CHILDLINE ADVICE: Parental drinking can have an impact on care of children

Throughout the last year, many families have been under pressure like never before.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 12:00 am
'At Childline, we hear a lot from children who are worried about their parents’ and carers’ relationship with alcohol and drugs'

It is unsurprising that a lot of parents and carers have started to drink a little more, and some will have started to struggle with their use of alcohol or substances.

While most parents who drink alcohol do this in moderation and are not a risk to their children,

parental substance misuse, where a parent or carer abuses alcohol or drugs, can have a significant impact on children.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And with lockdown still in place, children are much more immersed in the problems they are facing at home.

Living in a household where a parent or carer misuses substances does not necessarily mean a child will experience abuse, but it can make it more difficult for parents to provide safe and consistent care and this can lead to abuse or neglect. It can also have a serious impact on children’s emotional well-being.

There are signs that may indicate families are struggling. For instance, parents may be visibly intoxicated, or their behaviour may have changed, becoming more irrational or unpredictable. Children may show behavioural, emotional or mental health problems. They may also have taken on caring responsibilities for parents or siblings, or may not seem to be changing clothes or washing often.

There also may be aggressive or repeated shouting at home.

At Childline, we hear a lot from children who are worried about their parents’ and carers’ relationship with alcohol and drugs and the impact this has on their family lives. One young person told us: “Since the schools are shut we’re all at home, but my dad is an alcoholic and because now he’s not working all he’s been doing is drinking.

“I get so angry and overwhelmed when he gets drunk and I’m really not sure how to cope. Every time I talk to him about it he stays silent and then gets angry at me.”

Figures from the NSPCC Helpline show, since the beginning of April last year, there has been an increase in calls where people are concerned for the welfare of a child due to alcohol and drug misuse. In the North East and Cumbria, the number of referrals to local agencies we’ve made following calls to our helpline about this issue has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic. We know things are exceptionally hard for people, and the NSPCC and Childline are here to help. If you have any concerns about a child, for any reason at all, you can get in touch with the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or [email protected]

And Childline is here to help any child or young person, 365 days a year, on 0800 11 11 or at