Friday, May 2, 2008

So my son has been gambling.

Not the son that I spoke to recently….that was the young one….who said that he has a gambling problem. That story is here.

The older one.

I found out a while back….that he was gambling. He won some money on the outcome of a ball game.

I was never really worried about this boy being compulsive….His younger brother, yes, definitely, but not him.

I have watched for signs.


I really don’t want him gambling.

They don’t know about me.

Looking back now, I cannot recall why, but I didn’t feel comfortable forbidding it…having the conversation maybe? Not sure…but…I mentioned it to his Father….and he took care of it.

No gambling allowed.

He mentioned it again this week. Gambling.

They flip quarters..and bet a dollar on heads/tails.

He lost $14 recently, he said.

I said ‘I cannot believe you are still doing that. Your father has said that you aren’t allowed to gamble.’

I was in the car, with both boys at the time.

They laughed….like I’m stupid (they truly believe that I am) and said ‘MOM…this isn’t GAMBLING…it’s BETTING!’

They weren’t kidding.

So they knew the sports thing wasn’t ok…but somehow thought this was?

I cleared that up for them.

They rolled eyes.

I’m stupid.

So….later…at home…I mention it to Dad.

*HE* clears it up for them.

Now I’m a bitch too! LOL

A rat.

Yeah well, that’s my job.


Yesterday….again…the three of us are in the car…and it comes up yet AGAIN…

My older son says “I wish I had a lot of money.”

He is 16. Most of his friends have jobs…after school….or at least are lining things up to work over the summer.

I say “Get a job.”

He says “I don’t want to work. I just want money.”

I laugh.

I say “Honey…*I* don’t want to work….I just want money…and DAD doesn’t want to work, he just wants money…and your Aunt X doesn’t want to work, she just wants money…and your Uncle X doesn’t want to work either” (all four of us work)….but…what I was really thinking about is…the line in the g.a. combo book that says “A desire to have all the good things in life without any great effort on their part seems the common character pattern of problem gamblers.”


He says…”Maybe I could flip quarters for a living.”

My younger son says “Didn’t you just lose $14 doing that?”

He said “Yeah, but, usually I win. The only reason that I lost $14 that day is because….I don’t want to lose….so when I’m losing, I keep betting and betting, trying to win it back. Usually, I do…but that day, it just kept getting worse.”

I said “They call that chasing.”

I explain to them….that it is a common sign of a gambling problem. Chasing one’s losses….and another common sign (which my OTHER son has shown signs of) is…not having the ability to stop…until there is no money left with which to gamble.

We talk a lot.

Mostly they listen.

I tell them that I am a compulsive gambler. The ‘real’ kind…like….I have been to gambler’s anonymous meetings.

I tell them that….when one is 14 and 16 years old….they can end up over their heads….but…the older they get…the more they will have to lose.

I tell them that people lose cars and houses……
I tell them about dopamine and how the brain reacts to risk…and that some people seem to be more susceptible to the effects of gambling.
I tell them that there seems to be an hereditary factor, not for gambling, but for ADDICTION….and that this IS an addiction (for me)…and that it’s progressive…the more one gambles (one who is ‘at risk’) it is likely that they will want to gamble more..and more…. And that it is a subconscious thing…how it creeps up on you…how….it happens to unsuspecting people….sweet little old ladies who like to go to the casino occasionally ‘for fun’ can easily end up addicted…through no real fault of their own….not even having made any ‘bad’ choices……it just slowly takes over.

They were listening.

Even tho they think I’m pretty stupid most of the time….more and more recently, they appear to be listening.

It’s like…both of them….could see the truth in what I was saying…they are aware of the feelings….

My older son admits….that he sometimes gambles when he doesn’t have ENOUGH money.



“Yes” he said “today I didn’t have enough lunch money, so I gambled to get more.”


I said….’baby….I don’t want you gambling….I will give you more money.” Funny….we have been careful to NOT give them much money…don’t want them walking around with money they don’t know what to do with…..or skipping lunch so they can buy alcohol, etc….that was a concern of my husbands.

‘How did you not have enough money to eat?’

He said…’I ate breakfast. When I eat breakfast, I don’t have enough money for lunch.’

He says that he doesn’t want any more money..because he will spend it…’No matter how much I have…I will spend it…I always do.’

“So you are a compulsive spender too?”

‘I don’t know.’

“I am.” I say.

We get back to the gambling conversation.
I tell him about internet gambling.
I tell him how common this is becoming..that gambling is prevalent in society and more and more ‘innocent’ people are becoming addicted and getting into deep financial trouble….
I tell him how common it is and bad it sucks to owe $50,000 to credit card companies due to gambling.
I say…’it’s one thing to owe $50,000 for that $50,000 car sitting in the driveway…it is quite another when you owe have to pay $50,000 and you don’t have $50,000 of STUFF….when you no longer have the funds to gamble yet you are having to work your ass off to pay back the DEBT’

He agreed.
That would suck.

I tell him that…more gambling addicts commit suicide than people from any other addiction…because…..

It is so hard to stop….and what we do doesn’t just affect us…..people gamble til their family has no money for food…and their home gets taken away…and their kids have to withdraw from their school because the tuition money is gone….and they cannot believe they’ve done these things… yet…they cannot stop.

He attends a Catholic school.
He says “a lot of the kids at my school are going to have a gambling problem.” He says….”so many kids gamble that…when they are making their daily announcements over the intercom, they say ‘Gambling is not allowed at school.”

I have always known that I would tell them ‘one day’.
I didn’t know when or how it would happen.
I didn’t think it would be so easy….so natural…..or so necessary.

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