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Can You Tell Me Why Our 13 Year Old Daughter Would Choose to Live with Him (the Alcoholic) After I Left Him for Threatening to Kill Her Brother?

I have been married to an alcoholic for 14 years. I recently left him after he threatened to kill our 8 year old son while I was at work. I had to move in with my parents in another state. I had not been prepared to leave him.

She cried and was unable to concentrate in her new school. She is an honor roll student, top of her class. He said he had changed, that he didn't want to lose his family to alcohol, that we were more important. He told her she belonged in the town we left, with her friends, and the schools band program. She wanted to go back.

She said she missed her Dad. This is the man who paid little attention to her, was not involved in her school activities, did not support her emotionally and who threatened to kill her if I didn't make her stop crying when she was a baby. He would stumble and fall asleep all over the house many a nights.

Due to her crying and my fear of her getting depressed or running away and not being able to adjust to the new home life and school in a healthy way ... I let her go back.

Well, as you may guess he started drinking again. He told me himself and she failed to inform me when it actually started back up. She seems to cover up for him and would do anything to protect him. He said I wasn't coming back to him with the other two kids so he may as well drink. He changed his game.

He waits until late at night to drink after she is in bed or he is done running her to school activities. He is more involved from what has been said. She says she is happy and likes living with him. Could this be true? How could she want to be with the man who was so unkind to her, her brother and sister and myself, her mom, the one who took care of her?

I recognize my own desire to go back to him and struggle with my addiction to an unhealthy, unfulfilling relationship. I love him and want to be with him, yet know I can never be happy nor have my own needs met by this alcoholic. Plus the uncertainty of our sons safety while around him. I clearly see I am codependent. It is all I can do to keep my feet firmly planted away from this man.

Could she at 13 already be codependent? Even if he is not getting drunk in her presence could this effect her and what are some examples of how the affects could show up in her behavior? I want to believe she is stronger than I and can handle it. Thank you! Answer

It's a very difficult situation you face. Unfortunately children are the biggest losers when it comes to there being alcoholism prevalent in a family, and that can play out in all sorts of different ways.

Perhaps on one level your daughter now sees it as her role to become her father's caretaker - protect him and be there for him, since you no longer are. And with alcoholics being notoriously manipulative, he probably plays on that and enforces the image of him being the victim in all this.

So to answer you question, yes, young children can also show codependent tendencies, just as any adult would. And added to that they haven't yet developed the emotional maturity (you could say the same for many adults), to know how to deal with what's going on in a healthy and effective manner.

Don't doubt yourself for leaving your husband, because clearly with the kind of emotional abuse that was part of your marriage, it was an extremely unhealthy environment for you and the kids. So you need to focus on getting on your own feet again and getting to the point where you can provide the kind of home environment where you and the children are safe and happy in.

Your daughter has made her decision for now, so on one level you need to respect that. Trying to turn her against her father would in all likelihood cause more damage than good. But at the same time, her living with his alcoholism does present a number of risks and won't be good for her in the long-run.

So you need to then make the decision as to whether you want to formalise the end of your relationship by getting a divorce, and then custody etc. can be decided on so that your kids are brought up in an environment that will be best for them.

Also don't be afraid to talk to your daughter - try and understand her thinking. It's important that she still feels she can talk to you about anything and that she knows you'll be there for her no matter what.

Best of Luck.

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