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Children of Alcoholics Share Similar Characteristics

Posted in Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease that can run in the family. Interestingly enough, researchers are finding that there are commonalities among children of alcoholics. Because they have to treat their parents with kid gloves, children of alcoholics learn to cope with things differently than other children. They learn to put themselves second to keep peace in the family. In order to cope in a world of dysfunction, these children may also develop unhealthy attitudes and behaviors that are carried with them into adulthood and their whole life through.

Adult children of alcoholics have to fight to avoid facing the same pitfalls as their parents. Because of the abuse they face growing up, they are at higher risk for developing emotional problems than other children. Up to 70% will develop some sort of compulsive behavior as a result of the stress of growing up with an alcoholic parent. They face higher chances of ending up alcoholics themselves, overindulging in food, and even developing addictions to drugs other than alcohol.

Children of alcoholics tend to share similar characteristics based on their upbringing. They are inclined to be people pleasers – they learn to be submissive early on because they fear angering their parents and being rejected. These adult ‘children’ of alcoholics continue to seek out the approval of those they love because they never received it as youth. It is through this approval that they feel validated.

They often strive for perfection in all they do. The desire for perfection stems from the need for positive attention or avoidance of negative consequences from the alcoholic parent. This carries over into other relationships in their lives as well. Children of alcoholics are more likely to enter into unhealthy relationships with others because they are extremely loyal and hold onto relationships at all costs because they fear abandonment.

They are also usually followers. They have a hard time asserting themselves and believing that their opinions matter. For this reason, they also suffer from issues of self-worth and tend to be overly critical of themselves.

Finally, children of alcoholics struggle emotionally. They frequently feel anxious and stressed. Healthy communication and problem solving skills are often missing from alcoholic households. Children growing up in this sort of environment learn to suppress their feelings instead of deal with them. They feel pressure to be the responsible ones in the absence of a healthy parental lead.

Education and communication are critical to stopping the cycle of abuse. Adult Children of Alcoholics, or ACA, is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in that it offers a 12 step process of recovery for children of alcoholics. By encouraging its members to talk openly and honestly about their pasts, it helps open the door to a brighter future. ACA’s faith based initiatives also help its members heal spiritually by sharing the intrinsic value and worth they hold in God’s eyes.