CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 11 . . . . November 11, 2011
Presented by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and designed to encourage youngsters to talk to a trusted adult about their feelings when dealing with a family member who drinks too much, Wishes and Worries: Coping with a Parent Who Drinks Too Much Alcohol offers information and advice by means of a story. On Maggie’s birthday, her dad brings home the birthday cake for the party, but, under the influence of alcohol, he is a little unsteady and the cake slips through his hands and onto the floor. When the parents start to yell at each other, the party guests feel uncomfortable and leave early. The next day at school, Maggie’s classmates are whispering about her dad’s behaviour. Maggie’s feelings are hurt, and she lashes out at one of her friends. Maggie decides to confide in her teacher who listens without judgment and suggests that she talk to the school counselor, Miss Yee. By Maggie’s expressing her concerns and talking about her feelings to both Miss Yee and to her mother, Maggie begins to feel better and to understand the effects of alcohol on the body, why some people drink to excess, and that her father’s behaviour is not her fault. Dad eventually realizes that he needs professional help with his alcohol problem, so he, too, sees a counselor and a medical doctor. Though he experiences a setback, by the end of the story he is much better, and, as a result, the family is much more at ease in his company.
Wishes and Worries has several strengths: firstly, it is written in kid-friendly language and presents the story in an age-appropriate way; secondly, it is honest in that the father’s problem isn’t magically solved overnight, and he still has to work hard to get back on track when he has setbacks; thirdly, it reassures children their feelings are normal and nothing to be ashamed of; and finally, it is told in the first person, from Maggie’s point of view, so that youngsters have a better idea of the various emotions that she is experiencing. The last three pages of the book provide information for adults who are helping children to cope with someone in their family who drinks. Parents and other trusted family members who may be involved in the child’s care, as well as teachers and guidance counselors, will find this information useful.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.