Children in meetings

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Children in meetings

Postby trent » Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:54 pm

I am wondering how other groups have addressed the issue of children attending meetings with their parents.

We have recently had a bad situation where anonymity was broken, by a child who was attending the meetings with their mother. It ended very badly for all involved. It is creating some questions for us as a group now, having always been pretty loose on this issue. Any input or shared experience would be appreciated.

Thanks

Trent

P.S.

Not sure if this is the correct place for this post. Please move if more appropriate somewher else on the forums.
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Re: Children in meetings

Postby Barry » Mon Feb 03, 2003 11:05 pm

Gooooood topic!

This is definitely something that comes up--and is perfect for a home group topic.

It's not like anyone wants to be unfriendly.

This is a dyin' disease... serious business.

Hard to recover with kids or babies making noise, or creating other problems as the program is really for those with a desire to stop drinking.

Period.

It's so important we can go somewhere, at least for one hour a day, and hear the message of hope that is the program of recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous. How else are we to survive?

Just one place in the oft-times cold and chaotic world where I can count on some serenity, and some spiritual fellowship.

I love kids. Heck, I'm a teacher! But at AA meetings, no... sorry... unfortunately it just doesn't work.

The group can decide. The group can take a vote... or as we say in AA, a "group conscience." It's about knowing the Traditions, and applying them to the group. For the health and welfare of the members, and the group.

I suggest you folks get a hold of some pamphlets: "The AA Group--where it all begins..." Read them. Discuss them. Hold a business or group conscience meeting for all those who consider themselves members of the group. That's what we do at AA.

"The AA Group" pamphlet explains what a group is and is not... it will really help with this situation, and others that certainly will arise.

Hope that helps.

_-_ Barry

P.S. Some groups do pitch in and supply a babysitter... or the mothers do. With reasonable discussion, and problem-solving... and that group conscience meeting... you'll work it out. Thanks for the post, T. Good one.

<small>[ 02-03-2003, 10:08 PM: Message edited by: Barry C ]</small>
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Re: Children in meetings

Postby curtis s » Tue Feb 04, 2003 4:32 pm

A good topic and one that can be an important issue for some groups. I think Barry's ideas are good in terms of how to address the situation. Each group is autonomous. Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Important traditions to remember. Of course it isn't always that simple. After all many suffering alcoholics are single parents with limited child care resources.

I haven't experienced a child breaking someones anonymity. More often the issue is unsupervised children creating problems with the place we meet in, such as messing up a church school room down the hall. The groups solution has ususally been to make an announcement that children must be under the control of their parents at all times. Sometimes kids can be disruptive but never to the point where it interfered with what I came to the meeting for except when it was my own child, in which case I had to attend to the child and became distracted or sometimes had to leave with the child.

Seeking the guidance of a loving higher power is the solution. I don't know what the specifics might be in your situation.

Of course this is in realtion to little kids at meetings. A 12 year old with a desire to stop drinking of course is a different matter.

Excellent topic

Curt

<small>[ 02-04-2003, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: curt ]</small>
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Re: Children in meetings

Postby Dean C » Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:31 pm

I read an article in Box 4-5-9 some time ago that pointed out, as I recall, the great lengths we go to, the energy and time we expend, on 12th Step calls and providing AA services and access to meetings for deaf, blind, wheelchair-bound, homebound, and so on. The author noted that it's also probably the spiritual responsibility of local AA's to figure out how to make sure single parents can attend meetings, even if that means figuring out how to do child care.

I know, it's hard to be spiritual with a child screaming in your ear or spilling a soda on your shoes. I just remembered that article and thought I'd share it.
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Re: Children in meetings

Postby Barry » Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:48 pm

Truth be known... I used to bring my two year old to some meetings--especially my home group--when I was first getting sober.

I would sit next to the door, and if he she started fussing at all, we went outside. I didn't bring her very many times... because it just didn't work. It was basically impossible for me to really be present, and I didn't want to disturb anyone else.

I remember once, we walked up to a meeting... or actually I think we'd gone outside after the meeting had started because Lindsey wanted to move around. It was dark outside, and through the lighted basement windows she could see my sponsor sitting in the circle, during the meeting, and said out loud: "There's Mike!"

It made me feel good as I realized she was so little, and yet knew someone so good. Before Mike, and a few other AA friends I was starting to hang out with... there wasn't really any other friends of mine (if you could call them that) I'd be happy or proud she could recognize.

