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Readers Respond: How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?

Responses: 597


Updated September 22, 2012

I am growing up with it.

My father is a drunk. He and my mother got a divorce in 2010. He has called me fat, weak, a wimp, etc. I'm 14, and this has all greatly affected me. I think to myself how blind I was about this fact when I was younger, and as I look back, I can now see the truth. I thought he was being silly when he actually was drunk. He ruined my best friends family Fourth of July party, by getting angry at some fireworks, and firing them at things and driving over other fireworks. He usually gets angry and cries about the divorce when he is drunk. But my mother divorced him because he needed help. He now will try to turn to my sister to get info on my mothers current relationship. He may take the fact that my mother takes us away when he is drunk, and tell it to court. My mother is trying to get an important job now, and our my mother and I and my sister will be forced to move because we won't be able to afford our home. I am feeling scared and sad. I wish my father could quit drinking.
—Guest David


I grew up with an alcoholic father. I am 24 years old now and have been attending Al Anon meetings for almost a year now. My father no longer drinks; however, the behavior is still very much active in my dysfunctional family. I never knew my family was dysfunctional until I reached my twenties. I only remember bad memories from my childhood. About how dad wouldn't come home from the bar until I was in bed. I would cry myself to sleep because I could hear my mom calling him at the bar telling him to come home and crying. I hated to hear her crying and to see her in pain. I remember spending a lot of nights playing outside or in my room by myself. It was hard for me to make friends and once I did, I felt like I could never let them go because for the first time, I finally felt loved. I hated my self for so long, took care of others but now I am taking care of me and starting to love myself by accepting God in my life and by forgiving myself and my parents.
—Guest Erica

Alcoholic Mother

Growing up with an alcoholic has affected me in many ways, good and bad. I am now 36 years old and my mother passed away 15 years ago, but the effects will be ever-lasting. I have trouble trusting intimate partners, I choose partners who are not emotionally available, who drink too much or abuse other drugs and I am extremely critical of myself. On the flip side, I decided long ago that I was not going to become addicted to any substances and I have kept that promise to myself. I have formed some amazing, life-long friendships, I completed a Master's degree and I have a good paying, fulfilling job and career. I am driven, hard working and enthusiastic about everything I choose to be a part of.
—Guest Kirsten

I Hate Who I Am

My alcoholic father and his enabler my mother taught me to hate myself. I have therefore isolated myself from family and deal with nagging shame. I married a workaholic. None of these people cared a lick about me except for what I could do for them. I am 61 years old and am only now realizing why I have felt like a weirdo all my life. I don't know why those two people decided to have children, because it would have been better had they not done so. Once when I was about eight years old, maybe younger, I went to town with my dad. He had to get something from the hardware store I think. Well, on the way home he pulled to the curb opened the car door and walked away. I remember hiding in the space under the dash forever until he returned. He opened the door and yelled at me for being stupid and weird hiding like that. Yep, that pretty much summed up the parenting that raised me. My husband was no better. Now I am finally alone and maybe can garner some peace with myself.
—Guest Judy61

Can't stand alcoholics!

I absolutely hated growing with with an alcoholic parent. My entire side of my mother's family are alcoholics. My mother had been drinking since she was 13 years old and has been drinking for nearly 40 years. I grew up not having a mother who I could depend on or trust. She was incredibly abusive and even attempted to kill me many times. She conveniently forgets all of the abuse I had to endure for 16 years. I am 26 now, and have a daughter of my own. It's incredibly difficult to manage the relationship I have with her. Due to lack of trust and her drug abuse I cannot let her see my daughter. She is incredibly child-like, inappropriate, petty and goes to the bottle for all of her answers. I just keep my distance and let time take its course. Prioritizing my family and seek support for being an ACoA are first. She can live the dream of being a worthless drunk, and I choose to make better choices than to repeat a cycle of dysfunction.
—Guest Nicole

Alcoholic Dad

My dad was an alcoholic from the time he was 20 to the time he was 48. He got married very young and had a lot of kids and felt trapped by everything around him. I guess the alcohol made him feel better, and honestly, from what I can remember, in the beginning he was kind of fun while he was drunk. He would play games with us and tell us funny stories. But after a while things changed, he started being really irritable when he wasn't drinking and when he did drink, he was like a zombie. He lost his job and once my mother stopped giving him money to buy liquor, he turned to crime to get his money. He would get arrested often and my mother would always bail him out. When I was about 14 he turned to crack as well and then my mother got scared because he was so violent and so involved in crime that he would get deported. She moved us all out of the house, and then my father really spiraled out of control. Eventually he ended up in prison for 2 years and finally got his life together.
—Guest anonymous

Ashamed of Alcoholic Father

My dad has been an alcoholic all of my life, but I never figured it out until after he got a DUI when I was 16. That's when everything came out, and so much made sense. It all seemed so normal to me until I realized that it wasn't. I recently found out he sexually abused two of my younger sisters, and I feel very guilty and ashamed. I feel guilty that I had no idea it was ever going on, and ashamed that he did that to them, all the while preaching to to his seven children that you should not control how many children you have, that God will provide everything you need, that you will go to hell if you have sex before marriage or if you live in sin, basically that anything sexual is a sin....and yet he sexually abused my sisters. He has since been kicked out of the house and lives in a half-way house. I keep it a secret that he lives here, very few people know, including my in-laws. I am so embarrassed and ashamed of him and the person that he has been all along.
—Guest Anon

What Mum?

