Alcoholic Family Influence

Alcoholic Family Influence

Duncan Macleod

Don’t feel, don’t talk, don’t trust�

My experience of family as a teenager was not great.

My father’s ongoing alcoholism over-shadowed everything we had and did as a family.

Life in a “dysfunctional” family was not just about violence and verbal abuse. It was tough going growing up in an environment in which peace depended on the mood of the man who walked in the door at night.

Instead of learning about intimate communication, I learnt too well the tools of defensiveness. I can tell you that I was relieved to join my seven brothers and sisters in the world outside the family home at the age of 17.

So how did that experience affect my ministry with young people?

First of all, I believe passionately that the church must provide opportunity for healthy relationships between adults and young people. I can still remember the conversations I had as a teenager with leaders on tramps, on work-days, and on long car trips.

It was great as a teenager to be able to join other family, even if on a temporary basis. That experience reminds me that the relationships I form with young people need to offer strength and compassion.

Breaking the old rules

I’ve had to deal with a few negative spin-offs from my own family experience. The unspoken rules of families affected by alcoholism for instance. “Don’t feel. Don’t talk. Don’t trust”. Break the rules and you could be in for a bruising time. Sadly enough, I see the same rules being played out in the church too often.

New attitudes

A long-term challenge for me is to develop attitudes which allow me to acknowledge the way I feel about things, speak with honesty and care, and trust others to take responsibility. That challenge sits with me as I help to develop a sense of community in my local youth group each week.

Duncan Macleod