Nobody ever said anything to me about her--they knew I was struggling to work lousy jobs, and they knew I was butting my head up against a wall when it came to dealing with my kid's mother. But more than anything--they knew I was dedicated, sometimes even desperate, to get to my meetings. (That and they knew I was respectful of the meeting--would jam as soon as she fussed.)

Soon, with some sober time, things started working out where it was never an issue of my having to bring her to meetings. I just always had a babysitter; or I'd worked it out with her mother in just a few months time where we could finally communicate a bit.. could agree I could hit the meetings I needed to... and she would take our child. Funny how things started going smoother once I wasn't drinking anymore!

LOL! :roll:

You know, as I read about the history of AA--like I was doing today for instance, in the pamphlet "AATraditions: How they developed," it sure seems I'm always running across stories of how the old-timers used to pitch in and help each other out. Truly, it just seems like they pulled together a lot more than what is happening these days.

I mean... don't get me wrong. It's good. The fellowship is a place where we can make true friends who help us through thick and thin. But I really think that back in the beginning--and even not so long ago--AAs did whatever it took to help each other stay sober.

Maybe it was because there were no rehabs.

No daycares.

Man, maybe I've gone a wee bit cold-hearted, too, lately.

Forgotten how hard it used to be, espcecially with that little girl in my life.

Thanks for giving me the chance to remember, to think.

Undoubtedly, I'll remember this conversation next time I'm at a meeting where a child is present--or in a group conscience meeting where the members are deciding what to do about this puzzling dilemma... and an oftentimes frustrating situation.

Having said ALL of this... I still think it is imperative children are not allowed to disrupt the meeting. There just has to be a solution.


_-_ Barry

<small>[ 02-05-2003, 12:47 PM: Message edited by: Barry C ]</small>
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Re: Children in meetings

Postby trent » Sun Feb 09, 2003 11:05 pm

Thanks for the replys..lot of good thoughts.

I was remembering a meeting I went to a few times in Portland where they had a volunteer from the group watch childern in another room while the meeting was on. And thought that was pretty cool. Pulling together for each other.

Personaly, I don't want anyone not to be able to attend a meeting if they need one becuase they cannot find someone to watch their child for them. But, at the same time, to show some respect and not allow the childern to be to disruptive. With older childern, well, in AA meetings a lot of things can be said, and I don't think it is appropriate for them to be there hearing that stuff.

Thanks all.

<small>[ 02-10-2003, 06:46 AM: Message edited by: roy_69 ]</small>
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Postby Joe H » Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:27 pm

Thought I would revisit this topic because it seems to be one that comes up quite often in Open Meetings. All meeting in this area read the Blue Card which explains whether the meeting is open or closed. The Open side does not exclude anyone, the Closed restricts the meeting to only alcoholics. Both sides of the card ask that all sharing be restricted to our singleness of purpose.

When I came into the Rooms I had no contact with any of my family. I had had different titles that described my relationships, son, brother, cousin, nephew, uncle, husband and the one I was proudest of, Dad. I eventually failed to be any of these and was left only with one title, The Drunk. My most devastating loss was that of being my daughters Dad. At the time of my sobriety date I had fathered three daughters and none where in my life. One was buried in the town cemetery, one hated me, one was scared of me and I was not able to hug any of them with a kiss. Also a barrier was the fact that I could not go to my daughters and tell them I was sober and never going to drink again. They had heard that lie too many times. To me this is a Fellowship of Hope. At a few of the meetings I attended I saw members with their children whom they shared were not in their life when they got sober. It gave me Hope, there was truth in Chapter 9 and I was exposed to the living family afterwards.

My Home Group is relatively new (read some about it in the Discussion folder, "Something I'd like to share"). At our first Group Conscience we decided that we wanted to make the Group a celebration of sobriety and as accessible as possible to all. The subject of children came up because one of the members at her toddler with her. We came to the conclusion that we would be a Child Friendly meeting. We looked at the time of the meeting, 8:30 Saturday morning This was not a time advantageous to finding a babysitter or childcare. There are many single parents, weekend custody parents, spouse working parents, and parents who after being away from the children during the work week just wanted to be with their children. We also ruled out the parents taking turns watching the kids in a separate room, they are there after all to hear the message. We set up a table in the rear of the meeting as the coloring and reading table with at least a couple of the parents sitting there and it has worked out great. Yes there is the occasional outburst but we look at it as the sounds of living. We are a speaker/discussion meeting so when the meeting starts all including the speaker are asked to use no curse words as there are children present. We are continuously growing in membership and one thing we all love is seeing all the kids join us in the Our Father at the end of the meeting.

