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Children's Bookshelf

November 03, 1985|KRISTIANA GREGORY

WHEN YOUR PARENT DRINKS TOO MUCH: A BOOK FOR TEENAGERS by Eric Ryerson (Facts On File: $12.95; 125 pp.). As a boy, Ryerson (a pseudonym) was afraid to bring friends home because he didn't know if his mother would welcome them, curse them, or be passed out on the couch. Living with an alcoholic parent was a nightmare, he writes, a situation ready to destroy families. Children are the most helpless victims unless they can be counseled and shown they're not to blame.

It's doubtful that teens will want to shell out $12.95 for what looks like another textbook and, at times, sounds like one. But if they do flip through these pages, they'll find wonderful support and facts about alcoholism, and they'll meet other kids with the same problems. Most of all, they'll learn healthy ways to cope.

Ryerson drills that alcoholism is a disease, not just a bum habit, then repeats in gentle and various ways what he calls the "three C's": "You didn't cause your parent's drinking. You can't control it. And you can't cure it."

Out of love, children become obsessed with the drinker until they lose track of their inner selves, and personal growth sometimes stops altogether. "Worrying isn't an obligation--we do have a choice." Hiding bottles just prolongs the problem, and feeling guilty is useless. After all, "love does not require us to be miserable."

How to handle crises is discussed, as are places to go for help, particularly Alateen, the worldwide network for youth who live with an alcoholic. It's a sorry thought that "millions" of kids in this country might need to read a book like this, but lucky for them, there are people like Ryerson eager to help.

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