How Do I Talk to My Daughters about Their Father's Addictions?

Article excerpt

Question: My ex moved out six years ago. We have two daughters he saw every other weekend. They are now 18 and 20. My ex remains a "functional alcoholic" but his more debilitating addiction is pornography. Since my daughters only saw their dad every other weekend, they were unaware of his addictions. When my older daughter left for college we discussed the alcoholism. As the younger daughter leaves this fall, it's time both know about their addiction history. Alcohol I can explain. How do I discuss porn's dangers and addictiveness while respecting their love for their dad?

Answer: First, congratulations on understanding how important it is to discuss addiction with your kids. We certainly understand why you chose their going off to college to have this discussion. However, many kids choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol before college, so we suggest that families, especially families who face addiction, have that discussion far earlier. Teens are notorious for not taking an addictive family history seriously -- few believe it will happen to them -- so keep talking and listening and do your best to educate, not preach. If not approached properly, the "stay away from drugs" lecture can alienate rather than help.

Now on to your specific question: How to discuss porn's dangers and addictiveness while respecting their love for their dad? There are a couple red flags here. The first is that the kids probably did know about dad's drinking, but they didn't tell you. …