There are specific family dynamics and patterns when one or both parents are alcoholics. These dynamics have a lifelong effect on children and it is possible to identify symptoms in adult children.
When parents are emotionally mature, they can provide children with a sense of identity, protection and respect. This becomes the development basis for adults that have positive self-esteem, a strong sense of self and the ability to face important life challenges.
In families where there is alcoholism, there is a strong sense of uncertainty. The child must predict the unpredictable: their parents’ erratic behavior. Children grow up feeling the need to take care of their parents and be the “adults” in the house. Lies are necessary in order to keep the family dynamics functioning and secrets are kept by all. Children attribute the problems in the house to themselves and feel responsible for their parent’s problems, developing an intense inner critic. Fun is an unknown concept, because it is not permitted or can be ruined in one second. Children learn that the world is unstable and unpredictable. There is an underlying feeling of not knowing what “normal” is.
It is important to consider that children in families with alcoholism either cut off ties with their parents or decide to be caretakers during their adult lives. All the aforementioned characteristics affect the way these adult children establish relationships in life and how they set and achieve goals and how they view themselves.