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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 give myself permission to be mad about my horrible childhood. I take away the power from my abusive parents. That's all.
—Guest fish

Still want to please momma and daddy

I grew up a middle child in a home where my father was an alcoholic and my mother the enabler. Now that I am happily married, I feel I need to seek approval from both of them. They are both so unhappy and angry all the time. If I don't do things their way-- they get pissed. They still are married 35 years but still cant stand each other. My dad still comes home late and drunk every night. My mom brags that she is stronger now, she is just more bitter. I know I have my own family now but I am still stuck to my old one. I know it isn't healthy for me. I love them and want to be close to them. But I can't stand all the negativity, walking on eggshells all the time, also the feeling of never being good enough for them, especially my mother! I feel very guilty even saying any of this especially because they have helped me enough financially, my mother always gives me the guilt trip about it. My father is willing to help, he just wants me to finish school. This is so hard!
—Guest happy momma---sad daughter

Self destruction

To Jenna: I can relate with your story. I had an alcoholic father who raped my sister, my sister is now an alcoholic. My mother was a great woman although suffered great depression. I go into each relationship thinking I can make this person a better person. I lose myself, I give everything to this person and am miserable most of the time. I seek their approval to make me whole. After every relationship that ends and most end very badly.. I spend hours researching co- dependency and narcissism.. which one am I? It's got to be my fault. I am a 48 year old successful sales exec with an outward appearance of confidence and determination, but on the inside I feel empty and alone.
—Guest Jan

Why can't dad help?

Growing up my parents fought so much. I always knew they had their own problems. Too busy to worry about me and my siblings. After I had my own child, I began to wonder why didn't my dad help us? My mom was the problem, it seemed. I figured out that my dad was the problem too. He blamed everything on my mom. If she was the only problem, why didn't he take us away? My heart goes out to the college student who escaped and now worries about her dad and her sister. Why should that burden be on a young woman? Why shouldn't the dad help the child?I ran away when I was 14 and lived with my grandmother. Came back after one year. Why? So I could parent my brothers. I knew I made their lives better if only to cook, clean their clothes etc. Even looking back on it now, it seems complicated somehow. I raised my child away from them, so what's my problem now? My siblings are all in prison with low self-esteem. Apparently, a sister is not a substitute for a parent. It's still confusing.
—Guest fish

Help in understanding.

I am not an alcoholic, I do not drink, but my husband's grandnephew is the child of one. His grandparents and I could not understand why he would be good and then suddenly start and denying it it when it was obvious. Thank you for helping us to understand and now we may be able to help him.
—Guest Grania McCann

Still Struggling

Now that I'm in college, I've been able to finally get myself as far away from my family for almost three years now. Unfortunately, I'm realizing that I can't run away from the problem. I'm realizing that the conflicts with friends and my boyfriend are a result of the behavior that I've learned from home. I'm constantly searching to fix the problems of those around me. I'm consumed with pleasing the people around me and become depressed when I feel that someone doesn't like me or is unhappy with me. I feel guilty for getting out of the house while my dad and sister are stuck at home with my mom and I'm constantly worrying about how they are being affected by having to live with the problem every day. I'm hoping I'll be able to learn from other people's experiences but I'm worried that I've become this person that after 20 years now, will never be able to change.
—Guest Alli

Ok as adult

The human spirit is amazing. I can turn a setback into a positive . I suspect we turned out okay in spite of our childhoods, not because of it. That is called courage. It doesn't make our childhoods okay, it just makes it far away.
—Guest fish


I've picked up the habit of not wanting to disappoint people. I hate being wrong or I hate it when I let people down. Being blamed for all of her problems has made me very needy, I guess you could say. I want affection and will go out of my way to please anyone. I'm still young and I've only been out of her house for a year but I'm hoping that some how my mind set will change. I'm hoping that in time what I am will be enough. Not for everyone else but for myself. As a child I was so mad that she blamed me but she was my mother so I wanted that comfort you are supposed to get. I want to let her go but I can't find it in myself to shed it all. Because I've seen the mother she can be when she was sober, I just need to give up on it.
—Guest Arin

What is normal?

