Children Of Alcoholic Parents

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What are some steps to helping children of alcoholic parents?

To help children of alcoholic parents, we should first understand how they feel and the problems they face. Their situation is often chaotic at best and perhaps abusive at worst. They are best helped through extending supportive understanding, love, and hope.

We know that alcoholism and/or drug use affects the whole family. However, a child often feels very helpless within this environment. Young children of alcoholics commonly believe they are alone in the situation with nowhere to turn. Children of alcoholics may develop some of the following patterns and beliefs:
  • They may become a “hero” child in the family that takes on the responsibility in making everything right, like a mini adult. This is often the role an oldest child might take on.
  • They might become a troublemaker. A child needs attention and this is a sure way to get it: be it at home, school, or eventually with the law. It is also a route taken by some when they do not know how to deal with intense anger over feeling helpless.
  • They may become a passive, quiet wallflower. Here again this could be the path chosen due to a feeling of helplessness. It’s a retreat from the chaos into quiet solitude.
  • They might develop the role of family clown. A child will attempt to make everyone laugh and be funny to smooth over the rough times, showing that everything can be okay.
This type of family dysfunction leaves a child with feelings of being unloved and perhaps unlovable. They may feel that they are to blame for the drinking, the chaos, and the unhappiness in their home. They may believe that they are abandoned by those who should love them the most. Many children of alcoholic parents believe that even God doesn’t love them or care for them.

To help these precious children, we can offer the following:
  • Tenderly open the door for the child to talk about his/her life and show that you will listen.
  • Open your home and invite the child in. This provides a stable environment and a place of refuge.
  • Encourage the child to search for someone that he/she can trust such as: a teacher, Sunday School teacher, or relative in a time of need.
  • Suggest resources for a child such as: a church youth group or after school programs.
  • Let the child know that they are loved. We can praise good qualities and remind him/her that they are never alone, because God is always with them.
  • Affirm to the child that he/she is not to blame. Explain how to love the parent but hate the alcohol. Tell the child that he/she cannot control or cure the drinking.
  • Pray for the child and teach him/her how to pray for the parent.


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