Apr 20
  • Written By Scott Drochelman

  • How I Talked To My Kids About My Sobriety

    How I Talked To My Kids About My Sobriety

    How I Talked To My Kids About My Sobriety

    In this Q and A episode Ashley talks about how to explain your sobriety to your kids. Young children in particular might have a difficult time understanding a complex topic like sobriety, but Ashley is able to break it down into manageable pieces that don’t require sharing every gory detail.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame has been clean and sober for 17 years, she’s a drug and alcohol counselor, interventionist, and the co-founder of a telehealth company called Lionrock Recovery that provides substance use disorder treatment.

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    Episode Transcript

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:13):

    You are listening to the Courage to Change a Recovery Podcast. We are a community of recovering people who have overcome the odds and found the courage to change. Each week we share stories of recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, grief and loss, childhood trauma, and other life-changing experiences. Come join us no matter where you are on your recovery journey.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:42):

    Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Courage to Change Your Recovery podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame. I am your host and I am here with producer Scott Drochelman.

    Scott Drochelman (00:57):

    You took your time on that. I thought maybe you forgot my name. And that’s fair. It’s one you hear a million times.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:02):

    Yeah, yeah. A million times. I will, I I, because my accountant’s name is also Scott, I do text you Right. My accounting information.

    Scott Drochelman (01:11):

    Ashley, we got a q and a episode today. I say it like you’re surprised, you know what we’re doing, but I

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:18):

    Dunno what we’re doing.

    Scott Drochelman (01:19):

    <laugh> Ashley, we got a q and a today and the question of the day is how I told my kids about my sobriety. I think this is a question that people probably have some trepidation about, especially if they’re younger or there might be some complex things to have to explain and they don’t know what to do with it. And I can’t say that I blame them. You recently went through this situation and came out the other side. Can you take us back to what happened and what was the recent series of events? Sure. Series of events,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:56):

    <laugh> Sure.

    Scott Drochelman (01:56):


    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:57):

    Ave. Oh Ave. So I have six year old twin boys. One of them is particularly in tune with the world around him, and the other is more of my artist, musically inclined, kind of focused on, you know, his inner world and what he cares about. And the other one is more fo outwardly focused. And I was going to my double winners meeting. This is, this is a, check this out. So it’s an A women’s meeting. It’s AA and Al-Anon. So you have to be a female alcoholic in AA and Al-Anon. Mm. We’re, we’re, we’re the fucking winners. <laugh>. Okay. I think we’re like triple winners at that point. But anyway, so great meeting in Laguna Beach. I’m going to my double winners meeting. And my outwardly focus then is distraught because he doesn’t understand why I just came from work where I go to meetings and now I’m going to a meeting after work.


    And he’s upset with me because he’s like, you just worked all day and we wanna hang out with you. Why are you going to another meeting? Cuz he associates meetings with work, which is understandable. And the plight of the working mom, which is, you know, you have this time after work, everybody wants a piece of it. Sometimes that means that there’s not enough time for everyone to go around and that’s, that is something that makes it really hard to set that boundary. And I explained to him, well, you know, I go to these meetings and my friends are there and we support each other. And I sort of did this kind of vague explanation about what, why I went and how it wasn’t work related, so on and so forth. And how I didn’t set the meeting time. This is what time everyone else is meeting cuz he was like, just change the meeting anyway at one point.


    So he, he sort of calms down and I’m, I’m about to leave. And he’s like, I mom, can you, I need to talk to you privately. And yes, this is my six-year-old <laugh> <laugh>. And sidebar please. Sidebar. Yeah, sidebar, sidebar. And I go, ok. So he come into my room and he goes, mom, you’re not telling me everything. What are you leaving out? You’re not telling me everything. And I’m like, fuck. Uh. And I said, no, I’m not, I’m not telling you everything you’re right because I don’t really know how. And he said, well, I want you to tell me everything. I’m like, all right, well, bombs away. And so I just, I I basically was like, there’s this thing called alcohol. And of course he shamed me and was like, I know what alcohol is. And then I shamed myself because I was like, why do you know what alcohol is?


