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

Responses: 596


Updated September 22, 2012

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

Love thy parent

Both of my parents grew up with alcoholic fathers, surely I don't blame them for so many of their actions. My father who is an alcoholic and mother is a victim of abuse and are two wonderful people who have damaged their children so much. I am just trying to make a new relationship with a wonderful person work with so much baggage.
—Guest rain


My Mom was always emotionally and mentally impossible to deal with, but occasionally she drank a lot and was just plain crazy. She said she would like to be an alcoholic, but it made her too sick. She also said she would commit suicide, but that she didn't have the nerve. I answered all 20 questions "yes" on this site and wonder if being the child of a mentally ill person is like being the child of an alcoholic. Neither is able to parent. She was completely self absorbed and verbally abusive. My body wasn't battered, but my brain was. I like what one person said about it all being so "absurd and bizarre." That puts it in it's place and not on the child.


The alcoholic parent has altered my potential exponentially. It wasn't until last weekend at 36 years old that I realized that this upbringing is not normal, or that the thought that others have it worse, how can you complain about this? Tthis is not okay!
—Guest rain

An Alcoholic's Child

I did not have the mother/daughter relationship, rather when we got along I acted more the part of the parent and my mother the child. I am able to easily identify others who suffer from an addiction and protect my children from the influence, even my mother was unable to interact with my children unless it was a 'good' day. My mother passed three years ago today from liver disease at the age of 46, it is still hard knowing that I was never able to have that 'bond' which so many others I know have with their mother. I feel as though I was denied a primal right. Still to this day I wonder just what it is that drove my mother to her demise. I am cautious, hard working, anxious about what could go wrong in all situations, driven to succeed, criticize myself when things do not go right and go through periods of sadness. I couldn't say how it has 'changed' me because I do not know the person I would have been had my mother been well.
—Guest Sandra

Grew up fast

I find it interesting that your site states "children who grew up with alcoholic never grew up". My experience was the complete opposite. I grew up immediately. I never had a childhood. I do, however, feel that my alcoholic parents never grew up. They did not accept responsibility for their actions. They blamed each other for ruining their lives. My mother was the drama queen, raging obvious alcoholic. Took me a long time to realize that my cold, head-in-the-TV Father was one too. Alcoholics have many faces. A fortune cookie said "society prepares the crime..the criminal commits it". We all have sickness, death and hardships in our lives. By the Grace of God I admit my shortcomings. Thank you for this website BuddyT. The unexamined life is not worth living. The only thing I can change is myself. I spent my childhood trying to "fix" them. They wanted me to. I would sit them down. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Ony one - but the lightbulb has to want to change
—Guest fish

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

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