1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

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

Responses: 587


Updated September 22, 2012

Adult children of alcoholics are people who grew up in a home with at least one alcoholic parent and whose lives were likely profoundly affected by the experience. If you grew up in an alcoholic home, share how you think it affected you most. Post Your Answer


I choose men who are clearly emotionally unavailable. Even if they tell me they are not ready for a relationship from the start, I don't internalize it and keep lying to myself thinking I can make someone else feel something they don't want to. I invest all my time and energy into that one person, and get hurt when they don't do the same for me. I struggle to have a life outside of that person, make their needs more important than my own. The time I spend with the person is never enough, and my fear of abandonment leads me to not want to say goodbye, even if I know it's for a short time. I go in and out of bouts of depression when I am not with the person or don't have plans with the person, and this is because I feel unhealthily dependent on the person. After spending significant time with the emotionally unavailable guy, I feel devastated that their minds haven't changed about wanting a relationship. I also set boundaries, but don't keep them for fear of hurting the other person.
—Guest Hurting

If I Were Me

Although not specifically from an alcoholic family, I had a parent who relied on anti-depressants, and I relate strongly to what so many express here, in addition to the "Laundry List". Not being good at anything they gave out trophies for, I grew up with virtually no peer acceptance, and in retrospect my parents were poorly equipped to deal with it. Hoping I would eventually outgrow my difficulties, I basically had to 'go it alone'. Now in my 50's, I feel more like an 'old child' rather than an adult. I question my own motives, even those that result in good deeds, and am terrified of not being liked by everyone. I'm preoccupied with a desire to return to the past and I have been prone to limerant obsessions about people I wish I could 'be' during most of my adulthood. But still I thank God for keeping my sense of humor in tact and placing good people in my life. In spite of everything I do feel hopeful. I wish everyone here strength and success.
—Guest bob


Mother became alcoholic in my mid/late teens after meeting alcoholic partner. Only child. Good father, who so sadly recently died. Many awful situations occurred, too many to mention. Many problems caused with my own partner by putting up with ,and trying to deal with mother. She has now stopped drinking, but behaviors still emerge. When i recognize these patterns i become jittery and nervous. Find it hard to cut off my relationship with her completely through guilt and her sadness, yet cannot function properly myself. I think i have situational anxiety perhaps. Manipulative and recurring angst. The situational cycle continues. I now have my own child, but my own relationship with partner is deeply affected. Mother has anxiety problems ,manipulative and self pitying and controlling tendencies, i have guilt and nerves. Even though she has stopped drinking, i am still very affected by past and recurring cycles of behaviour. . .Now trying to understand what is best for me not her. Its hard
—Guest Arac

Im Crying

My dad has started drinking 2 years ago and now he is in my room and wants to knock down my door I snuck to a friends house and he drove me home and is now yelling at me banging on my door I called my aunt for help and that just made my dad worse now I don't know what to do help I'm 12
—Guest Stan

While I am typing right now she is drunk

My mother has been an alcoholic since as long as I can remember and she isn't exactly responsible either. When I was little I always got lost when I was in my mothers care and my little brother has gotten severely injured because she didn't watch us when she took us outside. She was also violent towards my father and one of my earliest memories were her throwing beer bottles at him while I was watching. She drinks every single day and I am sad to say that Ive rarely seen her sober and when she is drunk she would try to insult me and make me sad. She actually used to hit me when she was drunk for little reason and praise my brother non stop saying hes better than me and I'm just a spoiled brat and would just try to bring me down constantly and that was the time I was being bullied in school and she said it was my fault for being bullied. I felt like I could never get a break and went into depression (I was only 11 at the time). Now I'm 15 and I cant wait until I'm 18 to finally move out
—Guest Emily

It is who you are

You can't help it, but alcoholic parents are your genetic make up. They have completely ruined all that you desire in a family. It will never happen. Even if they get sober, they have hurt you enough that it doesn't matter. Maybe to them it makes it easier, but you will go your whole life trying to make up for their short comings. It sucks on both ends. Not going to sugar coat it. Good luck, we all need it.
—Guest Dawn Slicer

My Father Ruined Us

I'm sixteen and my father has been an alcoholic since I was 9. Since then, it's only become severely worse. He and my mother do not feel the same about each other anymore, and he argues most with my older sister about her boyfriend, getting a job... And I'm the lost child. I am the only one who hasn't said anything to him about it, or tried telling him how I feel, because I don't want him to ignore me like he does my mom and sister. I hate who he is, and I hate that he drinks, and I am scared of him sometimes. He's the reason we are losing our house in September and I have no sympathy for him sometimes.
—Guest Fay

Still Drinking

Grew up with an alcoholic father. Parents divorced when I was 5 but my mom is a pothead and was always "tired" and would go out every weekend with her boyfriend and cohabited with other single mothers who were even worse. I used to be afraid of my dad. I visited him in rehab when I was younger. Then in my 20s he moved to florida to take care of my grandmother but now he is just down there. He only calls me when he is drunk, and he obviously isn't trying to stay sober anymore. I just called him right now on a Monday night, he is drunk by 9pm. He is a nice guy and all, and I no longer fear him but you can't imagine having a father that you can't look up to as a role model. I have to pave my own road. I also find, like others, that when I find a friend who I do admire I will be very clingy to that person and even push them away sometimes. Other times I model the lazy indifference of my mother and don't even get close in the first place.
—Guest Earl

