Ask Sam letter


To Sam

My mum drinks all the time

I can't remember the last time my mum was acting kind twards me. When she picks me up from school her eyes look all shady and she slurs her words, and often she buys 1 bottle of wine sometimes 2. She always says " Don't tell your father." My dad comes home from work really late and i can't call him because my mum calls her mother who is ill, and her father insults her on the phone and she goes up to bed until my dad gets home.She always calls me up to her bedroom to get her a pot to be sick into, and the sick smells like wine. She started drinking really badly from when i was about 7 and she gets into these slumps where she won't do the laundry or dishes. My dad always has to end up doing them and he gets really stressed and i'm afraid he's going to have a heart attack.

Can you tell me how to deal with her?

Thanks, from O*

Ask Sam


Hi O*,

I’m so glad that you’ve taken time to write this letter. I can hear that this is a really stressful time for you. It can be very hard to watch someone you’re close to drinking to the point where it make them ill and changes their behaviour. It’s also not okay for anyone to ask you to keep big secrets from your dad. You’re holding some really difficult information all to yourself right now which might be making it all feel more difficult to cope with.

It sounds like it’s also very tough to feel like your mum hasn’t been acting kind towards you for a long time. It seems like you might feel like there’s a lot of responsibility on you right now when you are holding this from your dad and bringing her a pot to be sick in. That’s a very difficult thing to have to deal with.

You’ve also told me that about your dad getting stressed and how afraid you are in case he has a heart attack. It sounds like you really care about him and how he feels. It’s important to remember that your feelings are really important too. Its your dad and your mum’s responsibility to be looking after you and that might not be happening if your mum is drinking when your dad is not home.

It might be an idea for you to consider what you really might like to say to your dad. You don’t mention how well you get along with him, but I can see that you really care about him. You could write him a letter if it's hard to say things out loud. You have a right to feel safe and happy at home. Sometimes it can be hard for a parent to know what things really feel like for a young person if they’re not able to tell them. Sometimes parents or carers will assume that everything is okay just because you are not saying otherwise - sometimes they miss the signs that you think should be obvious!

You’ve asked me how you can deal with her. What’s happening is not your fault and it’s not your responsibility to stop your mum drinking. What’s really important is that you look after yourself through this stressful time.

You may also want to consider whether there’s an adult that you trust who you would like to support you. This could be a relative, a teacher at school or anyone you feel safe talking to.

You are welcome to come and talk to a ChildLine counsellor about your feelings and what options you might have. ChildLine is always a safe space to talk. You can have a 1-2-1 chat with a counsellor (a bit like instant messenger) or you can call us for free (even from a mobile) on 0800 1111. You can also take a look at our parents and alcohol page for more information and advice.

Nacoa is also an organisation which supports children and young people living with a family member who has a drink problem. Their number is 0800 358 3456 or you can email them [email protected]

I hope some of this helps.

Take care


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter