I Don’t Understand One Of My Kids And I Feel So Guilty

Dear Sober Dad,

I have three children, 14 down to 7. I do fine with my 14-year-old and my 7-year-old, but my 12-year-old son gives me fits. I feel like I don’t understand him at all. It’s so frustrating. What do I do?

– Natalie T., Denver, Colorado


Dear Natalie,

Sober Dad feels your pain.

He went through the exact same thing.
With my four children, I always used to say that there was one I didn’t “get.” I didn’t understand why he thought the way he thought or acted the way he acted. We butted heads and it was not pretty. Continue reading “I Don’t Understand One Of My Kids And I Feel So Guilty”

My Marriage Stinks But We Have Kids. Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Dear Sober Dad,

We have children in middle school and our marriage is not in very good shape. We don’t fight a ton, but there is not a lot of intimacy. I’m afraid that it is affecting the kids. It’s certainly affecting me.

I’m not sure that my wife has either the interest or the capacity for emotional intimacy. My wife is a stay-at-home mom by choice. I think she’s burned out on me, on parenting, maybe on life in general. I’m sure we’re not the only ones, but it’s deeply frustrating.

I’ve thought a lot about leaving, but I realize I cannot be as good a parent outside the home as if I stay.
So I stay, primarily because of the kids. Thoughts?

– Mike S., Astoria, New York


Dear Mike,

Thoughts? Many.

Sober Dad is not a therapist, but he is a husband and father who has been through many struggles in his own marriage along the lines that you are describing in yours.

I once remember hearing a study described on the radio to the effect that women who work outside the home were happier and more fulfilled than those who stayed home with the children. Continue reading “My Marriage Stinks But We Have Kids. Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”

How Do I Tell My Young Children About My Alcoholism?

Dear Sober Dad,

My kids are 10 and eight. I have six months sober. How do I explain to them about my alcoholism? The good news is that I no longer ruin family vacations.

– Matt B., Mitchell, South Dakota


Dear Matt,

First, Sober Dad congratulates you on your sobriety. We say nothing is a big deal, but six months is a very big deal.

One of Sober Dad’s favorite expressions is “What you’re doing speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear a word you’re saying.” Continue reading “How Do I Tell My Young Children About My Alcoholism?”

How Do I Discipline My Kids Without Feeling Like A Hypocrite?

Dear Sober Dad,

Our eight-year-old smashed a vase in the living room with a baseball bat. He won’t admit it, but we are certain he did it on purpose, because he was mad at us, because we wouldn’t let him stay up as late as his brother.

I’m just starting down the road to recovery. After hiding my own addiction to painkillers for years, I’m just beginning to get a sense of cause and effect, of consequences. He gets an allowance, but it would take him forever to pay for the vase. How do we teach him that something like that isn’t okay? How do I teach and reinforce those ideas to my son when I’m figuring it out myself?

– Erica K., Louisville, Kentucky


Dear Erica,

Sober Dad wants to know why you have such an expensive vase in your living room if you have an eight-year-old, as well as a slightly older brother. What exactly are you thinking? It was just a matter of time, don’t you realize?

Seriously, it’s tough. You want to have nice art pieces in your home, but this may not be the right stage of life for displaying them. Accidents will happen, and so will fits of temper. So if you have another vase, you may want to stow it in the attic for a few years or lend it to your local art museum for display until your sons reach the age of maturity. Continue reading “How Do I Discipline My Kids Without Feeling Like A Hypocrite?”