I was going to comment on this last year, but didn't. I have children; I was highly emotional and "reading into" the article because of my own experiences and what I imagine my daughters' to have been. Something about that description of going to the casino to fetch your father (at grandmother's bidding - and I am assuming "paternal") ... how you "didn't consider it much of a hardship". Something about the way your mother was merely "mentioned" ... and how, as she "had left us by that time" ... made it clear that she was responsible for her actions, though your father, irresponsible as he was, is said to be "lovable rogue".

It touches too close to home for me; my own daughters nearly lost me completely, all thanks to a gambling addiction (and as I now see it, preventable ignorance on the part of "professionals" ... like court awarding him custody, etc., etc). My ex-husband terrorized me for a time, so I left. I gave him the divorce he wanted; later my daughters were told I "abandoned" the family. Even I forgot the truth; fortunately I still have the divorce petition he drew up as part of threat and manipulations, dated three months before I filed.

I was hardly allowed to see my children for several years. Not according to law, but according to the dictates of my ex-husband. I did not have funds for an attorney and my pleas to the court were ignored. I became more assertive and insisted on seeing our daughters; I was taken to court, more than once, to "restrict and supervise" my parenting time. Turns out, these actions were taken to protect the dollars he received for our children. I've gone through the books, now ... and learned that our daughters (and I) supported him, although none of us were aware. There was NO way he could have gone on the trips, gambled away the dollars.

I finally won the right to see my children when my ex-husband didn't show up for the hearing ... which he had filed for, insisting that I was abusive and a harm to our children. I wasn't permitted to visit my children for several more months ... and my 10 year old daughter informed me, during one of our phone calls, that she was scared to spend time with me. Her (paternal) grandmother had told her that I was going to kill her and her sister ... and she believed it. I changed the subject to more appropriate subjects ...

... and I ended up back in the marriage when I learned that I would probably face court over and over again as my children grew up, if I insisted on being part of their lives. I'd gotten an attorney, who'd told me that I'd almost certainly never effect a custody change and I should "get along" with him (which meant, doing what he "wanted").

It was only after my ex (for the third time) instigated divorce proceedings again, that I learned of his "problems" with gambling. I also learned, shortly after the hearing was held, that the reason he hadn't been in court that day years before ... was because he had been in a casino ... out of state ... despite his "fears" for our children. Had I known that then ...

My children are young adults now. My youngest had her credit destroyed even before she was on her own. Her father terrified her out of the house, as he had me years before, in order to protect "his" interests. He also, intentionally and maliciously, destroyed my finances. He wanted a divorce, but he demanded I get out of the house when he dictated. When I did not, he made it clear that he would destroy me ... and he has. The fallout to our children doesn't matter; it's hurt me some but I can't imagine what they've gone through ... to know that we weren't cared about, other than as a source of funds and positive PR. However, statistically speaking, it's unlikely that I will recover economically from the financial destruction he's wreaked.

I can't help but wonder at all the details behind the silence, when you write so briefly on your mother. I can't imagine others going through anything like what I (and my children) have, but I am convinced "I'm not alone". Yet there are NO real resources or supports for the family members of the problem gambler, nor any real empathy (or so it seems). There are no protections ... the destruction my ex-husband wreaked was completely preventable, but the attorney I hired and the court remains ignorant ... while we continue to deal with the problems and compounded consequences of "someone else's gambling problem".

Gambling can ONLY be "harmless fun" when it isn't hurting anyone. Unfortunately, a gambling problem is easily hidden, for years. State governments, which have vested interests in legalized gambling, are not interested (my opinion, based in experience) in hearing from those affected by "second-hand" gambling. Professionals licensed or authorized by state government are not being educated to recognize or appropriately respond to problem gambling. Like those bitten by the addiction, it seems they are willing to hide from the truth ... no matter what the costs are to those to whom they owe a fiduciary interest, those who are trusted to be acting for our common best interests.

Maybe most people can gamble without developing a problem; the fact that the truth of lives like mine can be ignored and discounted ... and destroyed, despite my doing nothing to warrant it ... tells me there is something wrong with gambling, in general, as long as the destruction it does wreak is kept hidden ... and the industry throws a few dry bones out to emphasize how much it truly does care about "the problem" (gamblers).