This is a guest post by a lovely lady Almany Parsons. She is from Florida and currently a stay home mom with her 2 sweet girls and teaches online for VIPKID. She has a great knowledge in Psychology so I thought why not use it for a good purpose.
Growing Up with an Alcoholic as a parent: I thought I was okay.
What is it like growing up with an alcoholic parent?
When you grow up with an alcoholic, you don’t always realize that this is not what it’s like for other children. You don’t realize that you’re being raised by an alcoholic and that it will impact you for the rest of your life. You don’t realize, that this is not “normal”.
I remember being shocked when I went to a friend’s house and they actually sat down together to eat, and the adults had sweet tea to drink instead of beer.
I remember my grandmother having to write a note to my 5th grade teachers, explaining that I was not able to finish my homework the night before because my mother had drunk herself into a drunken rage and we had to lock ourselves in the garage. That day, we watched movies in class. As a child, this was fun but as an adult, I look back and wonder if just maybe it had something to do with that note.
As I got older, so many people told me what a great job I was doing despite my mother. I had straight A’s and was on track to go to college – despite my mother. I had stayed out of trouble – despite my mother.
When older adults talk about me even now, it’s always “You’ve overcome so much. I’m so surprised you’ve achieved as much as you have even with all you’ve been through.”
They made it sound like I had survived my childhood and was thriving! They made it sound like I had not been affected by the toxic stress I was exposed to on a daily basis. They made it sound like I was okay. AND I BELIEVED THEM.
I graduated with honors. I went to college. I got married and had 2 beautiful daughters. We own our home and do not struggle financially. I do not struggle with mental illness or depression. I don’t do drugs. I’m not involved with the law.
I am not the stereotype of an addict’s child. So, I must be okay, right?
What happens to children raised by an alcoholic parent?
It wasn’t until I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree and taking a class called “Substance Abuse and Mental Health” that I realized, I was incredibly affected by my childhood. I had always taken so much pride in being successful through everything that had been thrown at me. But, suddenly I was learning that everything I struggled with was a direct result of growing up with my alcoholic mother.
Children raised by an alcoholic parent tend to display similar characteristics and personality traits later in adulthood. These may include:
Avoiding Conflict – Individuals raised by alcoholics often mistake assertiveness or forms of authority as aggressive and avoid any confrontation in general because of this. After being surrounded by this 24/7 as a child it is easy to come to a pro at avoiding conflict as an adult.
Fear of Losing Control – Growing up with an alcoholic can be a world of chaos and one way that an individual may cope is by controlling the few aspects of their lives that they are able to influence. This may be other people’s emotions or behaviors, their laundry or even the food that they eat. There is a constant fear that is they lose control, their lives could become even more chaotic.
Constant Approval Seeking – Spending an entire childhoodbeing sensitive to their alcoholic caregiver’s emotions often translates intobeing oversensitive to other’s emotions as well. This leads to fear that someone else may feeluncomfortable because of their own behaviors or image. The opinions of others are what shape theirself-esteem.
Difficulty Relaxing/Poor Coping Skills – It is difficult to let go of control and expose their non-perfect vision of themselves; especially when others are watching. Healthy coping skills are not modeled for childrenraised by an alcoholic and they will continue to use poor coping skills intoadulthood. This can lead to chronicstress and overreaction to change.
Low Self-Esteem – It is no secret that children of any addict typically harbor low self-esteem. This loops back to the need to seek constant approval and other’s opinions playing such a role on their self-image.
Difficulties with Intimacy – After being lied to and deceived by an alcoholic repeatedly throughout childhood, it can be difficult to trust another individual as many other healthy relationships may have. It is also difficult to let down the guard that has been put up to prevent disappointment.
Obsessive Behaviors – It is not uncommon for an individual to obsess over minor things in an attempt to distract themselves from the bigger things happening in their lives – this is especially true for adults who were raised by alcoholics.
Physical Illness – Stress can take a large toll on an individual’s body. This can cause long-term damage for children whoexperiencing this stress during the prime times of their development. Adults who were raised by alcoholiccaregivers also may lack positive coping skills and as a result use food,drugs, or other unhealthy ways to cope. This often leads to physical illness in adulthood.
Overreaction to Outside Changes – The desires to have control over their world in combination with unhealthy coping skills leads to overreaction to changes that they are not able to control.
That day in my “Substance Abuse and Mental Health” class, I realized that my entire childhood had shaped who I was. I was directly affected even though all this time I thought I wasn’t.
All of a sudden, it made sense that I was not able to decide to make a big purchase without talking it through with 5 different people and making sure they all agreed it was a good decision.
