Al-Anon made us better parents

“Please press One if you will accept a collect call from the … county prison.”

My wife and I had been at friends’ that evening. We got home at about midnight and found the message on our answering machine. We listened to it three times without saying a word. The message summarized the relationship we had with our son over the past two years. 

We hugged each other, cried, and decided we wouldn’t do anything right away. Our reasoning: he was in a safe place getting the help he needed. That rationalization helped us sleep, somewhat.

We felt that the parent-child relationship we enjoyed while he was growing up was gone. The wonderful person we loved had changed into someone we didn’t really know and didn’t like. Sadly, as do so many other parents, we discovered that we had an alcoholic child. We didn’t know what that meant until it happened to us. 

I called the prison on Monday and talked to our son’s counselor. The counselor asked if we wanted to post bail. Our answer was no. We shared with the counselor that this experience is hopefully the low point in his life and that he can start rebuilding.  

Al-Anon had given us the tools we needed to initiate the foregoing conversation. Two years had passed since we had learned of our son’s addiction. Prior to our involvement in Al-Anon, we would have intervened, posted bail, and retained an attorney. Parents want their children to do better in life than they did. My wife and I were no different and, before Al-Anon, we would have feared that this arrest would prevent that from happening. Through Al-Anon, we learned that our agenda for him was enabling his addiction to continue. 

Al-Anon made us better parents. An addicted son taught us that we had to redefine our role as parents and Al-Anon provided the support. He wasn’t the little boy that we had brought home from the hospital, even though we wished he were. Then we could protect him. Indeed, he had grown into a loving and intelligent young man who had this terrible disease of addiction. We had to learn how to let go with love and trust his life and recovery to his Higher Power. Al-Anon provided the tools. Al-Anon enabled us to put our lives back together. 


By William C., South Carolina
The Forum, May 2015