Should I have a relationship with my dad even if it makes me desperately unhappy?





I am 17 and my dad is an alcoholic. Partly because of my dad’s addiction my mum has separated from my dad. He refuses to believe he has a serious problem, he knows he drink too much but doesn’t realise the extent of the problem and the effect it has on me and my sister. We have told him it would make us so much happier if he gave up and told him how depressed and scared it makes us. He does not care about that and doesn’t even want to do it for himself. As a result, I have told him I will not contact him until he gets help to give up alcohol (as part of my parents divorce he lives apart from us on his own). He has accepted that we will not contact him and put his drinking above his daughters. I did this because I thought it would shock him into realising the severity of the issue. It has not worked.

It has been over a month now since I last saw him, he has tried to call and text me but I have told him I won’t talk to him until he accepts and gets help for his addiction. Again, he has accepted this, hasn’t changed his drinking habits and is prepared to give up his daughters if it means he can still drink.

I was looking for some advice if I should give in and have a relationship with my Dad because I love him and I want him to be in my life? It makes me sad not having him here. But I feel that I need to stay firm, not contact him and hope he sees sense because I cannot continue living around his addiction? All I want is for him to get better.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Thank you! Xx

  • listener


    I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's drinking and all that your family are going through at the moment. It's so clear that all you want is for your dad to get better.

    It must be so hard for you to not have contact with your dad and I appreciate how this must feel like he is choosing alcohol over you. I can't say whether you should see your dad or not - each situation is different and really you have to do what you feel is best in your heart. I don't think there are right or wrong answers here, although it would be much easier if there were.

    Do you have support, people who you talk to? It's so important to externalise some of these feelings, so it's amazing that you're reaching out on these message boards. I really hope it helps and know that Nacoa is there for you via their helpline too (0800 358 3456 /

    Do you have any coping mechanisms at the moment? Please know that you are not alone, and that you can reach out on here whenever you need to talk.

    Take good care,

    • abzi2021

      Sorry to hear about your situation.
      If you can manage to live away from him monetary wise and can make a nice home for yourself then i suggest you do that. Regarding your father, tell him you love him and want him in your life - but see him in the daytime or when he is sober.
      If you choose to go back to his house, make a separate life for yourself and deal with him when he is sober. You need to make the decision for the best for you. Dont cut him out and yet dont get caught up in the alcoholic everyday drama. Stay strong and keep talking to someone. Nacoa helpline is very good.

      • hazel908

        Thank you for your advice.

        I hear what you are saying, unfortunately the alcoholism has taken over who he is as a person therefore affecting who he is when he is sober and I do not like that person. I am looking for a compromise.

        Thank you again for responding to my post!

        • abzi2021

          So sorry to hear this. You should make a life for yourself and surround yourself with happy people. Get a job / study further and focus on yourself. But tell your dad when he is ready to sort himself out you will be there for him.

  • uniquemind

    Hi ,

    I am sorry you're going through this at the moment. It is very difficult and heart breaking situation to be in. Your story is too close to home and I have personal experience of exactly what you are going through. It is a very hard situation because you want your dad to seek help although you also do not want to be hurt by his substance misuse issues and also having to experience them in person.

    I feel every case is individual, Alcoholism is a mental illness but no one is to blame for a persons alcoholism and the only person who can seek help and stop is the person themselves and when they are ready to do so. As long as you are truly making the choice that you want to take that is all that matters and remember to look after yourself.

    Hope this helps.

    • hazel908

      Hi there,

      Thank you so much for your response, I really appreciate it. Its hard at times to remember it is a mental illness because of his behaviour but I need to remind myself of this. I hope your situation panned out in a positive way for you!

      Many Thanks

  • yuasan

    Hi there,

    I am so sorry you're going through this. Me and my sister were also faced with a similar scenario, I was 28 and she was 20 when we felt we had to cut contact with our dad because of his alcoholism, his marriage to our mum had also fallen apart. It was heart-breaking, and one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. For me, I felt like it was the only thing I could do to protect myself. At the time I felt so angry and hurt that it felt like he chose alcohol over me, and 3 years later I still feel that way - but I also recognise I felt like it was what I needed to do.

    If I could talk to 17 year old me - and as this is your age, I just want you to know that it's not your fault. It's not fair for children to have to make these kinds of decisions, and it makes you face things many people either don't face until they're older or ever. I've found that talking to others who maybe feel like they know some of what you're experiencing can be a comfort through the dark times.

    In the same way that he has to be the one to make the decision to get help, you can be the one to help decide what is best for you. It's so hard when all you want is for the drinking to stop and just have your parent back, please try to remember that it's not your fault, and this this period of no communication, however long it lasts for, came from a place of you caring about your dad whilst also trying to care about your own wellbeing.

    Thinking of you x

    • hazel908

      Thank you so much for replying, it means a lot to me.

      Your advice is very kind and helpful to put things into perspective. I agree and relate to everything you say. I think you are right that for now I need to control what I can control and that is doing the best thing for me.

      Lots of respect to you for making that decision for yourself!

  • tayswiftfan24

    Reading your post, I truly do get your situation (I'm literally going through basically the same thing). It's so hard to do what's best yourself when it comes between yourself and someone you love, and of course I cannot tell you what to do. My Dad too has chosen alcohol over me, and it hurts a lot. Please know that you are not to blame for his problems, and that ultimately it is up him to change himself.

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