Skip to main content

Characteristics Of Adult Children Of Alcoholics

Adapted from Adult Children of Alcoholics
By Janet G. Woititz, Ed.D., 1987.


1) We guess at what normal behavior is. Because of our environment, we had no role models for normalcy, so we acted the way we saw other people act, people we thought were normal, and continue this performance into our adult lives.

2) We have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end; we procrastinate. Procrastination in the usual sense is the result of laziness. Adult children of alcoholics have never been taught how to solve a problem in systematic, manageable amounts. It was always all or nothing. Consequently, we don't have adult life skills.
3) We lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. Lies, specifically lies of denial, were used to benefit the alcoholics and para alcoholics of our homes.

4) We judge ourselves without mercy. Since there is no way for us to meet the unattainable standards of perfection we have internalized from childhood, we are always falling short of the mark we have set for ourselves. If we are responsible for some positive outcome we dismiss it by saying, "Oh, that was easy," and so on. This is often confused with humility but is actually poor self-esteem. We should keep our poor self-esteem in mind when taking the Fourth and Fifth steps.

5) We have difficulty having fun. For most of us having fun was just a childhood fantasy. We were always imprisoned by the anger and hostility of alcoholism, even if physically removed from the alcoholic; the disease was already part of us.


6) We take ourselves very seriously. The normal spontaneity of childhood was squashed so many years ago by the pressure to be adult. Living with one or more addicts forced us to be on guard constantly. Seriousness was the only option. Now we can't have fun.

7) We have difficulty with intimate relationships. For most of us the only reference of intimate relationships was that of our parents. Our inconsistent parent child relationships caused us to feel an overwhelming fear of abandonment. We are left too inexperienced and fearful to let ourselves get close to anyone.


8) We overreact to changes over which we have no control. As young children the addicts life was inflicted on us as part of our environment. Our only recourse was to try to take control totally. Now any change which we are unaware of or have no control over leaves us feeling desperate and vulnerable.

9) We constantly seek approval and affirmation. The love we received as children was very erratic. The affirmations we didn't get on a day to day basis as children, we interpreted as negative, leaving us with low self-images. If someone likes us, gives us affirmation and accepts us, we usually judge them worthless. Our low self images thrive on this.

10) Because of our secretive childhood sufferings, we thought that things were always better in the "house next door." NOBODY could possibly feel the same way as we did. Therefore, we felt unique, not a part of the group, and always looking in through an imaginary barrier.

11) We are super responsible or super irresponsible. So much of our lives are all or nothing when trying to please our parents we did more and more and more; some of us realized early in our childhood, that there simply was no pleasing them, so we did nothing. We people please until we burn out for two basic reasons; one, because we don't have a realistic sense of our own capabilities or, two because if we say NO, we're afraid someone might find out how inadequate we feel and no longer like us.

12) We are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. Since starting a relationship is so difficult and frightening, when we do so we expect it to be permanent. This loyalty is usually caused by fear of abandonment. At home we always "hung in there" enabling the addict and denying the disease.

13) We are impulsive. As children our impulsiveness was usually denied or covered up by our parents. We seldom suffered the consequences for impulsiveness, leaving us with no deterrent, and we allow our impulsive behavior to continue in our adult lives.




Comments

Substance abuse is no laughing matter. More importantly than how it affects its victim, it also affects the people around them most especially the little ones who look up to them. It's difficult enough to channel this energy for drinking for some other distraction, but more so difficult with how it is to follow up on the ones influenced by these people.
Thank you for the comment! There is no question that, even if the "adult child" doesn't drink, the effects of being raised by an alcoholic are felt for generations. The unhealthy cycle must be broken.

Popular posts from this blog

The Young Boy and the Rattlesnake

By Stephen C. Schultz (Editors note: This is a story used in a Wilderness Treatment Program for Young Adults . Many come to this program having struggled with substance abuse and interacting with unsavory friends.)   Many years ago there was a young Native American who lived in the very land you are residing in. He decided to seek wisdom by journeying to the top of Indian Peak. As he approached the base of the mountain he came across a rattlesnake that slithered beside him. The snake coiled as if to strike and the young boy moved back quickly in fear of being struck by the snake’s deadly venom. At that instant the snake spoke to the boy saying, “Don’t be afraid of me, I mean you no harm. I come to you to ask a favor. I see that you are about to traverse to the top of Indian Peak and was hoping that you may be willing to place me in your satchel so that I don’t have to make the long journey alone.” The young boy surprised by the snake’s request quickly responded b

An Open Letter to Parents Researching RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." Having been raised in Oregon, I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage year’s steelhead fishing the coastal waters, climbing the Middle Sister in the Cascade Mountain Range, drifting the McKenzie River and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  I have mentioned to friends, family and colleagues on many occasions;   “From a therapeutic standpoint, there is no better place to have a student’s issues manifested quickly than in a wilderness setting.” The question then becomes, “Why do therapeutic issues rise to the surface in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program like RedCliff Ascent ?” Throughout the years of teenage development, most teens spend a lot of time with friends. These friends think the same, dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music and sometimes get into the same types of trouble. Some teens also develop patterns of communication and manipulation

Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Free Family Resources

 By Stephen C. Schultz Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Is there a common theme? Aloft Transitions Home for Young Adults This is simply a complimentary resource guide for parents of teens and young adults who struggle with ADHD, Anxiety and Gaming. ADHD:   • Russell Barkley,  Taking Charge of ADHD • Hallowell & Ratey,  Delivered from Distraction • Harvey Parker,  The ADD Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers, & Kids • Bradley & Giedd,  Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your  Mind  • Gurian, Michael,  The Minds of Boys Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and  Life, 2005. • Hanna, Mohab,  Making the Connection: A Parents’ Guide to Medication in AD/HD • www.CHADD.org  (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) • www.help4adhd.org • www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics) • www.aacap.org (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) Young Adult caring for new baby calf Anxiety: The following websites