    <laugh>? There’s a lot of shame. It’s a circle of shame really. I basically said with, you know, I had really big feelings when I was young and sometimes I felt really uncomfortable in my body. And when I discovered this thing, I really liked it and I liked how it made me feel and it helped me with those feelings. But it actually wasn’t helping them. It was hiding them. And this substances also very addictive. And so we talked about what a, you know, I, I used kid language like, you know, addictive means you can’t stop doing it even though you wanna stop. And we sort of talked about like, you know, when you try to stop with the Pringles or you know, like, like things that, or like cheezits, like have one cheezit. You know, we, we talk, I talked about it in like kid language and he asked some question clarifying questions and I said I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t stop.


    And it was causing so many problems in my life and ruining my life. And so these meetings helped me stop. And I explained I haven’t had a drink since I was 19 and I’ve been sober. I’ve been what we call sober, which means no, no alcohol. I I, I left out drugs cuz it’s all the same. These meetings I’ve been going to, they helped me to get sober and I’ve been going to them this whole time and blah, blah, blah. And they helped me to be a great mom and this, that, the other. And he was stoked. He was like, cool, <laugh>, have a great meeting. I was like, ok, ok. <laugh>, there’s no more question. Like what I, and I, I also, I was like, God, this sound like I’m repeating back what like, I think he may have heard, even though those weren’t the words and like, it’s like, mommy has to go to these meetings to like make sure I’m a good mommy and you know, so I don’t drink.


    I, I just, I don’t know, I just, it was like I, it felt like there was no great kid way to explain it. Like there’s a great teenager way to explain it. Right? Or maybe 10 or 12, but six is a really tough time to explain. Mommy used to drink alcohol and is an alcoholic. Like whatever I told him, I go, yeah, actually, like this is something that is part of my work cuz he doesn’t really understand what I do for a living. And you know, I help people get sober and he goes, mommy, that’s not that interesting. <laugh> and I’m a firefighter. Nothing. Uh, nothing. Nothing, nothing. Okay, great. Okay, great. I’ll just go to this meeting where I’m a double winner there, <laugh>. And, and so he’s st he’s like, I’ll see you later, whatever. I get into the car and just start uncontrollably sobbing, which is not really my shtick.


    I am not easily moved to tears unless there’s animals involved, in which case mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I’m hot mess express. But also my body, because I get migraines, my body does not allow me to like really cry easily because it is a one-way ticket to migraine city. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So there’s like a bunch of things there that make it unusual for me to just like, have like huge emotional outpour. And I did like, I just, I was like, I don’t know what’s happening <laugh>. I think I’m dying. <laugh>. Uh, I called everyone. I was like, guys, I’m crying. We could, it, I it could be serious. I don’t know. It was just a really, it was interesting, like we talked through a lot of things. One of the things that I looked at was that he is a little bit older than I was when my childhood sexual abuse happened.


    And he’s a little bit younger than I was when I had my first drink. So I was seven when I had my first drink and I was five when the abuse happened. And so there’s that piece of it, like, and his questions and kind of just looking at him and he is such a carbon copy of me. Mm. That it’s, that it’s really scary. Like it’s, it’s terrifying honestly to see and to look at and also a headache. The amount of negotiating that I do, this kid is unbelievable at negotiating, which I’m like, I’m like, this is a great skill you’re gonna have when, when you’re adult. Could you not have it now? <laugh>, I’m very, very, very, very tired. So the, there was the a that aspect of it. And then also I think there was just this aspect of telling your kids something, number one, you’re afraid for them about.


    And number two, just a, it was like an unexpected vulnerability for me. And I, I don’t love unexpected vulnerability, you know, it’s my kid, it’s my alcoholism. It’s like the, these are the biggest, most important topics in my world. And I felt like he was seeing a part of me that I, I didn’t know how to explain. And then I almost didn’t want him to see the previous part even though, you know, it’s a positive thing. And for those listening who have kids who have been part of your alcoholism, it’s a different thing, right? You, if my kids had seen me drink, it would actually be a lot easier to explain mm-hmm. <affirmative> what was going on. And not that, not that there wouldn’t be more damage or that it’s preferable, but just that if your kids are around to see the behavior, you, you’re explaining something tangible to them. And my, I’m explaining something abstract to them of I’m explaining about a person they’ve, they don’t know anything about, they’ve never seen us drink or, or use and almost irrelevant to them other than I go to these meetings. And that felt hard to like bring into the six year old conversation. And, and so I, I, I ha it was a really like powerful, positive experience and also gave me the opportunity to experience, you know, a great intense migraine and some big emotions around it.

