Friends Drinking While Watching Your Children

Updated on November 25, 2010
S.B. asks from Austin, TX
19 answers

Ok so this is new to me. I have a 11 year old that was at friends of our's house the other night. The wife ALWAYS has a couple drinks, every night though rarely do I see her act "drunk" the husband may have one but again rarely do I see him "drunk". The other night while my daughter was there he texted my husband, clearly drunk and belligerent, joking or not, he was "drunk". So I am at home and now I am worried because there is a drunken gathering going on at their house and God forbid anyone got hurt, all adults are either wasted or have had 2-3 cocktails. I immediately drive over to get my daughter as I do not think this is an acceptable or safe environment for her any longer. Here is the rub, they are annoyed at me because I suggested that they were unfit to watch my daughter when they were just having fun. The wife claims she was not drunk (maybe not but I have NEVER not known her to have at least 2 cocktails in a night) and perfectly capable of taking care of the kids. Really, I have never watched anyone elses children and gotten drunk or I think even had one cocktail while they were in my care. These are our friends and I really like them but from now on I will have to ask when my daughter is staying there...Is one of you going to be sober tonight? And by that I mean not drinking. Is that obnoxious? Does anyone else do this? I actually think this is a larger problem than most people think.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of your feedback. I did have the conversation with her and made it totally non-judgmental saying it just dawned on me that this could be very dangerous if something should happen to anyone or my child. I reminded her of Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson when all adults were drinking and a kid drowned. I said I am sorry that I have to lay down the rule that if there will not be some adult who is not drinking in the house in case of emergency then I prefer the girls come to my house or we make plans for another day. This is very black and white to me but for some people it is kinda grey and you have to explain it, really carefully. If they are decent human beings they will get it. Fortunately they did so all is well.

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answers from Albany on

I guess I would just not even address the issue. I guess I would continue to have the child over to MY house, and then come up with a thousand reasons why my kid can't go to their house, until they stop asking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Youngstown on

I agree with you 100%. If I found out someone was drinking while watching my child, that would be the last time.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Philadelphia on

One of my best friends has a drinking problem, and her daughter and mine are best friends as well... my daughter knows to call home if things look like they are getting out of hand, and she also knows not to get in the car with her... ever... because people who drink that much do not appear to be drunk all the time, but are certainly too impaired to drive... reaction times being slowed down is enough for an accident to happen.

We also have some "codes" that her daughter and mine use... like they will call me and ask if they can come and play a certain game on the PS3 at our house, and I know then that I need to go and get both of the girls... it is hard, but I can't take my daughter away from her best friend just because of her mothers actions... and since we have a system worked out, everything is okay, they live close enough that they can now walk back and forth so they really don't need the "codes" anymore, unless she is trying to get them to go somewhere with them in the car or something.

Sorry you are going through this, it sucks!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on need to be really careful about who watches your kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

There are plenty of people who are alcoholics and in denial.
If they are mad at you, they're just out to shoot the latest messenger.
Besides emergencies, how difficult is it for a kid to start drinking alcohol when the attending adults are drunk or just see it as something normal that 'everyone' does?
Have their kid over to your house as often as you can and don't let your daughter spend the nights over there.
This would be a great question to bring up at an Al-anon meeting. I'd love to know what they would say about a situation like this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

When you say "cocktail," I'm assuming you mean liquor, and not a glass of wine with dinner?

The first thing that popped into my head: a girlfriend, her husband, and some friends were having a couple of beers after the kids went to bed, supposedly, but the kids were roughhousing instead and one of them fell. She had to go next door to find someone who could drive him to the emergency room. (He turned out okay - not even a concussion, thank goodness.) Are you comfortable having her with someone who can't be helpful in an emergency? Or driving her to the hospital after having two or three cocktails?

And I know that this could get awkward - these people are your friends, after all, and you know them and I of course don't - but 2 or 3 cocktails every single night sounds a lot like alcoholism. I know some fine and wonderful people who are recovering alcoholics, mind you, but they will be the first to tell you that there is a reason they can't keep alcohol in the house. If it's there, they'll drink it. I know one man who won't keep Listerine in the house, because it's alcohol based. So, frankly, asking the mom not to drink while your kid is there may very well be an impossible expectation.

Note that being an alcoholic does not mean that you act drunk or even get drunk all the time. It means that you need alcohol to feel "normal." But once you start drinking, it is easy to keep going.

And yes, they'll find this obnoxious and offensive. It's hard to hear from someone that you might not have self-control. And I don't envy your position at all, but no, I don't think that getting drunk is appropriate while baby-sitting. I wouldn't leave my kid there alone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

They will think it obnoxious. Do it anyway.

Taking care of a child is a great responsibility. Your friends think they can be perfectly responsible while they're drinking. If you're not sure about that - and obviously you aren't - maybe they should not be taking care of your daughter.

Yes, there will be hard feelings, but your daughter's well-being comes first.

Keep in mind that alcohol - and I don't differentiate between wine and other drinks here - impairs judgment. That means you understand drunkenness better when you're sober, not when you're drinking.

