Adult children of alcoholics carry many negative characteristics from childhood that they may not be aware of. It is important to identify these issues to lead a productive life. The adult child of an alcoholic has a 50% chance of becoming an alcoholic, so figuring out what drives us is even more important.
One of the biggest problems is that the adult child rarely knows what normal is. I do reality checks with my husband often because I know my view of normal is skewed. Adult children judge themselves constantly and harshly. We need to work hard on being good to ourselves. Fear of intimacy especially if there was sexual abuse, can wreak havoc on relationships with spouses as well as family and friends.
Change is another huge issue for the adult child of an alcoholic. We would rather things stayed the same even if what is going on is bad. Chaos reined supreme when we were children in an alcoholic home. As a young adult I thrived in making chaos around me because it was what I was used to growing up. As an older adult I no longer want chaos but it has taken years to feel that way.
Adult children of alcoholics are either super responsible or completely irresponsible. I have taken the road of being super responsible rarely allowing myself to have fun. I am often shocked when I discover something I am doing is fun. As adult children we take ourselves and our lives too seriously. I find it difficult to leave my house until all the housework is done and I look presentable. If I do go out before those things are done, I am anxious until I get home.
Seeking the approval of others or “people pleasing” is another characteristic of the adult child of an alcoholic. We will never please everybody and it is important to come to terms with that. I have a few family members that I have strived my whole life to get along with. Recently I realized they will never be who I want them to be and it has freed me.
These are some of the characteristics of the adult child of an alcoholic. These things can make us emotionally sick and at times will lead us down the road of substance abuse ourselves. It can affect all of our relationships as well as our quality of life. There are meetings called Al-anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics which can really help identify how our parent’s alcoholism has affected us. The message we took from our childhood is that we aren’t worth anything so getting help is futile. We need to replace this message with; we are definitely worth it.