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Nick News Lesson Plan

Nick News

Life with an Alcoholic Parent

Grades 5-8

Students will learn about the common problems and feelings of youth living in families hurt by alcoholism. Students will learn important messages and strategies to empower children from alcoholic families to positively cope with the many challenges they face.

1.To understand the typical problems and feelings children face growing up in an alcoholic family.

2.To teach students important strategies and messages to successfully cope with the challenges children of alcoholics face.

3.To describe how a friend can help.

TV and DVD player
DVD of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Under the Influence: Kids of Alcoholics It’s Not Your Fault pamphlet *
Alateen: Basic Questions and Answers*
NACoA: Questions and Answers about Alcoholism*
(* Free downloadable materials. Links are listed below.)

Prior to Viewing: 5-10 minutes

Ask the students one or two of the following questions:

1.How many children in America have an alcoholic parent?
One in four people under 18 lives in a family hurt by alcoholism.
2.What are some of the common problems these youngsters face?

Some of these problems include:
- worry that the alcoholic parent might get sick, hurt or die
- embarrassed to bring friends over
- anxious and confused about their parent’s inconsistent,unpredictable behavior
- frequent headaches and stomachaches from all the stress
- taking care of the parent instead of the parent taking care of them

3. What are some of the typical feelings children of alcoholics experience?
-confusion, not understanding why the drinking and all the problems keep happening
- guilty – believing that it is their fault
- fear – something terrible might happen
- anger
- hurt

Show Program: 22 minutes

Suggest to students to take notes during the video for discussion afterwards. Have them key in to the feelings and problems each youngster faced with their alcoholic parent. Have the students especially focus on how each youth positively handled the difficulties in their families.

Activity: 20 minutes

Here you have an option of four different activities to choose from for the remaining time. We suggest you pick one and focus on it.

1) Review the DVD with a focus on each youth's story.



"I kept Mom’s drinking a secret"

Cooked dinner for herself

Cleaned the house

"I was the mom"





What Helped Her Cope:

"Friends helped me"

Talked to them and got great advice



Dad would get angry and mean

Couldn't concentrate at school – worried about Dad

Dad didn't come to his football games





What Helped Him Cope:

He joined a support group where he let his feelings out and learned that the alcoholism wasn't his fault.



I didn’t have a dad (he was drunk)

Couldn’t understand what his dad was saying

Sam moved away and left his friends behind






What Helped Him Cope:

Counselor – Sam's family did an intervention



Mom broke promises (Mom continued to drink when she promised to stop)

Worried that Mom might die

Beer cans all over the house





What Helped Him Cope:

Grandma. Going to Grandma's house for support



Mom slammed the door on her arm

Mom going out and drinking

Staying home and taking care of her mom

Thinking it was all her fault

"Mom loves drinking more than me"






What Helped Her Cope:

Church youth group – I could talk to them.

Important Messages for Children of Alcoholics

1.You are not alone.

2.It is not your fault.

3.You can't fix the alcoholism.

4.You can't get alcoholism if you don't drink alcohol

5.Talk with an adult you trust. Talk to a trusted adult like a grandparent, aunt, uncle, a friend's parent or someone at school like a teacher, school counselor or nurse.

You can click here for a very helpful brochure with what every child of an alcoholic needs to know:
This is a free downloadable that you can make copies and review with the students.

Here are Some Helpful Hints from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics

If it's your friend’s mom or dad who drinks too much

Things you can say that might help:

- It's not your fault that your parent drinks or uses drugs

- You're not alone – lots of kids come from families where this is a problem

- There are people who can help

Things you can do:

- Tell a school counselor or teacher that you are worried about your friend

- Be a good friend – include your friend in your activities

- Encourage your friend to talk to a trusting adult


This may be an emotionally charged issue for students, so please keep the discussion brief and general. It has been our experience that the school counselor may be the best person to present this sensitive material. There are two other excellent resources you may include here, if time allows.

1. Alateen is a support group for teens who are concerned about a loved one’s drinking. Go to: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/newcomer.html

2. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) is an excellent resource for youth. Go to: http://nacoa.org/addictqa.html and explore their Just 4 Kids page. It provides a wealth of helpful, age-appropriate information and resources for youth, especially a Questions and Answers about Addiction page.

Betty Ford Institute