It can be difficult being the family member of an addict. The disease can affect so many things, that you feel like you just want your parent, sibling, or whoever else back.
That’s just what Offbrand_Nihilism on Reddit wants. Their dad isn’t able to make much time for his family, so the original poster (OP) tried to ask him to.
However, OP’s dad got defensive and now they’re wondering if it was right to ask that of their father. To figure it out, they took their situation to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.
OP asked the Reddit board:
“AITA for asking my dad to lessen his time on AA meetings?”
This is what happened:
“My dad has been sober for nearly four years. I assume it will get easier the longer he’s been in the program and that he will eventually loosen up his schedule, but I’m not the only one in my family that is bothered by the amount of time he spends attending meetings.”
“He spends 5 days every week in at least one meeting, regardless of any holidays or family events. In fact, he seems to frequently prioritize AA above family by simply leaving gatherings early or leaving the room in the middle of a meal to attend a meeting.”
“All of his meetings are online unless he plans a day ahead to go out and attend one in-person. His sisters and parents are visibly bothered when he does this, and although I’ve tried to be polite and ignore it, recently, I brought it up to him.”
“When confronted, he became fairly defensive. His reasoning was that he is an adult and can manage his time however he wants, and also that AA basically saved his life.”
“I don’t disagree with the latter at all, but I also know that even his friends within the program will take time off for holidays or family events/vacations. I just want to be able to spend more time with him given that his schedule is already tight due to work.”
On the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit people explain their situation and their reaction and are judged based on what they do or in this case, are considering.
This is done by fellow users who include one of the following in their comment:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
A number of commenters felt that OP wasn’t considering how difficult it is to stay sober for their father. These meetings might be very necessary for OP’s dad to maintain his handle on the disease.
Because of this, OP was determined to be the one wrong.
“YTA I understand you wanting to spend time with your dad but his sobriety is very important.”
“You are fortunate to have a father who works hard to stay sober. Enjoy the sober time with him. It may not be as much time as you like, but it sure as hell beats the alternative” – msspider66
“YTA. I’m a daughter of an alcoholic who’s been sober for 31 years and he still goes to meetings. The truth is these meetings are saving his life.”
“Those times your dad leaves may be the times he’s wanting a drink the most -family dinners used to have alcohol for him. He used to drink at family functions.”
“Maybe he’ll loosen up but you can’t be mad if he doesn’t. Just be grateful” – ImpressiveCollar5811
“YTA. He is sober. He knows what he needs to maintain his sobriety. Drunks fall off the wagon at 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.”
“Let him handle his disease in whatever way he needs.” – SnowFlake1013
“YTA he’s doing what he needs to to stay sober. He feels the need to have the support of people who understand his struggle.”
“His family very obviously does not understand. This has nothing to do with you or anyone else. Or maybe it does and all of you just make him want to drink so he feels the need to get the heck away from y’all.”
“Either way YTA.” – NotSoBunny
Other commenters point out that it’s difficult for the family members of addicts to deal with the situation on their end. It’s not like OP wants their dad to be an alcoholic.
There’s a lot that OP’s dad is going through, but that also doesn’t mean that OP isn’t going through something too.
“I am going to go a bit against the grain and say NAH. I think people in this thread are being appropriately understanding of your dad and his sobriety, but aren’t taking into account how hard being the family member of an addict can be.”
“You want things to be ‘normal’ that might never be normal and that’s very, very hard.”
“Have you gone to Al-anon, OP? It’s specifically for family members of addicts, and I’ve heard it can be really helpful. I’m sure a lot of people there can relate to you, what you went through when he was drinking and what you’re feeling in terms of wanting to spend time with him now that he’s sober.”
‘I don’t think youre an a**hole for basically wanting to make up for all the years you lost with him when he wasn’t sober, expecting to get that time once he achieved sobriety, only for him to still not quite be there.”
“I think that’s very human of you, and the people in these comments aren’t being open to how hard it is to be a family member of an addict.”
“Have you tried talking to your dad about the meetings but instead of framing it as ‘I wish you’d prioritize family over the meetings,’ asking him what the meetings do for him? What kind of support it provides?”
“Maybe he still feels guilty with loved ones but doesn’t feel that in AA. Maybe he goes to the meetings because he still feels like he’ll slip. Maybe dinners and holidays are hard because he used to drink at them, and he’d be open to some family events that are different from the ones he used to get drunk at.”
“But yeah the best advice I can given is to go to Al-Anon, to hear from people going through what you’re going through. Best of luck to you both.” – FiftyShadesOfGregg
“OP also specifically mentions this is a problem at family gatherings and stuff like that. I’m wondering if he prioritizes AA meetings in case there is alcohol present at family gatherings” – manic_avocado
“Family gatherings, even with happy, functional families, are still loaded with stress. I completely understand why he may need a break and the support of AA to get through them.” – msspider66
“Right. My dad was always the only drinker at all of our family functions. Just because alcohol isn’t there, doesn’t mean it isn’t a trigger for the alcoholic.”
“Our own birthdays growing up were triggers for my dad. Only one drinking, it was just what he did during any celebration, and for our birthdays he always went all out cooking our favorite meals.”
“It was extremely difficult for him to just be at, much less be the main preparer for, a celebration without drinking. But he loved drinking while cooking – especially a special meal.”
“Doing that for us while sober was so difficult for him. It doesn’t need to necessarily be about alcohol being present – often it’s about doing a thing you’re so used to doing while drinking.” – TellSombodyIt_
OP is valid in feeling disconnected from their father, but that doesn’t mean they should accuse him of putting AA meetings over family. Sadly, addiction has effects on the people around the addict too, and it can be necessary for every to work and sacrifice to make things work.