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Tony Öhberg


Picture: The Home of Fixers

Picture: The Home of Fixers

The door slams behind a man standing in the dark hallway. Joey, 7, drops the play train on the cold playmat of the living room.

“I want pizza!” the man at the door, Joey’s father, slurs while trying to find the light switch.

“You goddamn drunk!” screams Joey’s mother from the kitchen. “We already ate hours ago. Warm your own goddamn pizza.”

The father flicks on the lights and steps forward but falls flat on his face. The dim light illuminates his ass, which is revealed above the sagging pants – a perfect image for the “workman’s smile,” the smiling butt crack.

But Joey’s mother isn’t smiling. She grabs her boy by the hand and tucks him in the bed.

Joey is breathing heavily.

This is a glimpse into the life of some Finnish children living with alcohol-drinking parents, where fighting, name-calling and sleepless nights are common disturbances.

23 percent of the adults interviewed for a survey conducted by the A-Clinic Foundation of alcohol use in the childhood home, said that they had suffered from adults’ drinking. Half of those who had suffered also experienced physical, rough-handed behavior between the parents and toward the children.

76 percent of the victims suffered from shame, which according to A-Clinic, makes it harder to seek professional help or start hobbies. 62 percent of the sufferers were bothered by a low self-esteem, and an equal percent had low hopes for the future.

However, according to research, even one adult can help a child to survive a difficult childhood. Those who suffered from their parents’ drinking were more likely to seek safety from a trustworthy adult than children of those families where alcohol didn’t cause problems. “A safe adult could be anyone. Every adult can be the “safe guy” for the children of the neighborhood,” said Janne Takala, a development coordinator at the A-clinic Foundation, in a bulletin.

The majority of the children who didn’t suffer from their parents’ alcohol use (74 percent) grew up in a home where their parents showed affection, the children were tended in all situations and the atmosphere was good while the parents relaxed in front of the glass.

The survey was conducted by Taloustutkimus Oy by the request of the A-Clinic Foundation. 1,038 adults in the age of 18 to 65 participated in the survey. The A-Clinic Foundation is a non-governmental organization and service provider.