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

Responses: 588


Updated September 22, 2012


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

It's so tough

Read these with tears in my eyes and a lot of pain. Can we really ever change? I seem to go one step forward and just slip straight back again.

Using my mother's drinking as a force

I grew up the only daughter to a single mother. We lived in a beautiful home in a well-off neighborhood. My mother worked hard and always did her best. She sacrificed everything she had for me, the problem was her drinking. She instilled a lot of anxiety in me, at a very young age. Unknowingly, she complained about bills and money problems, she would become very distressed whenever the smallest thing happened. She was raised with alcoholics and therefore had very strong social anxieties. She led me believe, time and time again, that the man she was with was my father. Ever ytime, without fail they left and I was the one picking up all the broken pieces, never being able to truly be a child; for a child does not mend a broken heart or pay bills. I now live in a beautiful apartment with a beautiful dog. I have an amazing job, and am truly happy inside. I am in my final phase of psychology and promise to specialize in anyone who grew up with a parent who suffered with addiction.
—Guest Mich!!

Protect children from abuse

I used to wish I had a mother who was not abusive. I used to wish I had a good grandmother for my son. I used to wish my father would've protected us. He didn't. But I can protect my son. If you think someone will harm your child, don't let them play the "family card". I made it through that childhood by the Grace of God only. I broke that cycle of abuse that had gone on for generations. Think about the children, they don't need a grandma. They need to be safe and nurtured. This is a parent's job. Period. I will take any blame for this non-decision. God knows the truth and I do too. I love my son enough to be the bad guy. God blessed me with the strength to protect my child.
—Guest fish

Growing up with an alcoholic

I find it really hard to make friends and trust people.

With child of my own...

My father is an alcoholic. I'm 28, married and have a perfect little boy. I still see my father and he loves my child, but I don't want him to hurt my son the way he hurt me... being cold, selfish, and distracted. Always living in stress that there would be another fight, yelling, slamming of doors, etc... Should my son be allowed to be subjected to that? Will it hurt him? Would keeping him from his grandfather hurt him more? I struggle with this all the time. I want my son to have a healthy, loving relationship with his Grandfather, but I don't know that it's even a possibility with my father still being an alcoholic. It's just a matter of time before my perfect little boy is hurt and damaged. What do I do?
—Guest Amy

Adult child of Alcoholic Mom in coma

Long story short, my Mom's alcoholism and drug abuse lead to her being in a car accident that put her in a coma. This happened when I was 13 and 16 years later, she's still in a coma. Growing up with her as a single Mom and the issues that were going on with alcohol and drug abuse have effected me a lot. Of course her accident led me to extremely deep feelings of abandonment and to this day I deal a lot with not being able to be consistent in my habits and my personality (due to constant chaos in the home). I've been to a few different social workers/counselors/psychologist and psychoanalysts in my life which have helped somewhat, but I still have really down spells when things don't go well and tend to spiral out of control. Not all is bad though, they could have been a lot worse. I was close to becoming an addict myself but decided to choose a healthy life instead, I have a wonderful partner that is loving and supportive and patient with my issues. I have a good life that I am proud of.
—Guest deeraspberry

Nightmares returned

I tried in my childhood and beyond to help my mother, she said she has no problems. Reading this adult child of alcoholics stuff opens a lot of wounds I started having the nightmares again. They are actually memories. I don't see the good of this. You can't change history.
—Guest fish


It wasn't until I started battling my own alcohol problem at 16 that I realized how deep the effects of my parents drinking ran my life. I was always socially awkward and it was my inability to partake in simple social interactions that lead to the uninhibited ruse that is alcohol. I never knew this feeling of displacement amongst the people I know who grew up with stable parents, and who have never had to experience the degrading comments, or unavoidable confrontation when you know your parents are going to be piss drunk when you get home. I blame myself for everything and I am always taking responsibility for problems that aren't my own. I put so much into relationships that are undeserving and try to maintain my own happiness by insuring that I can make those around me happy. It's just now that I recognize how much it will effect the rest of my life where do I begin to fix it?
—Guest 19

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

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