It made sense that hospitalization of a family member was something I could handle emotionally but the change in last minute plans could cause a panic attack.
It made sense that I obsessed over planning a dinner or what kind of car to buy and often struggled to make a final decision.
Instead of developing healthy coping skills and a strong sense of self – as an adult, I am learning the skills I need to overcome many of the anxieties that have become me.
I realized, that I was in fact largely impacted by my childhood and it was a part of who I was.
But that is okay; I am okay.
If you are a child of an alcoholic parent, what are some ways that you have been able to overcome the long-lasting effects of being raised by an addict?
My Point of View
I was in awe after reading this. Well, I would love to know your thoughts too, below in comment box.
Hope to see you soon. Till then Stay Safe and Take Care.
Hola Cheska says
I was raised with my alcoholic dad and believe me i wish I wasnt born in my family. As an adult my experience has been so hard to heal.
Addiction is very bad but not worse than our misunderstandings about addicts. Who would like to live with such bad habits, we need to help them for getting out from addiction.
That’s pretty deep but at the end of the day it sounds like you became someone with a high sense of self awareness and emotional intelligence.
Sarah Bailey says
I can imagine it is very hard to be raised by alcoholic parents, you would almost have to be the parents yourself in many ways. I am sure it has long-term effects as well on the child.
David Elliott says
Our parents affect us so much in so many different ways. And when you have an alcoholic parent it definitely inhibits us from making the kinds of connections and processing things through a normal parent would enable us to. We are always scared of what might happen and our security with love is broken in many ways. Definitely, things to think about here.
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Keshia Richmond says
Thanks for this great article. I’m sure it may benefit those with a similar upbringing
I had 3! Father who was an abusive alcoholic. My mother had some wise choices…
There was blood, bone breaking, even sexual abusing from my biological father. (from my birth to around 14 years old) I become a soft alcoholic when i was a teenager. I lived with my grandparents (my mum died when i was 9 years old after i saw her to bleeding out for 3 years because of an ugly illness) who were old by then and tired. I wasn’t drinking every day but every week 2-3 times. Sometimes to total blackout. I just didn’t want to feel all the betrayed feelings. I did my A-level with all A-s. In Uni my friends opened my eyes, they literally saved my life. I stopped drinking. My target was to find a partner who is not drinking, not even a glass of beer/day. I thought it’s how a normal family and a healthy relationship is based:) I had 3 kids with a none alcoholic man. For 10 years i was totally blind about him. Some of my friends said something about this relationship and i started to think. I didn’t want to be like my mum as go from one man to another and after back to the first or the third one. And i figured out my mum never made a real life for us just went by the wind. I figured out as my father’s had the same experience with their fathers. So i stood up and i broke the pattern. My ex is not bullying the kids and me anymore, my past is finally my past. I started my business so i had to overcome on all the confidence and big decision problems. And i can say I’m HAPPY:)
We have to understand that addictions affect the complete family not just the one doing it. It is a very hard way of living. I’m impressed with your strength.
Julie Plagens says
I grew up with alcoholic grandparents and parents. I was immediately drawn to this post. I can empathize with you. I had a lot of the same things happen. It is rotten to have to deal with the fall out but I am a better person for it.
I’ve heard this before. You think you are like everybody else. It hits you hard you realize other homes aren’t like yours.
Anshika | www.thefoodroot.com says
If alcohol are taken in right proportion it’s not bad but if someone makes it a habit it can be detrimental to health and also bad for the person’s family.
This is a very informative post. Thanks to the guest writer for sharing her story. It’s sad to see how alcoholic parents can affect their child’s life.
Yuli Armstrong says
Wow. it’s quite the eye opening experience when you realize why you are the way you are. what a great read.
Oh wow. I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have been like. I’m so grateful every day that the problems I’ve had with my parents are so minor compared to some of the things that people in the world have had to go through.
Dalene Ekirapa says
This is so sad but it really happens to a lot of people out here. I’ll agree that most children brought up by alcoholic parents tend to borrow some traits from them and even have very low self esteem. Too bad..
Ran | Travel & Lifestyle says
Thank you for this enlightening post! All kinds of addiction can be very hard to overcome and it does affect the people around the addicted person too. It’s sad but that’s all the more reason why we should come together to help those in need.
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Fiona Cambouropoulos says
All the points made seem so obvious when pointed out. Upbringing effects us all. Almany sounds amazing in the way she has handled everything from her past and not let it hold her back.
This brought me to tears. It is a beautifully written post. She should be so proud of herself. What an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing.
One of the most helpful programs I have participated in is ALANON. So many people struggle with the reality of being the adult child of an alcoholic. There is hope. There is healing.
Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women says
I was lucky in that neither of my parents were alcoholics but I certainly did know a couple of children that have been affected in this way. While I can’t imagine what this is like, I do admire you for coming to terms with your past and being able to write and share your story. This is something that is bound to benefit others in similar situations and is a way of letting them know they are not alone and there is a way forward.
Brit Strawbridge says
I can’t imagine going through this – you are definitely strong for getting through it, but that doesn’t take away the lasting marks it had on you. There were things that happened in my childhood that weren’t as bad, but still hugely affect me today. Thank you for sharing your story!
Evelyn Hernandez says
I was not raised by an alcoholic, but do have alcoholics in my family and it is really devastating.
Chantell - Adoration 4 Adventure says
Yeah! I guess very different, It will caused too much stress to the children and may affect when they grow up. It is very important that child must be guided during those difficult days..
It’s really sad how sometimes parents become the reason why children suffer. Once you become a parent, you have to always always think of your actions and how it might affect your kid.
Kita Roberts says
Thank you for sharing this. It would be so easy to hide it all away, but more people need to hear it.
Hannah Rotton says
This was so interesting and thought-provoking to read. While I haven’t had these experiences myself, I know friends who have, and speaking out about it and breaking the stigma surrounding it is so important.
Dayna Hoskin says
I am so sorry you had to go through such things! Addiction in any form is a horrible thing.
Thank you for sharing your insights. The effects of alcoholism are terrible, not only on the alcoholic but on their family and community as well.
That’s huge! More power to you..
Jasmine Hewitt says
i’ve had some family members turn into alcoholics, and i either give them limited access to my son, or none at all. it’s just not healthy for him and hopefully serves as a wake up to them.
I have family members that get drunk. I’ve never had to be around it. My aunt almost died from alcohol. Im so sorry you had to go through something like that. I don’t know what you went through first hand but I know from other people’s experiences that it must have been really bad.
Elizabeth O says
Glad that she overcome all of it no matter what and still reach her goals in life. This is not an easy situation. Nice message you’ve shared because I’ve learned a lot!
Hi Almany, i believe that you had a tough childhood but I believe that you overcame it and i also believe that you are a super woman. Thanks for sharing something so personal
Khushboo Motihar says
You have had a tough life. It is very brave of you to come and talk about this. It will inspire other people in similar situations that things will get better.
When I was growing up I had some neighbors where the mom was the only one who worked and the father would spend the days drinking and making a full of himself on the street. He would always beat the mother… they had about 6 kids. Only one of them managed to make something out of his life. The rest started to steal and the daughter got a baby when she was a teen. Shame…
Product Review Mom says
I was fortunate not to have alcoholic parents. Thanks for bringing awareness to this matter.
Mark Furniss says
What a great guest post article, this lady is very inspiring indeed.
Thanks for sharing.
Tonya Morris says
Wow…this was incredibly well-written and very eye-opening to read. I love that you included her perspective as a guest on your blog. I learned a lot about what growing up with alcoholic parents was like.
Ashley Rice says
No matter what something like that will affect you. Thank you for being so real and raw about this. 🙂
This is a fascinating window into how parents’ actions affect their kids the rest of their lives. It’s so great that she recognizes these impacts.
Clare Low says
It sounds like it must have been so hard growing up with a parent who was dependant on alcohol but I am glad you managed to pin point that the things you were feeling were the effects of that, it means you can work on them now!
Oh wow…this is so deep and disturbing in a way. There can be subtle signs that no one might notice but have a huge impact. Thanks for sharing
i can only imagine how difficult this must have been. Thank you for bravely sharing your experiences.
Keshia Richmond for Prom Guide says
I feel fortunate that I’ve never had to experience this yet happy for the awareness this article brings.
I ahve a friend who has been raised by her alcoholic parents. Growing up with her looks natural but deep inside I know how she has been struggling with her situation. She commits suicide due to the anxiety that the situation brings to her.
Thank you for being so open with your experience. It’s eye-opening to hear about situations like this. I feel like we shouldn’t kid be able to talk about it more openly to be more understanding & break stigmas.
It’s just frightening, when a child who grows up with a parent that has any form of addiction it does leave scars, maybe not real ones, but mental, like you said, but you have done an amazing job, you made a life for yourself, finishing school, finding a person you trust and love to have a family with, and if you are doing a good job in raising your two daughters then you really fought through it all, and didn’t let it shape you as a human being.
Our surroundings while growing up has really impacted us no matter how we deny it…. I have a cousin whose father was an alcoholic…. They suffered from those mentioned above…..
Fibi Drese says
If you have an alcoholic parent, this is not easy and also not good for the kid.
