Most alcoholics believe that they are affecting their lives solely. However, this is not the case, especially for those who have children. These vulnerable beings are affected in the highest degree and it may reflect on their interactions and behavior. Sometimes these effects last a lifetime. Most of the characteristics that are described by adult children who have been raised by alcoholic parents are the same ones reported by children who have undergone sexual and physical abuse at the hands of their parents. Additionally, these characteristics have been reported by:
- Children who have been adopted
- Children living in foster homes
- Children who are raised by parents who have compulsive behavior including overeating or gambling
- Children who have parents suffering from chronic illnesses
- Children who have been brought up by parents who are excessively religious and strict
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the United States estimates that in every five adults, there is one who has gone through such an experience in their childhood. This shows how normal his situation has been made to appear. Parents are not aware that such an environment can influence and shape their future of their children forever. Mothers who drink when pregnant influence the lives of their newborns and put them at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome. This syndrome is carried on into their adulthood. Most of these children develop substance abuse traits when they become adults.
The aim of this read is to show the impact you have on your children if you overindulge in alcohol consumption. These effects run through adulthood. Below are some of the ways in which alcohol might affect your children, as they become adults.
Effects of Parental Alcoholism on Children
- They have no idea what a normal life feels like: A child who has been exposed to alcohol consumption from birth may have no recollection of a normal life in terms of family relationships. They may have to speculate a normal family relationship as they go by. This makes them unable to differentiate between bad and good role models making their lives doomed from the start. Additionally, some children have trouble growing up around families because they are uncertain about how a normal family relationship is supposed to be set up. This affects their sexual relationships when they become adults, as they do not know how to act or what to say within this dynamic. These children often feel different from the rest of the society and always feel like they are not good enough. This is because they are aware that the basic societal relationship in their home is not normal and not as self-sufficient as those around them. This makes it hard for them to make friends and interact in a social setting. They isolate themselves from making their childhood memories weird and uncomfortable.
- Merciless self-condemnation: Children who are exposed to such environments at a tender age tend to judge themselves severely. They o not feel enough and are likely to suffer from low self-esteem self-worth, and even depression. They develop feelings of inadequacy as they feel like they do not deserve to have anything in life. This goes on to their adult life where they tend to downplay their dreams and settle for average lives because they fail to give themselves a break from judging. This then affects the entire generation since the negative thoughts will be projected to their children.
- Taking themselves seriously: Criticism becomes the order of the day. A child who has been bred in an alcohol consumption environment tends to be its own worst critic. This often leads to anxiety and depression. One way of pinpointing such a sign is placing them in a social setting. They fail to lighten up and tend to seclude themselves from the rest of the people. One way of analyzing this behavior is by taking into account the fact that they saw very many social gatherings ruined by their alcoholic parent(s). This could be a vacation or a holiday.
- Have issues when it comes sot intimacy: For one to have a successful intimate relationship, they have to be able to find a partner who fulfils their needs, open to emotional attachment, and interdependent. Since they have harbored self-esteem and trust issues from their childhood, they may not be able to let their guard down. They will always put their partner on the spot for a speculation of dishonesty or cheating. They really do struggle with romantic relationships and hence do not feel the need to get close to other people in general. This makes them serial daters or heartbreakers. Some may even choose to remain single for fear of emotional attachment and disappointment.
- Trust issues: After being exposed to a childhood of secrets, lying, and denial, trust-issues are a sure result. All those broken promises and disappointments culminate into a pit of distrust that infects all their relationships. They fail to trust their friends, family members, spouses, and even children. This affects all the aspects of their relationships including business-wise making them become sole proprietors because they are unable to bring anyone else on board.
- Abandonment issues: Since their parents failed to be available physically and emotionally during their development stage, they tend to be horrified of abandonment when they become adults. This makes them hold onto relationships that do to add value. They keep going back to abusive relationships at their own peril. This is because they do not want to be left alone. They keep dating people out of loneliness rather than love. This plays into their anger, distrust, and self-loathing, which could be projected to their future generations.
- Fear of angry people: If a child witnessed his or her parent doing outrageous violent things when they got angry, they will develop a fear of angry people. This is common for people who were abused because of such anger. They will spend their lives avoiding any violent confrontation, or conflict. This seems like a good attribute but these children fail to stand up for themselves. When they encounter a bully at school or in the workplace, they are more likely to let bygones be bygones. They will not stand up for themselves, making an intimidating person have the utmost power over them. This pays into their distrust of people and makes them loath interacting with outspoken people. Since they spend their lives cowering, they tend to lose job opportunities and get lower positions at work because of this.
