation. Our services provide:

  • direct work with children
  • therapeutic family work
  • parenting support
  • group work
  • work with couples; and
  • addiction recovery support for adults.

Here are some examples of Barnardo’s services that specifically help children and young people, whose parents abuse alcohol:

Carmarthenshire Young Carers (for children in Carmarthenshire, Wales)
Contact: 01554 775 232

Time For Me (for children in the West Midlands)
Contact: 01384 411722

Merthyr Young Carers Service (for children in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales)
Contact: 01685 382 422

Flintshire Services, Barnardo's Cymru (for children in Flintshire, Wales)
Contact: 01244 551246

Pharos (for children in Northern Ireland)
Contact: 028 9066 3470

Action with Young Carers project (for children in Liverpool)
Contact: 0151 708 7323