I’m surrounded by drunk grandmas, and I don’t know what to do.

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Dear care and feeding,

In my family and in the families of many of my friends, there is a drunken grandmother problem. Grandmas are meek or stoic or whatever their normal personality is, and then they start drinking – like everyone else – but drink a lot more. Then the lid comes off and they interact with the grandkids in a mean way. The grandchildren consider Grandma mean and move away even when she is sober. Any attempt to get them to be nicer to the children is met with the blame of “lax parenting”, but no mention of alcohol is made because Grandma won’t hear of it.
I don’t have children, and I find it increasingly distressing to hear friends and family complain about their inability to set boundaries. Everyone seems resigned to the idea that exposing kids to a very drunk and sometimes mean grandparent at every holiday and birthday is somehow okay, as long as they wring their hands about it later.

Some even blame their children for being loud or attracting Drunk Grandma’s wrath. I know that dealing with alcohol abuse is difficult and even more difficult when you love someone who doesn’t see a problem in their behavior. For busy young families, getting to Al-Anon meetings is also an added challenge. Are there other methods that could help these families better protect children from their drunk grandmothers?

— Tired of drunk grandmothers

Dear tired,

I think you should focus your attention on the “drunk grandma” problem in your own family, although you can certainly empathize with your friends about how they deal with the same problem. If you suspect your grandmother is an alcoholic, you should bring your family together to discuss how to deal with this. Let them know that you are bothered by the way she treats her grandchildren and that you think steps should be taken to fix it. However, from what you’ve shared, it seems like they’ve accepted Grandma as she is and may not be willing to change anything. If you want to help the children in your family have a better experience during these occasions, you can work to serve as a buffer between them and Grandma. When you see her interacting with the kids, take them out to play. Directly confront your grandmother about how she treats them every time you see her being mean to them. If you decide to have your own children, you have the right to avoid these gatherings to spare them from his madness.


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Gn Health

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