I grew up with an alcoholic mother, she now has 4 children with three different men, all of which have been either taken away, fostered or adopted away from the family because of her drinking and violent alcoholic boyfriends. Finally now she has a lovely husband and is in the up, however she still drinks. I just CANNOT understand how she is able to even look at alcohol after the amount of children she has 'lost' because of it. I hate my mother but I want a Mum so badly. It is only since I turned 25 that I realised how much my mother's drinking has affected me, I am: Perfectionist, overly responsible, unable to bond with other females, find it hard accepting compliments, low self esteem, never aware of my own accomplishments, unable to fully let go in my relationship (with the most amazing man who I know is the one for me), I feel lost like something is missing, I cannot accept myself unless I am perfect, I have a negative view on the world and I am ready to change my life and move on!
—Guest Kellyc180

Both parents are drunks

My father was the nicest guy but couldn't kick the habit and I watched him die when I was 19. For a long time I wished he'd die because I was so mad he wasn't around or reliable. He tried to sober up through treatment several times unsuccessful. All the mixed emotions flooded out and I realized I needed to move on. My mother though drinks daily even in the morning and refuses to admit she has a problem, when confronted she just stops talking to me. As a child I didn't have a choice but as an adult I try to keep my distance but still long for a relationship with at least one parent. It'll never be what I want so I just need to preserve my sanity and not deal with her drunken ugly pathetic life or it'll ruin mine.
—Guest Nmg30

its simply a choice

Im 25 and my mother died from alcohol abuse a year ago in april 2011. She drank my whole life, apart from 4 sober years after almost dying from liver problems when i was 18. It was nice to know who my mother was sober, and i had so much time for her then. My childhood is like everybody elses but i never felt troubled until she died. Its problems im having making a normal life that brought me here to realize im typical of a ACOA. I thought i was ok. I dont drink. Im afraid of having kids. Im career driven, but never get anywhere. I have so much love but bolt at the first sign of rejection or what i percieve as rejection. I find it hard to believe in myself. But im a positive person and strive everyday to be better than mum. Sometimes i wonder if that will be my downfall, as in the end.. the independant mentality mum had only led her to more pain, and death by the bottle.
—Guest ali in vodkaland

Can't move on

I am turning 30 next month and I haven't seen my alcoholic mother in 7 years, yet somehow my past with her continues to haunt me. I am new to the ACA community and have wondered for so many years why exactly I felt so miserable even when things were going right for me. Once I started to read the ACA literature it all started to make sense. For once in a really long time, I felt like I wasn't totally out of mind...or worse, alone. Three years ago I lost everything -my job, my home, the life I had built for myself,through a progressive (and aggessive) addiction to Xanax, alcohol, self-harm, and self-hatred. After I had worked so hard to get through college, get a job I was proud of, and friends that I adored-- I had a mental break, crashed my car and found myself 10 hours away from the life I loved-- back in my miserable childhood home, where it had all began. I am still trying to pick up the pieces. And still trying to come to terms with being the only child of an abusive alcoholic.

My Dad

My dad drinks very much. Before 3-4 years he was drinking in front of us, but now he is hiding. He makes huge problems when drinks. Now we must change our house, because he got in trouble with our neighbourhoods. I'm 16.. I have a sister. she's 15. Do you thing that this with my dad can affect my live when I grow up?
—Guest bojaaaa


Fear, my main issue with living with my alcoholic Mum was the fact that I didn't understand how severe and dangerous the environment I was brought up in happened to be. I took fists, kicks, cold weather and sleeping in a bath all as 'normal'. I've found that often alcoholics are unable to see the positives in life, which happens to be their children. I hated the time spent with Mum, just experiencing about the nights I spent without food and a warm house sends shivers up my spine. I'm currently 15 years old, really lean and dedicated to life. It just so happens that now living with my Dad I am able to fire the past and dreadful emotions and aim in the opposite direction. I find that although Mum meant a heck of a lot to me, life wasn't a bed of roses but I always found a way of hiding the facts that my life wasn't the one a young girl should be living! I'm thankful for the support I've received from my school and am now able to continue in my dreams path line! Don't be afraid to speak!
—Guest Emma Fulham

Gut wrenching fear and guilt

Guilt - that I was not enough,that her beautiful family,home and life were not enough to stop Mum drinking. Guilt - That somehow my behaviour made her drink even though it mattered not whether I was good or bad, she would still drink. Guilt - Maybe I could have gone more to make her stop even though I sometimes begged her on bended knees, left home at 17 in the hope that with me out of the way she would be happier and stop. Guilt - That my Mum died 2 years ago today and I wasn't there in her final moments,that she died alone without any of her family to tell her it was okay. Fear - That maybe I too would become an alcoholic and go on to be the worst kind of parent. Fear - Every day I came home from School she would be drunk and start ranting at me& attack me verbally and sometimes physically. Fear - that it would never stop, that this was the only life any of us would ever have. Fear - that it would kill her & there was nothing I could do to stop her. Sadly that happened - RIP Mum x
—Guest Emzzz


I was never physically abused. My father wasnt an alcoholic but my mother was. She would call me and my sister names and scream at us. We would hide in our rooms all the time. But what really got me is when my mom got cancer when i was 10 i always stood by her side, no matter how bad she treated me. Everyday after school i would walk up to see her. Help her in the bathroom, everything. But now, im 19, shes on dialysis 3 times a week and picking her drinking up back again. Im just thinking to myself, how could you do this to me? after all ive done? It makes me so angry. But after all of it, despite my low self esteem, thanks to my father being there and a great father at that. It just makes me want to fight for my future harder. I want to show that no matter how bad things can be, i can pull through. Show my dad that raising me and sheilding me was not a waste.
—Guest -MLS

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How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?

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