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

Responses: 601


Updated September 22, 2012

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


To me the biggest hurdle to overcome was the secrets. My lifelong training was to suppress, deny and ignore. Stating "everyone loves me sober but hates me drunk" is a convenient excuse. Blame the alcohol not the alcoholic. I had to separate myself from my family members who "act out" each night. When I drove 600 miles to see them, one had locked the other out of the house and the ensuing madness caused the police to come. One had spray painted the other and said "that was fun" Never again. To me it is unbearably sad.
—Guest fish

Never had a childhood!

None of us born to an alcoholic parent ever were allowed a childhood. We were the parent, emotionally. We had to worry, worry and worry. While our friends worried about, I have no clue? We worried,worried and worried.
—Guest Little E

I keep saying 'This is me'

My father was alcoholic, a family friend was abusive; I am currently 28 and a smart, pretty, successful doctor. My personal life is another story, I seek out relationships with men that make me feel inadequate, that leave me lonely, that are cruel and cold. I am currently leaving a man that I have been with over a year who has OCD and spent the last year telling me he would rather be alone, that I talk too much, he cheated on me during the holidays, he refused to introduce me to friends or family, he refused affection, he controlled everything we did. So I left and found someone else, he then begged for me back, and I left a good man for this sick situation. I trap myself time and again even after I make the break. And one day, I woke up and said, this man is my father... so I left him, but I've been crying for days and feel rejected even though I was miserable. I keep feeling like there is something wrong with me and that's why he didn't care for me. I know it's not true but...
—Guest jenna

My own struggles with alcohol!

At the age of 50, my children almost raised, I am still dealing with the effects of my father's alcoholism And I am also dealing with my own problems with alcohol. Funny? Ironic? It happens to a majority of us. My children did not have my "childhood." They had a true childhood. They do not carry around the baggage of my childhood. I may not have saved myself, but at least I saved my children.

Son of a Single Mother

My mother was a very secretive and thus fake individual who managed to raise me and sister in sunny Laguna Beach, California. She never allowed me to live with my father, even when I started showing signs of rebellion. I took the downward path, entering the realm of drugs and alcohol. My mother never taught me how to feel, care, etc. She would ignore me when I would ask her to help with homework. She never had time to interact with us on her level, always into her own thing. Her extremes are what really scarred me. I am just now trying to fix my life, at age 20, and wow, it's a very hard thing to do. But I am living with my father, who is a rather practical fellow, and he is helping me a lot, with the assistance of a very good counselor.
—Guest David

growing up with an alcoholic

I haven't accepted the fact that I'm grown up yet (50 year old lady), but I'm in a place in my life with people who understand me, I feel, finally. So, I'm still growing and am very much aware of my feelings for once in my life, so surely it's never too late to "grow up."
—Guest darlene


When I talked to my mother about her quitting drinking her response was "I'm going to pickle myself". Then she went to the liquor store. I returned home hundreds of miles away (by choice) to my son, who I do not allow to be around her. That's the way it is.
—Guest fish

I hated my dad so much

I'm 33 now but I still remember being around 11 or 12 years old and watching my parents fight, opening the door into the kitchen and seeing my dad punching my mom in the back with his fist. I remember trying to go to sleep but I couldn't. I was scared what would happen when my dad came home everyday. I was always sweating so much and praying that he wouldn't beat my mom or make a big scene. Eeryday was a sheer terror for me, coming home from school and thinking what was going to happen when my dad gets home - is he going to be drunk, is he going to beat me up or beat up my mom? I hated him so much , I moved away from home when I was 19 years old. I moved all the way from Europe to Canada. Now I'm a total wreck , my father's alcoholism is still affecting me, the memories are still very painful and real. I drink every other day, always do everything for other people, have very low self esteem, bad anxiety, chewing my fingers, over eating, gambling addiction etc.
—Guest Peter

Mother trying to break the cycle

It changed the decision making process, and choices I feel now at 50 years old I am just beginning to decipher, or "figure" out. It seems I have spent my first 50 years with this circling me making it seem now; all I've been able to concentrate on is NOT letting this be my life and in turn so many "other" decisions I've made gave me just as much heart-ache and grief.
—Guest Darlene


I relate most closely to the guest who described her childhood with alcoholic Dad as emotional terrorism, although he was dysfunctional with his work as well. He ran his business from the house, so all the times that he was drunk or "sick" I was required to take the calls and lie for him. He constantly ranted about how he wished he'd never had kids, and hoped that I "got it back double" in our lives. Teenage years were a nightmare. Couldn't dare have friends over whether he was drunk or sober. He was way more mean sober. Always felt I was hiding dark secrets. At 50, I still feel that way about myself. By some strength, however, even as a single parent, my children are all well adjusted, happy people. Me? I've been living with my alcoholic spouse for eight years, afraid to leave. What's with me? I know better!
—Guest get it, but still not really

Love is not a victim

Every alcoholic has some reason for being one. We can blame our grandparents, parents, spouse, society etc. Love is getting an alcoholic to admit their problem and helping them. Enabling them is not the answer. I do hold my parents accountable for their actions. This is the only way to keep them from dying of alcoholism. Love is truth. My parents are not wonderful. They are abusive alcoholics. They know I will help them if they choose to become sober. Stop the cycle of abuse. Love is truth.
—Guest fish

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

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