It is very special to me on those occasions when I get to take some little ones with me when they are visiting from South Carolina. I have a new title since I got sober....Pop-Pop ( 7 times :D ).

I thank my first Home Group and this present Home Group for teaching what Love and Tolerance is. I am also thankful to the the little ones who ever once in awhile remind me that I may have learned love and tolerance from my Home Group and now get to practise it in my Home Group, my new extended family.
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Postby bowlerdawg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:12 pm

i have very mixed feelings about it, because i don't want somebody who needs a meeting to miss out on it by not bringing their kids especially in early sobriety

i have 2 young children myself, but i cant really think about the topic at hand with my kids there anyway ( although i've never brought them to an AA meeting ) just in general

i know i have a hard time staying focused when children are being disruptive, but what kills me is the parent who seems not to care about the group, and lets the child carry on

i know i stopped attending a meeting for just such a reason
i was not mad i just found another meeting

if you got quiet kids sure no prob, but you are talking about breaking someones identity as an alcoholic that's a different ball of was all together

you cant have other people breaking you identity if you don't want it broken imo

wow tough question
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Postby Joe H » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:54 pm

if you got quiet kids sure no prob, but you are talking about breaking someones identity as an alcoholic that's a different ball of was all together

Dawg, I don't think any of us are happy about our anonymity being broken but it happens. It happens by people visiting open meetings for Birthdays, it happens by ex members, it happens by members in good standing, from time to time it just happens.

However, to the best of my knowledge I have never been hurt in any way by my anonymity being broken. Sure there are times I have been left speechless. One in particular time was when I had taken a lady in the fellowship out for Sunday breakfast at a crowded local diner. While waiting to pay the bill a man came up to us and said in an above conversational tone, "Joe it is great to see ya, I haven't seen you since I stopped going to AA." LOL and he was not a child.

I have placed myself in God's care, who can hurt me by breaking my anonymity? He will protect me and therefore I shall not worry about it.
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Postby bowlerdawg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:22 pm

* wax * correction

i was just speaking to the persons identity of the original post who suffered because of what happened is all
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Postby Joe H » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:04 pm

i was just speaking to the persons identity of the original post who suffered because of what happened is all

I understand but I stayed away from that specific example because there is not enough to go on and I was not there.

I do know that there are those, both in and out of the rooms, who use any situation to revolve around them. In many of these case if they bask in the limelight of being the aggrieved victim and solicit sympathy.

There is no evidence posted that anyone suffered but rather the incident was used to bring disharmony to the group. If it had happened to me I would have asked the parent if I may talk to them personally and explain my concerns.

How are you doing, Dawg? Enjoying life?
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Postby bowlerdawg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:19 pm

good point Joe
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Postby Johnny » Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:28 pm

This is an interesting topic and I for one am glad the old thread was bumped. It's close to something I'm dealing with myself. My 4 year old is a great kid, but lately she's taken a shine to the word alcoholic. Every time I have a guest in the house she wants to know if that person is an alcoholic. In a way it's kind of funny, but I of course am concerned about her telling everyone in her school that her Daddy's an alcoholic and goes to AA meetings. It's a small community and of course there are plenty of people who don't see alcoholisim as a disease.

I know that as a sober member of AA. sooner or later. my anonymoty is going to be broken, but I'd sure like to try and prevent it as best I can. You know, a 4 year old is never in a million years going to understand anonymoty. My tack has been to just try to not bring it up around her and when she starts saying alcoholic over and over again to just ignore it and give her no reaction at all. I don't know if anyone can really suggest anything else, but if so, I'd really like to hear it.

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Postby Jim 725 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:36 pm

Just my own experience with local meetings.
A number of meetings are held in the same building and at the same time as Alanon. They have Teenagers, usually Alateens, babysit, and the parent(s) chip in to pay.
Then there are the others.
A guy brought his son, about seven or eight years old, to a meeting and let him run wild. He was finally asked to keep the kid under control or take him out.
Same group. A woman had a daughter about five or six years old. They sat at a back table with crayons and the child colored the whole meeting.
Same group: A woman brought her three teenagers for several weeks during the late summer, and they stayed outside. Then they began staying inside. And eventually they brought cookies and candy to sell the members so they could raise money for their class projects. A few members objected that it was turning into a PTA meeting.
My favorite, though, was the mother who nursed her infant during the meeting. I was sad when she started to bottle feed the baby.
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Postby Joe H » Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:48 pm

Johnny, I just sent you a PM.
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