Adult Children of Alcoholics

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Adult Children of Alcoholics - Home life
Many adult children of alcoholics have grown-up dealing with their parents alcoholism. It is wise to study the effects of this lifestyle on children to see how we can repair the damage. An unhappy childhood can create long-lasting effects that carry into adulthood.

  • Secrecy - When you grow up in the home of alcoholic parents, you tend to think that your household is the only one that has the problems that go along with alcoholism.

  • Personality adjustments - Some children become troublemakers or family clowns. Other children may become peacemakers or very congenial, adjusting to any and all changes without fuss. Others become responsible, miniature adults. All of these behavioral traits are coping skills that the child develops as a means of coping with living in an alcoholic home.

  • Children raised in an alcoholic home often suffer from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. My mother was a loving kind woman while sober, but angry, argumentative, and verbally abusive when she was deeply under the influence of alcohol.

  • Blame shifting - Some parents blame their children for their drinking and children may accept blame where none is warranted. Life in an alcoholic home is often filled with disappointments, lies, and numerous broken promises. This causes children not to trust, to learn poor communications skills, and to have trouble developing intimacy. They often have anxiety due to a lack of control over events, fears related to the uncertainties in their life, and guilt related to their sense of responsibility toward their parents’ activities.

Adult Children of Alcoholics – Behavior Issues
The coping behaviors of childhood often carry into the lives of adult children of alcoholics. The family clown may continue to be quite entertaining, but irresponsible. The troublemaker may continue to have legal and financial problems. The passive person may continue to have relationship problems. The super responsible person may grow into an adult, demanding perfection of him or herself and those around them. They may have great difficulty in relating to anything less than perfection. This is the group I fell into. I felt unloved, unlovable, a failure, and incompetent, because I could never measure up to the expectations. Those were unrealistic expectations that I had set for myself and felt that others had set for me. Many adult children of alcoholics experience low self-esteem, a difficult time enjoying life, too serious of an attitude about him or herself, a need to constantly seek the approval of others, and trying to find affirmation that they are okay as a person.

Adult Children of Alcoholics – Finding Help
Learn about alcoholism and its effects on family members.

  • Find support. Talk to others about your feelings and experiences to help you become aware of bad behavioral habits and coping patterns.
  • Learn to build on the things you do well. For many years, I struggled with self-esteem issues and people-pleasing behaviors. I prayed that God would help me learn to differentiate between true humility, pride, and proper self-worth. I knew that I needed to learn about God’s love to heal my deepest hurts and instill within me an appropriate sense of self-worth. I began to pray that God would really allow me to understand His love and that I would trust in His complete acceptance of me.

    God indeed was faithful to me and began to reveal His love. As I studied, I realized that the depth of God’s love for me has been revealed by His actions; Christ’s death on the cross as my substitute. “This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (1 John 4:9-10). Christ’s blood completely paid for our sins and delivers us continually from guilt. We are deeply loved, entirely forgiven (yesterday, today, and tomorrow), totally pleasing, and wholly accepted through the blood of Christ by God in our gift of salvation.

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