    Scott Drochelman (09:51):

    If you were to break down kind of like what were the, that you felt like were maybe good mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. Or repeatable and then maybe whatever you would add in order to take it all the way to a 10.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (10:02):

    I think the things that I said that were good were, I talked about the experience of basically being someone with ism, alcoholism as, as we call it. Which is, I had these really big feelings. I had a lot of fears. I didn’t know how to handle it. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt different, you know, like explaining what the feelings in my body were and how this substance was helpful at first. You know, I said like, you know, it helped me with some of those feelings at first except that it wasn’t actually helping, it made it worse. But I didn’t see that. And then saying I couldn’t stop even though I wanted to. And then really talking about how when I stopped these meetings were a really, really important part of that. And I’ve been going to them ever since with my friends and we support each other and we help each other to do this. And it’s an important part of my life. And I, I, you know, I don’t drink alcohol, you know, at all. And it helps me to be a better mom. I think that what would’ve put it at a 10 would have been maybe asking him what he heard me say to repeat back what he heard me say.

    Scott Drochelman (11:14):

    Yeah. So that you can get the little telephone game that is talking to a kid.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:18):

    Yeah. So I can hear what it’s gonna be before it ends up at at school. Cause that’s obviously where that’s headed.

    Scott Drochelman (11:24):

    <laugh> she said she’s addicted to Pringles and that <laugh>

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:28):

    I should have checked to make sure what was, what was, uh, being absorbed with anything remotely close to what I was saying. But I was so relieved that he was relieved that I was like, I am going to exit

    Scott Drochelman (11:40):

    Get out of the bank. Yeah.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:42):

    <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I was like, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go. And you know, and he’s been fine. He’s asked no questions since then. It hasn’t come up. And I think if he was a teenager there would’ve been, it would’ve been a lot easier. There would’ve been a lot more language I could use and experiences I could share. But I think ultimately it felt good to be honest with him. And the honesty wasn’t like I was a badass, slamming dope, whatever, like doing all these things. It was like this was the beginning, this is what happened. And then it kind of escalated from here and acknowledging that the alcohol did something for me because I think a huge mistake we make is to just demonize alcohol. And then of course they drink it, our kids drink it and they’re like, wow, I feel a lot better. What the fuck were they talking about? Yes. And I, I want it to be in the back of their head like, oh yeah, she said she felt a lot better and then it started to get worse. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I don’t wanna demonize alcohol because they may have a different experience and I honestly don’t think alcohol in and of itself as a, as a solution, as a chemical is particularly evil. I just think it, it has reactions with people that are less than ideal. It,

    Scott Drochelman (12:51):

    It may come up beforehand, but let’s say that you don’t revisit the conversation again until they’re 10. Right. Like, okay. And, and that’s when it comes back. What might you add to what you’ve already said are some helpful, repeatable kinds of things.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (13:04):

    A girlfriend of mine said, she tells her kids that she, that that mommy and daddy, cuz daddy’s sober too, that mommy and daddy go to meetings to expand their relationship with God. And that those aren’t the words that I would personally use. You know, a core part of, of the 12 step program is this idea of higher power and it gets a really bad wrap. And it on for good reason. It gets a, you know, they, they they do not marketing has is not their sheet.

    Scott Drochelman (13:36):


    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (13:38):

    Not, I’m like guys, guys, guys, that’s definitely a Christian prayer. Okay? But also for those of us who are not religious, there is a part about finding spirituality that is so valuable to what we’re doing and it’s really beyond God as in the religious God. If, if you want it to be, if you don’t, you know, something that I really want for my kids, which is very surprising and feels out of character for me, is the ability to feel connected to the planet and to humanity and, and, and the system and the nature and all the things like disconnectedness and alcoholism is all about. It breeds in isolation. It’s all about being disconnected. You are fully disconnected and you shrivel and get more and more and more and more. And you can’t see your way out of a paper bag because you’re completely disconnected the longer I’m sober and the, the quality of my recovery is directly proportional to how connected I am.