Growing up I felt like it was normal that my mom woke up at 6 and started drinking. I thought it was normal for her to pass out cold on the couch in the middle of the day. No one told me different. I didn't know it wasn't normal until I turned 16. When I realized the amount of alcohol she consumed in a day was what you saw in movies. Now I watch in complete shock as she continues to drink as she always has...worried she won't be there to see me get married or have kids. Watching her fade away and feeling overwhelming fear of losing my mother.
—Guest Niki

Sharing helps

When I first read these posts, they brought back memories (as I blogged) and my nightmares returned after about 10 years of not having them. However, I have nothing to hide so I came back here. After a few months of reading these, I can say it helps to "get it out". Big Surprise to BuddyT who started this site. He knew that would happen. Thank you. In the words of a certain TV Doctor "this is a soft place to fall". God bless us all to have open eyes and go forward Every aspect of our lives will not be wonderful. But practice makes improvement.
—Guest fish

Very large alcoholic family

I was born close to the bottom of a very large family, my father was the alcoholic and my mother the enabler. Image was everything, still is. I was extremely unhappy growing up. Found solace in my brother's room where we would talk about music and literature and paintings and just laugh together. I used to sneak in there after bedtime so no one knew I was there. I hated being in the house and only came back to eat and sleep from about the age of 7 or 8 because I wanted to free myself from the atmosphere of ever present fear and what if thought process. I never knew what was around the corner. Whether my dad would be sober or drunk. How happy I used to feel when I saw my dad down the hall in a morning sober and how much pain I felt when he got dressed and cleaned up only to go and drink himself stupid again. I am 35 now and still never feel good enough, worthy of love, capable of loving. The healing process is worth it though. Can't be any worse than never looking for help.
—Guest dolphin

Childhood was sad

Growing up with alcoholic parent(s) is sad. That's why I appreciate this website. It is an opportunity to unburden ourselves. It doesn't mean my life is now hopeless, but if your loved one is still an alcoholic it has some aspects of sadness until the day they recover. The first half of my life was sad too. Until I realized they were making life bad and it doesn't have to be that way. This particular subject will always be colored by sadness for those who will not quit drinking and for the people who against all odds truly still love them. Keep sharing everyone someone else may need to hear your story. God bless us all and many thanks as always to BuddyT who realizes sharing is healing.
—Guest fish

A Little Hope, please

I lived the sad stories similar to the postings here. I went through Al-Anon, some counseling. I learned it wasn't my fault: as a child, I narcissistically believed if my father was out of control, it was my fault. A lot of the traits of children of alcoholics I still have, but I see them more as a plus these days. I dote on my wife, and have a happy and affectionate marriage. I believe I'm uniquely able to appreciate the fundamentals such as love for my wife. It is better than I've ever imagined. The first half of my life sucked, now it feels like heaven. Best wishes to you all.
—Guest Bill

Still recovering

As the adult child of an alcoholic father, and the oldest I went through a lot as a child. The biggest issue was the fact that I have constantly be quiet approval addictive, seeking the approval of others for love. Although I have figured it all out, this issues effect your life for ever. After going to Al-Anon for 11 years I have realized that love is not earned, you don't have to do anything to get it especially forfeit yourself for anyone. When you lose yourself for another person, you lose your identity for someone that is sick, and that is not gonna change no matter what you do. You become who they want you to be, eventually losing yourself, and happiness that you deserve. Therefore I will no longer become mentally, and emotionally exhausted for anyone, for any reason. Never losing hope in my Higer Power, who is God, as I understand him.. Lose youreself for no one but God, he's the only one that will love you forever, just the way you are, with no conditons. Peace Amigos
—Guest SamaritanaArmada


Both my parents drink, sometimes days at a time. I and my two brothers would have to fend for ourselves from childhood to adulthood. We all have self esteem problems among other things. Childhood was not a happy time.
—Guest Sandara

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

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