How have other people navigated their kids finding out about a relative's problem with alcohol?
My uncle has a long term girlfriend with a very significant problem with alcohol (and past issues with drug use). They are around our kids a decent amount, especially because we have traveled with them in the last couple of years. She drinks throughout the day, a lot and every day, but it's usually from an opaque water bottle, so it's not super obvious. She also (and this is BONKERS) takes open containers of alcohol in the car (again, in a water bottle or other cup. not like a beer bottle) while my uncle is driving. I know that's not illegal in all states, but it's definitely illegal where we live.
Sometimes by the evening she slurs her words a bit but she typically doesn't appear too impaired. When we travel she tends to "nap" in the afternoon. But sometimes she does get emotional, loud, or mildly argumentative by the evenings. If she was ever visibly drunk or doing anything upsetting, I would certainly remove the kids from the situation. Early on in their relationship, DH and I wanted to set the boundary that she couldn't be around the kids if she was drinking, but that became apparent over time that if we want to see my uncle, she will be there and drinking. I have a really small family, so I really want to maintain my relationship with him.
We have a 10 year old who seems, so far, mostly unaware of what's going on. She also had a recent family tragedy, so the couple of times on a trip that she was being a bit erratic, I just reminded him that she is having a hard time right now. But I feel like at some point he should know. Right?? I'm not sure what my reasoning is though. She's very nice to him, so I don't want him to feel like he can't be around her, but she has a history of being very erratic and so I don't want him to get too attached or feel like she's always a safe person to be around. Also, my uncle is absolutely in denial/feels like he has to protect and take care of her. And while I know she knows she has a problem, she also seems extremely unaware of the severity. On a trip last year, she suggested that my husband and I leave the kids with her for a couple of hours so that we could do some sightseeing with my uncle after we watched her drink literally from 10am until 4. Thoughts? Suggestions? It just feels like a bananas situation to navigate, and I feel lucky that I haven't had to deal with anything like this before.