Explore The 6 says
Addiction is a terrible disease that affects the entire family, I can’t imagine what it was like growing up in a household
I don’t have that kind of experience, and can only imagine how incredibly difficult it was. Thanks for sharing your very personal story.
Hunny Bohra says
It was really intense & beautifully written. Sometimes we don’t realise what we have lost on the way to overcome bigger things.
Karen Monica says
A real eye opening guest post. It must have been very difficult as a child to be raised by alcoholic parents. It definitely effects the mental well-being of the child even later in life.
Bunmies Healthy Choices says
Am so sorry you had to go through all this, but happy you’re sharing this to help people.
Amber Myers says
I can’t even imagine. I bet this would be tough. I feel for the kid and would hope the parent would get help.
Sybil Copeland says
It is a shame how most people simply don’t understand how their actions impact another, especially a child. Being open and honest creates a sense of community and definitely helps with healing in the future. Kudos to you for sharing your story!
Addiction is a serious issua and should never be taken lightly no matter what its for it still affects the family either way. I am sorry you had to go through all this but you did come out stronger.
Daphne D Adams says
This spoke to me on so many levels, as a daughter of an alcoholic mother who has not comes to terms with this even though she was raised by an alcoholic father. All of this is so true!
Nicole GIlbert says
I grew up with a parent who is what I would call a functioning alcoholic. We dealt with so much but put on such a happy facade outside of our home.
Wow, this touched my heart. Its written so relating to so kids going through or dealing with parents as such. I wish this post was up on libraries and schools
Seriously, this is deep and insightful. It really makes me sad to think about the kids that are living in situations like this. With that being said, it’s good to be able to become the person you want to be!
Laura Dove says
I know far too much about alcoholism due to a close family member but to be raised by an alcoholic parent must have been so hard. I am so sorry for that.
I have never really thought about “children of alcoholic parents ” so this is a thought provoking and interesting piece for me
This is very interesting. I have never thought about the impact being raised by alcoholics would have on us as we age, glad you’re sharing this information.
Nina Nichols says
This pulled a string in my heart. It’s so sad that some kids did experience a life like this. Almost brought me to tears. Very touching story.
Gemma Bell says
This is so deep and insightful! It’s so hard for people who live in these situations but people never think of the long term effects that they have on people! A very eye opening guest post indeed!
I feel bad for children with alcoholic parents. There must be a permit/license for people who wants to be parents. LOL.
This is such very hard. Sometimes parents are the reason why their children grow up liberated. Addiction can destroy us 🙁
My heart goes out to you. It just goes to show, in spite of how your upbringing has effected you, you have accomplished so much. Your strength is admirable *hugs*
My husbands dad was an alcoholic. He came out pretty ok though! However he’s one of the lucky ones. So many kids aren’t as fortunate
Catherine Santiago Jose says
I am so speechless and proud when I read this article. I don’t have parents who are alcoholic but I can say that living with an alcoholic parent is so hard that you always need to adjust and pretend that you are always okay and I am happy that you really grow differently from what you’ve experienced.
Kaitlyn Knoll says
This is really insightful. My dad was an alcoholic but he left when I was a baby. I often wonder what impression he would have had on my life if he stayed in that state.
You are amazing for thriving! I hope your mother is okay and sought help! You are doing a great job for being present with your family despite your upbringing with an alcoholic. Thank you for sharing this post.
Fashion and Style Police says
Oh my this must have been hard to live and be happy in such an environment.
Erika Ramona says
This is a good read and also a great reminder for everyone. I would not know how much I would be heartbroken dealing with alcoholic parents as a child.
Rhian Westbury says
It must be tough when you’re a kid and not knowing what it and what isn’t normal. Even though it’s affected you, you should still feel so proud of what you’ve achieved x
love faith more says
Being alcoholic is not really good to any family members. But I feel that despite this situation you’ve grown up a good person and stronger one.
Bella at Dear Mummy Blog says
My mummy’s dad died of Alcoholism, so she can totally relate to this post – fear of losing control and not fully relaxing is what affects her the most 🙁
Rikki Ridgeway says
This post is both, heartbreaking to think that you had a childhood like this. But also, on the flip side, it is heartwarming that you now have the ability to cope with your childhood and move forward and be the person you want to be, and be better.
I was raised by an alcoholic parent, so yes I do know the impact. It affects us in so much more and for so much longer than anyone realizes.
In Asian culture, parents are always the role model of their kids. Having alcoholic parents not only ruin their childhood, its effect is long term. I have a friend, his dad is an alcoholic, growing up he got abused many times. Now that he is an alcoholic just like his dad. I feel like his dad has shaped him to behave this way.