You all may need to get so busy with your daughter that there isn't time for her to be with your friends unless you're there, too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't even drink if hubby has a few and our kids are home what if there was ever an emergency you need one sober adult. I think you were right to get her and if they can't see they have a problem I don't know if I would let my child go over there I might prefer the girl go to your house instead.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

I doubt your friends will "stop" drinking just to watch your child.... they might tell you they wont, but they probably will anyway, lie to you about, and hide it if they must.
You will probably lose them as friends since you are challenging their parenting skills.
I'd say they are not on the same page you are and if you don't want your children taken care of by people that are indulging you already have your answer on that particular couple.
Personally, I would probably have to be drinking in order to watch anyones kids, so I DONT babysit EVER... haha.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't think that the parents having a glass of wine or cocktail is a big deal at all, but this sounds like more. the belligerent drunk texting is a red flag, isn't it? good for you for risking their annoyance and going to get your kid.
you need to feel your daughter is safe. it's an uncomfortable conversation, but i think you are well within your rights to ask it, the same way you might ask about guns in the home or have concerns about a swimming pool. it's a conversation parents should be prepared to have.
if they're not willing to be open to this, i think leslie's 'code' solution is a good one. or you might just have to nix sleepovers there, which will certainly cause tension and maybe affect the friendship.
be very courteous and non-judgmental, make sure you don't sound censorious or accusatory. but keep your boundaries firm.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

From personal experience i can honestly say that my husband will have beer with friends, i may have a few but i always stay clear-headed nowadays, ever since i had kids. My days of being drunk are behind me. My daughter has sleepovers and i will have 1 or 2 and not even think twice about it. But my husband being drunk is no indication that i am, same could go for her.

But none of that matters, what matters is what you think and how you feel, you must be comfortable with where your daughter sleeps, and thats all there is to it. it doesnt matter if it makes you feel obnoxious. More people need to be obnoxious IMO

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Wayne on

That's an interesting question. My first thought was that your daughter is 11 and probably old enough to take care of herself, but then I thought "What if there was an emergency? Who would drive them to the hospital?" It sounds like you live close enough that you could drive over there, if need be, but still....
If they chose to drink and drive with your child in the car....
Was it a "drunken gathering" or was it just the mom and dad drinking? I would be really upset if it was a party, but I don't know if I'd be mad if it were just the mom and dad having a few drinks.
The bottom line is that you are your daughter's mother. If you don't feel comfortable with her in their house, then she shouldn't go. On the flip side, it's their house and I suppose if they want to drink, then there's nothing you can really do to stop them. I think I would ask that the friend come over to your house in the future. That way you avoid the situation all together.



answers from Atlanta on

Well, we regularly have friends over who also have small children, and they bring their kids and we all have drinks and hang out while the kids play. You could definitely say there are differing levels of "drunkeness" or drinking. Some people get quite a heavy buzz and others just have a few drinks and are not impaired in any way. Honestly -2 cocktails really shouldn't have much of an effect on that mom -especially if she has a couple every night. The dad over there was stupid and acting so to be texting your husband and fooling around like an 18 year old. If you're uncomfortable, then that's your call, but as long as one of them only had a few drinks, I wouldn't worry -especially in regards to an 11 year old. As far as emergencies -probably won't happen, but 911 should be an option in Austin if someone thought they couldn't or shouldn't drive. This would only be a real problem for me if I was leaving kids with them in a babysitting capacity or if I knew they were both getting truly buzzed or drunk.



answers from Louisville on

I would also use this as an opportunity to have a teachable moment with my child. That she knows that if she is ever in a situation where there is alcohol and/or drugs being used and she is uncomfortable, she can call you for a ride home - no questions asked. In a few years, it may be friends of hers and she needs to know that you care more about her safety than anything else.



answers from Boise on

A glass of wine, I wouldn't really worry about if the kid was 11, but if this is a habitual thing, I definitely wouldn't think that you are out of line. They are responsible for your child. My in-laws are like that. While we have never left my children with them for multiple reasons, I wouldn't even feel comfortable asking my FIL to stay at our house in a pinch, with the kids because he would have to have a drink.



answers from New York on

Regardless of whether or not an emergency ever arises while your daughter is at her friend's house, I think the question really is do you want her in that kind of environment on a regular basis if it goes against what you think is acceptable. Personally, I would NEVER allow my kids to frequent a home where alcohol is being abused, and it sounds like this is the case in your friend's home. Instead of confronting them and asking if there will be a sober adult there when your child is visiting (which, even though I disagree with the drinking, would probably be pretty insulting to them), I would just begin to limit the amount of time my daughter spends there, and eventually eliminate it unless they change their ways (which seems pretty unlikely). She shouldn't have to witness that nonsense on a regular basis.



answers from Dallas on

If it was my children, I would want to ensure they are in a safe environment. and you as the parent gets to define "safe" so if you are uncomfortable with this, you need to tell them and I do not think your request is unacceptable.
Maybe set some time aside for coffee and share with them your concerns as a parent and that you are comfortable talking to them about it because you know they are responsible and don't have a drinking problem where they HAVE TO drink every night, etc.
Good luck.



answers from Boston on

I know that you have already gotten feedback from others and feel good about the exchange with the couple. However as a Social Worker I feel it is important that parents realize that if you knowingly allow your child to be in a situation where substances are being used, you are could be considered legally "neglectful', as would the couple caring for the children. In our society we are all responsible for the care of others, and being a witness to,or having knowledge of a act that could/has harmed another, makes us equally responsible.



answers from San Francisco on

You are not being obnoxious. You are being a smart, prepared, responsible parent. I would not let my kids be in anyone's care if they were drinking period. Do what is right for your family-no matter what.


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