- Seeking constant approval: Since they judge themselves very harshly, they tend to seek approval from the society. This makes them not have an opinion about anything, making them go with the opinion of the majority. It makes them susceptible to peer pressure. Peer pressure is a situation where a person feels like they are pushed to commit to rush decisions because of the influence of the people within their age group. They feel as though if they do not follow through with a rush decision, then their peers are going to disregard them. Most of the time, in a situation where people follow through with these decisions they know that their decisions have great consequences but they go ahead with them anyway.
- This people-pleasing behavior crushes their spirit since their actions are always at the mercy of other people. They begin fearing criticism and struggle with turning it into positive reinforcement.
- They become responsible: These children become perfectionists. They strive to be better than their childhood forms and tend to become workaholics and perfectionists as adults. They fear failure and thus make sure that they achieve maximum success every time and on every project. This strains their relationships as they have no room for failure and shun people who seem not to have the same approach to life as they do. However, this is not the case for all these children. Some of them take a different direction. This direction entails becoming very irresponsible. They tend to make mistakes just because they do not feel like they can do anything right. When you combine all the distrust, anger, negative self-worth, criticism, and depression, such a person is bound to be on the wrong side of the law when they become adults.
- Development of drug abuse traits: A child who has grown up seeing their parent or both their parents engaging in substance and alcohol abuse tends to view this as normal. They end up indulging in it at their adolescents and this affects their health, development, and school life. Children who engage in alcohol abuse at a tender age tend to portray traits such as lack of consistency in poor grades, trouble reading and comprehending schoolwork, dropping out, and even poor concentration. Most of these children tend to influence others through peer pressure to take part in alcohol abuse. Some of these children suffer from sexual and physical abuse and this makes them perceive this type of abuse as normal. This makes them susceptible to commit them when they get older, for example, gender-based violence in their marriages, defiling rape, and molestation. All these are effects of young children indulging in alcohol intake at a young age.
- Guilt: Children are observant beings. They tend to observe what is in their environment and form conclusions and opinions on this. Thus, if a child makes a mistake and heir parent seeks the help of their bottle to help calm their nerves, the child will likely perceive that he or she is the cause of their parent(s) drinking. This makes them feel guilty and responsible for it. Even though this is not the case, the child’s brain will make assumptions and stick to it all their lives. This creates an uncomfortable strain in the family dynamic.
- Anxiety: Children are really overlooked in the family dynamic; when parents ‘make decisions they rarely picture or seek the opinion of their children. This should be the first step in addressing alcoholism in the family. When a child is constantly exposed to negative effects of alcoholism, they tend to develop anxiety because they are not aware of what their parent(s) will do. Your child will become anxious because he or she has no idea if you will harm yourself, others or them when you take alcohol. This makes them develop a parent-like responsibility since they feel the need to care for their parents and protect them or the rest of their family members from harm.
- Embarrassment: The children feel like they cannot talk to anyone or bring anyone around their parents. This strains their friendships as they grow up since they miss enjoying the fun of sleepovers. They are also trying to prevent other people from knowing about their family’s shortcomings. This is because they realize that their parents are going to engage in embarrassing behavior and thus they do not want to suffer the embarrassment of their friends experiencing it too. This makes them secretive and weird. Feelings of embarrassment become heightened when their parents are publicly intoxicated.
- Confusion or lack of a routine: As children develop, they need to have a defined routine to help them cope with their growing needs. However, children who come from families that have an alcoholism background tend to have issues with sticking to a defined routine. On one occasion their parent(s) could be extremely stable and happy and on that day they sleep early and have all their meals prepared on time. However, on other days they tend to have fewer meals or have them later. This depends on the severity of their alcoholism. The parent could also have mood swings that change rapidly and confuse the child. This child might grow up emotionally unstable since they might think that it is normal to behave in such a manner. The child may not be able to comprehend that their parent or guardian has a drinking problem. This is very confusing for the young developing mind.
