Children of Alcoholics


Children of alcoholics often bear the brunt of the indirect affects of an alcoholic parent. Their feelings cover a wide range of emotions. Because of their home life, the way the child acts in school can be signs to teachers and other authority figures that something is wrong in the home.

Children of alcoholics often feel guilty and blame themselves as the reason that their parent drinks. Anxiety is another common emotion the child may feel because of the constant worrying about what may or may not happen at home. The child will often be embarrassed because of the huge "secret" that they are covering for at home. It is often hard for the child to trust anyone because of the constant disappoints he/she has endured from their parent(s). The child may also seem overly confused since their alcoholic parent has frequent mood swings that come about at the drop of a hat; they also have no set schedule to their daily routine, which is something that children need when they are growing up. Anger is also extremely common and it can vary in that the child may be angry with the alcoholic parent for drinking or the child may be angry with the sober parent for not intervening on his/her behalf during the alcoholic's outburst - either verbal or physical. All of these emotions can lead to depression because the child is unable to fix the situation.

Some children of alcoholics may also be very responsible. They get through the alcoholism by excelling in school and yet still remain emotionally distant with their peers and teachers. They may also be very responsible and act like parents to both their peers and their teachers.

Because of the dysfunctional home life they have endured, children of alcoholics often have outward signs that teachers and authority figures can pick up on. These signs help the authority figures to realize that all is not well in the home and they can sit down with the child to find out the exact nature of the problem and provide help to the child should he/she require it. Some of the behaviors that can alert authority figures to a child who may have a troubled home life are: the child is not making good grades in school, has no friends and very little contact with peers, is aggressive towards peers or is depressed.

Children of alcoholics have a lot to cope with in their daily life. Not only do they have to be at home with their alcoholic, and possibly abusive, parent, but they also have to go to school. At school they have to try and hide the problem because it is portrayed as a huge "secret." The emotional roller coaster can be hard on children and is often a cue to teachers and authority figures that problems may exist in the home.



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Random Facts about Alcohol

Despite alcohol being prohibited to those under 21, 62% of high school seniors claim to have been drunk - half of these individuals claim to have had five or more drinks in a row during the previous 2 weeks.

LD Johnston, et.al., Monitoring the Future Study, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 12/99


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