    Just generally just connected, period. So I want my kids to understand that at some level and have their own experience with that. And I as, because I am not straight religious, I don’t know how to give that to them. Mm-hmm. I don’t, I, I don’t know what to say. They asked me questions about God and I’m like, I give the fucking the brainy answer, which is terrible that no kid wants, I didn’t want it when my dad gave it to me. Although his was way worse. <laugh>. I was like, well we’re not gonna be using that answer <laugh>. And I still, you know, they’ll ask me, did God make this? I don’t know. That’s a, you know, a lot of people believe that, but we don’t, I don’t really know. I don’t have that information for, you know, it’s like who the, they’re five, they’re six. They don’t like, bitch, get your shit together. Why don’t you know that <laugh>? Weren’t you just in school pick up

    Scott Drochelman (15:26):

    On your phone? You have a phone?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (15:28):

    Yeah. Yeah. They have, they did say that. They said, can we Google it? And I was like, probably I want them to, I want them to see that it’s important. I want them to un, I want to learn a better about how to give that to them and to have those conversations. All that is to say that I think explaining that I continue to go because this portion of my life is important and this is how I feel connected to a greater purpose as they get older. That explanation will come back to things I’ve said over and over again and just, I think we start to talk about a little bit about that it’s genetic and what that means

    Scott Drochelman (16:09):

    Perfectly. To transition to the next question I would have. Okay. Which is one of the first ones I would imagine you might have field, which is am I gonna be an alcoholic?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (16:17):

    I mean, honestly I feel like that would be a great question. Like <laugh> I would love that question. Yeah. Because otherwise, otherwise the answer is like me getting into like you might be an alcoholic <laugh>. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. So I’m like, yeah, if you ask it, I didn’t bring it up. Yeah. I, I, I think I would basically explain to them, look, you know, you know how we have the same eye color, you know how you look like mommy or you know how your feet look like daddy’s feet. I always say you have daddy’s feet or we start to talk about personality things. Those are genetics because you came from our bodies and we don’t know what genetics you’re gonna have. And I think I would talk about it with respect to like, you know how I’m allergic to grass and Davis is allergic to grass.


    We didn’t know that until he rolled in grass <laugh>. And, and I think I might compare it to that, like, you may have an abnormal reaction to these substances or not and it’s something you’re gonna have to be aware of. And I, you know, I wanna support you in that process and be here for you because it’s a scary thing getting addicted to something. And again, I have one kid that will be like dialed in, hear everything I say. I have another kid who could not fucking care less <laugh>. So, you know, I, it’s again, it’s like two totally different circumstances but I’m, I’m cons, you know, I’m, I’m doing it as if I’m talking to a 10 year old version of my kid who you know is completely dialed in And we, I think at that point we start to talk about like, you and I may share some of these things and here’s some of the things I see and here’s what it felt like and if my, my kids drink or when my kids drink, I should say I want them, if they start to feel things I’ve described, I want a bell to go off in their head.


    Yeah. It doesn’t mean that you’re gonna do anything but I want like a little, oh yeah she said this or Oh yeah. Just some sort of acknowledgement because that is extremely helpful when you start to think that you have a problem, it changes your drinking. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and it becomes less fun. And I want to be able to have open dialogue.

    Scott Drochelman (18:20):

    Well I think we’ll revisit this conversation. I don’t think this is the last time we’re gonna touch on something peripheral to this topic because I think this is probably something that a lot of people are struggling with how to navigate cuz it’s complex. But we hope this is helpful. Ashley, any last words of wisdom for people who might find themselves in this situation that you found yourself in very

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (18:41):

    Recently? Yeah. I think telling the truth at its most basic and core level, whatever that looks like is the best policy, the best option. And the truth is a lot of different things. But if you are faced with talking to your kids about it, you know, talking about the truth, the truth is you didn’t feel comfortable in your skin. The truth is that you used something and it turned on you. Like those are all truths. You don’t have to give them horrifying detail. The truth can be the foundation of what happened. And I think that that is always a good rule of thumb. I hope this was helpful. Please let us know. We love to hear from you podcast Lion rock.life. One last thing. We so appreciate it when you go to Apple Podcasts and leave us a review and a rating. Just typing in a little rating is so helpful for us. It is podcast currency. If you listen to this podcast, you enjoy it. Please take a couple minutes and go and leave us a rate and review. All right everybody, we’ll see you next time. This podcast is sponsored by Lion Rock dot. Life Lion rock.life is a diverse and supportive recovery community offering weekly over 70 online peer support meetings, useful recovery information and entertaining content. Whether you’re newly sober, have many years in recovery or you’re recovering from something other than drugs and alcohol, we have space for you. Visit www.lionrock.life today and enter promo code courage for one month of unlimited peer support. Meetings free. Find the joy in recovery@lionrock.life.

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