- Anger: The child might develop feelings of anger towards their parents or themselves depending on how they approach the situation. The parent may have missed some of the child’s important landmark events in their early life because of their drinking problem. This may stir up feelings of neglect and resentment and cause the child to hate the alcoholic parent(s). Alternatively, if the child makes a mistake and the parent turns to alcohol to calm their nerves, the child may develop feelings of resentment towards themselves. They will view themselves as the cause of his or her parent(s) is drinking. This may make the child act out and even cause the suicide of it escalates. It will obviously affect their school performance, interactions, and the possibility of success because their minds are preoccupied with their family issues.
- Depression: This is common with alcoholic parents who only have one child. When the parent (s) is drinking, the child will feel very isolated and lonely. To make it worse, if the parent (s) abuses the child, this child is at a very high risk of developing severe depression, which has the possibility of leading to suicide. However, this does not mean that families with many children may not experience this. For a child who is very close to their parents, he or she is bound to pull away from the rest of the family when this parent is drunk. This stems from their feelings of no one understanding their pain and thoughts, which makes them retreat and keep their thoughts to themselves. Take note that these thoughts are negative.
- Issues with forming non-sexual close relationships: The child in question has lived through a series of letdowns. They are used to being disappointed with their parent(s). They will develop an opinion that humans are not reliable beings. This will make them have very few friends and strive never to depend on these friends. The child will be hesitant to form relationships with other people and are more likely to live alone or in isolated areas.
- Impulsive traits: Children bred by alcoholics are more emotionally driven in comparison to other children who have no experience with alcoholism. This means that they are likely to act out or on impulse when faced with a situation. This personality trait is also known as disinhibition and it entails emotions such as impulsivity, aggressiveness, and seeking sensation. These traits are very common with people who are developing alcohol addiction, thus it is quite possible for your child to channel your addiction and end up being an addict in the future.
Are you an alcoholic? Do you have kids? Have you ever thought about the effect that your alcoholism has on your children? Please try to find help as soon as possible. If they have already been exposed to the effects of your alcoholism, please try to get help for them as well. This will help them cope before they are adults. In fact, one of the modes of healing should include spending more time with your children. You will be able to focus on them and reignite the bond to help them develop in a healthier and stable environment. Additionally, this might motivate you to be better and keep focusing on your detoxification. Your children deserve a positive environment for their development.
On the other hand, if you are a child who has been exposed to the effects of alcoholism, you should seek help and support. Know that you are not alone and that there are people who are ready to help get the treatment and healing that you deserve. Forgiving and trying to restructure your life is going to be hard, but it is necessary.
Signs in Children of Alcoholism At Home
- Suicidal behavior and thoughts
- Risky behavior and actions
- Aggression towards other people
- Abuse of alcohol and other substances
- Frequent physical health complaints such as headaches and stomach upsets or hunger
- Delinquent behavior
- Withdrawal from their peers
- Loner behavior
- Low self-esteem
- Failure in school
The most common symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
- Vomiting or nausea
- Trembling or twitching
- Heart pulsating faster than normal. This is because alcohol dehydrates the body. It reduces the water level in the blood. This makes it harder for the heart to pump the blood.
The following are some of the recommended ways you can use to treat alcoholism:
- You can start out by calling an intervention that is filled with people who the person considers his or her close friends. Then proceed to explain to the person that all the people in attendance are worried and concerned about the health of this person.
- Alternatively, you could seek the aid of the internet and get an alcohol self-assessment platform. The person can then take the test themselves to help them come to the realization that they are addicts.
- Seek the help of a professional. The professional might decide to take up the case of helping your loved one. Alternatively, this specialist might suggest the approach and professional that you might want to apply or consult. The professional might help your affected loved one know and learn about anonymous alcoholic groups. This will help the alcoholic come to terms with their current situation. Such mutual help groups promote accountability and support from other people who have recovered and others who are in the process of recovering.
- You could seek the aid of a doctor or medical practitioner to help you diagnose alcoholism. The doctor will make sure that within a minimum period of a year the person has exhibited at least three of the known alcoholic traits.
- Detoxification is another option. It entails the person completely stopping their drinking for their body to adjust to their new lifestyle of no alcohol. Take note that during this time the person experiences severe withdrawal symptoms. This is supplemented by ongoing treatment.
Additionally, you could incorporate an addiction treatment plan into your detoxification plan. A good example of an addiction treatment plan is a medication-assisted treatment. This treatment involves the use of buprenorphine and methadone to help the addicted person cope with the side effects and helps them reduce their urge of indulging in the drugs.