Julie Verville says
Thank you for sharing as this information will likely help others!!
Wow, it’s quite astounding when it’s all laid out there and you see just the effects this sort of childhood can have. That is a lot to overcome for sure, and I imagine it would be a constant struggle. Thank you for sharing your journey for us to read, that’s very brave indeed.
How sad! No child should ever go through that. Alcoholism is a disease that not just affects the user but all around them.
Eboni Dixon says
This post is extremely brave. I think is a testament to the type of person/soul we are when growing up with an abusive parent and not finding ourselves down any dodgy paths later on in life. It means we surrounded ourselves with good friends who have helped shape us, as well as decent schooling from teachers.
Great observations, and great post!
Terri Steffes says
I don’t have this background, but I was raised by someone who was depressed. I’m finding that many of the attributes you describe sound like me.
I can totally relate. I can remember a day my mum was high, she was holding my hand so tight. As we proceed to cross the road. A car on an high spread ran towards us and all I remember was that she pushed me off the road. When I turned I saw here bounce very hard on the floor. The car hitted her and ran away I can just live above that event.
I had a rough childhood myself – my father was abusive and an alcoholic. Fortunately I don’t remember much about my early years. I was adopted by my maternal grandmother, but I’m sure that I still have issues that stem from those early years.
Kristina @ Spirit of the soul says
This has to have been a tough childhood. I had my own difficult childhood and it is refreshing to hear stories – like my own – of overcoming it and becoming something more than you were expected to be.
Kristine Nicole Alessandra says
Thank you for sharing your story. It has given me a deeper understanding of what is going on in a family dealing with alcohol addiction. I admire your strength and openness. This will help a lot of people who were in the same situation as you.
both my parents had alcohol addicted fathers: they don’t drink that much and are great parents to me and my brother. By the way, I perfectly see in this description both my mother and me. My fathers is not afraid of conflicts and tend to have a quite high self esteem. Well, for sure he over reacts in front of changes (they are both very scared by changes in general). It’s funny how I find myself in many of these traits: cognitive psychology says there are scars and wounds that cross entire generations.
It was such an informative read and an eye opening for all those who just don’t bother raising their kids in such environment. Its very rare to find such families living a happy life.
Doolittle Days says
This is really moving, thank you for sharing. It must be a huge challenge but it seems like you have overcome a lot.
Richard Kraemer says
Thank you for sharing, very informative.
I too am an adult child of an alcoholic. I can very much relate to this! On the outside, I seem very well put together, but I am affected by my upbringing everyday. I did not realize this until after becoming a mother and I am now addressing my past. This is a really great read and I appreciate you sharing.
Mike Williams says
I found this very difficult to read because I was brought up by an Alcoholic single parent. As I read through the signs/symptoms of being brought up by an Alcoholic, I thought – yup, yup, yup! I think alcohol is a very dangerous substance. I think there should be more done to educate the public on the damage addiction causes. Thank-you for writing about it.
Thank you for this! It is a very informative read!
Cassandra Rose says
Thank you for sharing your story, Almany. I’ve never been in this situation before but know people who have, and had no idea of just how bad it can get. The part about constantly seeking approval really broke my heart 🙁
Blair villanueva says
Thank you for sharing her genuine thoughts. Parenting styles varies and it is hard to judge.
Watching people just have a drink for fun can seem really strange. An addict will likely wonder what the point of just one or two is.
The article gives a deep insight into the mind of a child facing alcholic parents… behaviour of parents has a direct bearing on the mental state if the child..good that this lady has overcome all that and made her life..
MELANIE EDJOURIAN says
This is a really interesting guest post. I think that being brought up by parents with any form of addiction can damage people. I have a few of them myself yet neither of my parents are addicts.
Becca Talbot says
What a brutally honest guest post – thanks so much for sharing her story. Neither of my parents drink, so fortunately my surroundings were a little different when growing up. But I can definitely sympathise with her story x
Mental health and substance abuse issues are something I hold near and dear to my heart. These problems become a family disease. Everyone in the family begins to be affected by the disease of addiction. There is help out there for addicts and their families to start to heal from the traumas of the past and to be free from active addiction.
Dwight Alleyne says
It is unfortunate that you had to be raised under those circumstances. It definitely can help you become a stronger person as an adult once you are able to push through the struggles.
furtdso linopv says
I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂
Carole Levesque says
I recognize many of the traits in myself. I grew up with an alcoholic father, who would break things around the house that were precious to my mother. I especially hated holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.) as this seemed to be the worst times. Thank you for the insight I understand more why I am how I am…..