That's me to a T

I wish I had known 30 years ago how much work I would have to do to become healthy, after the horrible childhood I went through. Instead, at age 52, I just ruined the best relationship I've ever had with a wonderful woman who loves me very much, and who I love more than I have ever loved anybody except maybe my mother. When a minor event made her angry at me at a concert in San Francisco, I locked myself into a course of action that I was not able to clean up. I left her at the concert venue with her friends. I LEFT HER! How can I ever forgive myself for what I did, when she cannot forgive me? I feel like I will have to be in therapy for the rest of my life to try to ensure that I won't ruin all my relationships. And I might as well have the plague when it comes to dating again.
—Guest Andrew

I am so sick of my alcoholic mother

I'm 19 and my mother has been an alcoholic for 6 years now and living with her is unbearable because i'm living with her still and her boyfriend is also an alcoholic for 20 years now and she knows she has a drinking problem but she can't seem to stop drinking and it's all progressed to not having a relationship with her it's nonexistent and it hurts me because she puts no effort into trying to change that fact and she has no interest in me as her kid and she claims that she has more in common with her boyfriend which is ridiculous to me. I love her but it's come to a point where I feel so lonely and not interesting since she doesn't care about me and i don't feel loved and since both of my parents have never been encouraging and supportive i find it hard to motivate myself and also i've been depressed for a long time and I've gotten to a point where I hate my mom for not being there for me and i've tried to tell myself that I don't care if we don't have a relationship anymore but it do
—Guest Debbie

Harder each day

Since i was six my mum had a baby but before she had me and my sister she had two stillbirths when i was six she started drinking i was too young to notice but i can remember my dad pouring her drink out and her crying as i got older i starting doing things like writing her notes hiding her cans so it was easier for me because i did keep it a secret from my family but i had my dad to. Talk to last year my dad died so now i have to take charge and make sure my sister gets fed and bills repaid but my mum keeps on yelling and my dad isn't here to help so i don't know what to do in 16
—Guest the same

Changes who you are

The talk show Dr. on television often says that parents write on the slate of who you are. It's much more than that. They basically leave you with no self-esteem or at best or nervous and afraid of everybody and trust no-one. I moved out of my home at 17 to find peace without a screaming alcoholic father and equally screaming (yet sober) mother. They fought physically and loudly for all the neighbors to hear. I found peace in my grandmother's home and later an apartment alone but always live with my guard up and an instinct to run as soon as the yelling starts. I'm 62 and it still haunts me. I pray for peace and the ability to forgive my father for what he did to us. He died at age 48 from what he did to himself.
—Guest changedforlife

The Drunk Mom

My mother (i really don't like calling her that) likes to get drunk almost everyday. An when she does she gets angry. She always yells at me for little stuff and gets more frustrated when I fight back. Sometimes I wish she would hit me so I have a reason to leave this hellhole. (btw I am 15) I usually keep things bottled up. sadly I resorted to self-harm and she asks me if I do and I say no. Because she is they reason why... I won't do anything and I get yelled at and cursed at and threatened. An she always uses the same excuse. "If I was you my mother would have slapped me by now." She doesn't get that she doesn't have to be like her mom, she can be kinder and nice. but she doesn't change. it got worse when my parents divorced when I was 7. All the anger from that was put on me and it's not right to do that to your child. It's been happening ever since. I have learned to keep quite till she leaves then ball my eyes out... My boyfriend can't wait for the day he gets me away from here
—Guest Broken Daughter

My father

I am 19 in college and towards the end of dealing with my father. It's sad that he can't stop drinking and everyone tells me to stop trying. But, hes my dad, hes my ride, and I am dependent on him. Just found out this ACoA and it defines what I need. I babysit my father and there is no other term I could use. He is a schizophrenic (diagnosed) who abused me and my mom and sister when we were young. He is a pot head and very very dumb. I dont know how to react, he used to beat me when I was a child and then I reacted by crying. He tried to beat me up last year and I attacked back and he learned he was mostly fat and lost. He later called the cops and I lost 300 dollars for not much. I didnt even hit him in the face, not saying its right just saying he did it a lot when I was a kid and I didnt think of calling the police. I feel terrible, I feel closed and I cant ignore it. I need him for stuff. So its not over. I cant just forget it but soon i will graduate college and leave. Hopefully..
—Guest Andrew


I grew up in a foster home where the foster parent, the mother drank a lot. when she would drink, she would throw bottles, pull guns on her husband, even though it was not loaded she did not know if it was or not. She would torture my poor Foster father especially when he came home from work. I know he hated to come home, because he never knew what he was going to find. I was always scared, because I did not know what was going to happen next. one night she was drunk basically all day, and it was time for me to go to bed, she climbed into bed with me I was only 9. I was too scared to tell the caseworker. when she requested for me to leave the foster home, she told them that I was too hard to handle; she put the blame on me, but what she did not do was tell them that she was an out of control alcoholic.
—Guest Tracie M. Staggers

Post Your Answer

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

Receive a one-time notification when your response is published.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.