The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has rarely spoken of her childhood other than to say her family life was "dysfunctional", but in an interview with Michael Parkinson, on BBC1, she revealed how it had affected her.
"I have not talked about it that much because even though ... I don't have any trouble with it, I don't think my family and my mum should be subjected to it," she said.
But she said that when her mother learnt she would be on the show, she said it was fine for her daughter to discuss it.
"It was difficult to bring people home because you weren't sure if he would be drunk or sober," she said. "I used to go to my bedroom and do my homework because it got me out of the washing up and having to deal with the problem."
Ms Mowlam grew up in Coventry where her late father, Frank, was a postal worker. Her mother, Tina, was a telephonist and Labour activist who helped shape her daughter's political views.
She said she wanted to talk about her upbringing in more detail "when I have more time.
"I think it is important for kids growing up in alcoholic families to see if I can do this and get through it, then so can they."
Parkinson also asked what it had been like to talk to murderers during the negotiations for the Northern Ireland peace process. "It is not easy and the emotions you feel are very mixed and particularly after having met some of these people, then to meet the families of the victims," said Ms Mowlam.Reuse content