The Danger That Alcoholic Parents Pose To Their Children
Alcoholics often function under the false belief that others are not negatively impacted by their drinking. The truth is that the actions of an alcoholic take a toll on the lives of all around them. This is especially true in terms of the effects of alcoholic parents on children who many times suffer in ways that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
The Devastating Effects Of Alcoholic Parents On Children
A sobering fact that puts into perspective the devastation of parental alcoholism on children is that many reported problems with adult children of alcoholics are identical to those identified by adults who have endured the trauma of childhoods filled with physical or sexual abuse.
Often the true impact of a child growing up in a home where parental alcoholism exists will not be realized until much later in life. The coping mechanisms and warped personality a child develops to manage life with a parent that is an alcoholic will follow him for a lifetime. And many negative emotions experienced throughout their childhoods will manifest themselves in adult versions of anger, depression, and substance abuse.
To the point: Individuals suffering from alcoholism that have children are very likely destroying these young lives before they have a chance to begin.
The following are a few of the effects of alcoholic parents on children and the ways that kids that grow up in an alcoholic household can suffer.
Inability To Establish A Sense Of Normalcy
When no childhood examples exist it is sometimes difficult for individuals to experience what most people would consider ‘normal’ family relationships. These individuals may find it hard to distinguish from good and bad role models and often times report that they never feel comfortable in family environments for fear of not knowing how one acts or speaks in these situations that are unfamiliar to them.
Children of alcoholics can sometimes feel inadequate and may shy away from social interaction or have difficulty establishing friendships. This may result in self-isolation.
Consumed With Ideas Of Self-Judgment
Many children that grow up in alcoholic households find it impossible to release themselves from negative self-judgments. Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and lack of self-worth all can all conspire to prevent positive thoughts pertaining to one’s self. And nothing the child of the alcoholic does seem to be enough to affect their tendency toward self-condemnation.
These constant negative thoughts can result in drastic consequences for the individual as it blinds them from the fact they do indeed possess the power to positively change their own lives.
Can Become Obsessed With Over Achievement And Responsibility
Many children born to parents that are alcoholic become quite accomplished, overachieving perfectionist. While outwardly the success they have attained may look like a good thing to others and in fact is good in some ways for themselves the truth is there are dangerous psychological factors at work.
Many times the children of alcoholics have endured much verbal abuse by way of harsh criticisms and unfair judgment from a drunken parent. The development of this super responsible individual was in all likelihood an attempt to avoid the hurtful feelings of a mean-spirited drunk that had often crushed a child’s ego and destroyed his or her sense of self-worth.
The adult child of the verbally abusive alcoholic that continues their pursuit of perfectionism is often doing so in a continued effort to mask the pain of the emotional damage that is still buried deep within them.
Increased Risk Of Developing Their Own Alcoholism
A major concern for the children of alcoholics is the possibility of one day themselves becoming alcoholics. The National Association For Children Of Alcoholics in a report states that individuals growing up with a parent that is an alcoholic is four times as likely to become an alcoholic as other children. Of course, there are other factors to be taken into account as well, but both the genetic and environmental factors of being raised by parents that are alcoholic seem to be powerful predictors.
Development Of Co-Dependent Patterns Of Behavior
Children of alcoholics can sometimes grow so accustomed to the dysfunctional environments of their youth that they seek to recreate these environments later in life. In these situations, individuals will exhibit choices in friends and sexual partners that are consistent with the chaos they experienced as children and will craft a life for themselves where their own personal happiness and sense of self-worth is based solely on the whims of another dysfunctional human being. This, by definition, is a co-dependent relationship.
Children growing up in alcoholic households often learn from an extremely young age that their own needs are inconsequential in comparison to the need to please a drunken parent. This creates a tendency in searching for love from equally difficult or abusive partners with or without the presence of alcohol.
However, it has been observed that daughters of alcoholic parents are much more likely to marry an alcoholic husband than is a woman who grew up in an alcohol-free household.
Violence And Risky Sexual Behavior
The homes of alcoholics are usually chaotic places where violence and verbal abuse can often occur. The effects of alcoholic parents on children growing up in these environments can lead the child to become emotionally crippled for life as a result of the trauma that can occur. This trauma is often processed and later manifests itself differently among the sexes.
Teenage boys that witness domestic violence perpetrated by a drunk parent often begin to exhibit traits of violence themselves. This can manifest itself by violence against siblings or pets, or fights at school or on the playground.
Teenage girls, on the other hand, might commit injurious acts to themselves such as cutting. It is important to note that the motive behind acts like this is not suicide but an attempt to relieve themselves of the emotional turmoil they feel as a result of depression, anxiety, or feelings of self-loathing. Often times, teenage girls will become sexually promiscuous in response to the same stimuli.
Getting Help as a Child of an Alcoholic
The potential for lifelong mental and emotional scars resulting from growing up with a parent that is an alcoholic can never be overstated.
Individuals suffering from alcoholism that have children in the home have all the more reason to seek help immediately. The negative effects of alcoholic parents on children, once realized, should be catalyst enough to seek the recovery that both the parent and child deserve.
Likewise, children that have the misfortune of growing up in an alcoholic household should be afforded the counseling and support they may need whether they have begun to exhibit the signs of mental and emotional distress or not.