As an adult who grew up in a home with an alcoholic parent, what do I need to know about the potential impact of my past upon my present life? What are the biggest challenges faced by adult children of alcoholics? Can you direct me to some resources that provide help and guidance in this area?
Many children of alcoholics grow up to have difficulty expressing their feelings. As a matter of pure survival, they learn to insulate themselves against the pain of their environment by "stuffing" emotions like anger and sadness. They may also have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility derived from the necessity of caring for a drunken parent and emotionally supporting other members of the family during their most formative years. Such character traits may be useful and admirable in their original setting, but they can often become liabilities later in life, especially in a marriage relationship.
Some adult children of alcoholics may develop problems relating to authority figures. Interestingly, this can lead to widely contrasting outcomes, leading some to adopt a rebellious attitude while others become "people pleasers," unable to assert themselves even when they are clearly being taken advantage of. They may also be terribly afraid of abandonment, and as a result will do whatever it takes to hold on to a relationship, even when they are being abused.
For these and a number of other complicated reasons, adult children of alcoholics may end up marrying alcoholics or even becoming alcoholics themselves. Even if they don't drink, they may have extreme "Type A" personalities and display workaholic tendencies.
Naturally, this very broad and general description doesn't fit every person who grows up in an alcoholic home. Each individual is different and every situation is unique. The good news is that there is a great deal of help available for people in your situation. Many larger churches offer support and recovery groups for adult children of alcoholics.
One-on-one counseling with a licensed Christian counselor can also be extremely helpful for many adult children of alcoholics. Call us. Our Counseling staff would be happy to discuss this option with you and provide you with a list of qualified therapist in your area. They can also help you get moving in this direction by providing a brief one-time consultation over the phone.
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The Healing Journey for Adult Children of Alcoholics