What Children of Addicts Want You to Know

Alicia Fanning, Staff writer and reporter

Best friends Baylie Fanning (’20) and Dani McCollum (’20) spend their mornings before classes together.

Some names in the following article have been changed in order to protect the identity and privacy of some individuals.

It is time to shed light upon a story cloaked in darkness.

There are students here who are children of addicts and alcoholics. These are the children that have felt pain, but are too afraid to show it. They fear how others will see them, or that they simply won’t understand their situation.

“I don’t want to be judged or pitied,” Meg (‘18) said.

“I don’t want people to know because they’ll look at me different,” Fiona (‘18) said.

“I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I don’t like people having to feel the feelings I already struggle with,” Jenny (‘18) said.

At a young age, many of them were forced to grow up too early, having to learn how to care for themselves and their parent(s) while they were intoxicated.

“I basically became a mom. My little brother called me mom for a couple months until we moved back in with my grandparents,” Dani McCollum said (‘20).

Balancing school work and home responsibilities is difficult for most people, but these students also have to pick up the responsibilities of their parent.

“I [don’t] have the time to do homework [sometimes] because I have to be Mom” Jenny (‘18) said. But she can’t tell teachers why her homework isn’t done because “[they] wouldn’t understand or they’d go easy on me.”

Fiona has to become a parent to the person that is supposed to be raising her “I do the chores [my mom] doesn’t want to do…[then when she drinks] I let her drink three until I start dumping them out.”

These stories are not often told because the scars left behind are painful to talk about; things most outsiders wouldn’t understand anyways because “people only know pain to the depth of experience,” Jenny (‘18) said.

Frank Stallons, math teacher, had an alcoholic father, witnessing night after night the horror of the effects drunkenness has on certain people.

“We want to look to our parents as role models,” Stallons said, but “I was ashamed, I internalized it, and I thought it was my fault.”

McCollum’s mom was clean for the first few years of her life, but then she turned to drugs, leaving Dani’s life changed forever.

“A mom’s bond with her child is supposed to be special. I had that bond for 6 years when my mom got clean, but then she went back,” McCollum (‘20) said.

Despite the heartache, these students have been shaped into people who know what pain is, and therefore are highly aware when others are suffering.

“I am personally glad for the kind of person it has made me and the unique perspective it has given me” Drew (‘18) said.

“I want other people to know that when somebody’s parents abandons them for drugs, it really hurts and usually our smiles are 75% fake but we just don’t want people to know what’s wrong because it’s personal,” McCollum (‘20) said.

This explains why “we can see through masks,” Jenny (‘18) said.

They are aware that no one can help them, except to make their school lives a more positive experience.

“Others can help simply by just knowing that everyone goes through their own battles,” Baylie Fanning (‘20) said.

“Being a good friend in general is probably the best thing you can do,” Drew (‘18) said.

Jenny (‘18) said that people should strive to be a kind, supportive person that is willing to give things up so others can have joy.

“Crappy childhood doesn’t mean a crappy adulthood,” Stallons said.