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Children of Alcoholics - Family Dynamics And Developmental Influences

adult coas roles alcoholism

There is no doubt that living in the presence of an alcoholic parent yields negative impacts (Christensen and Bilenberg 2000; Crespi 1990; Steinglass 1987). Parental alcoholism can instill a legacy which affects the development of both individual family members and patterns carried forward from one generation to the next (Rosellini and Worden 1985; Seixas and Youcha 1985). Still, what are the specific developmental implications of living within a family stained by alcoholism?

Developmental implications of an alcohol-focused family. Much of what is known about the developmental implications of growing up within an alcohol-focused family system (i.e., a family adjusting and reacting to an alcoholic parent) comes from research comparing children (and adult children) of alcoholic parents to the children of nonalcoholic parents. The research conclusively indicates that children from alcoholic family systems are more prone to develop life-long psychological and/or behavioral problems than children from nonalcohol-focused family systems (e.g., Black 1981; Crespi 1985, 1990; Jacob et al. 1999; Woititz 1985, 1983). Thus, children of alcoholics are often thought to be casualties of parental drinking, with such generalized problems as impaired school performance, low self-esteem, role confusion, impulsiveness, and depression. In addition, partially as a product of the behavioral consequences associated with living within a dysfunctional alcoholic system, children of alcoholics are at-risk for abuse, eating disorders, conduct disorders, alcoholism, communication problems, relational deficits, and problems with intimacy (Whipple, Fitzgerald, and Zucker 1995; Chassin, Rogosch, and Barrera 1991; Jacob, Krahn, and Leonard 1991; West and Prinz 1987). Moreover, families of alcoholics tend to be less organized, less cohesive, and marked by increased levels of conflict than nonalcoholic families.

The developmental problems resulting from growing up in an alcohol-focused family system are further supported by the longitudinal research on COAs. In a 33-year study of children of alcoholics, for instance, Robert E. Drake and George E. Vaillant (1988) noted that sons of alcoholic fathers were less competent in such tasks as schooling and interpersonal relationships, were more likely to be delinquent, and were more likely to become alcohol dependent than sons of nonalcoholics.

In spite of the fact that much of the extant research has used relatively small comparative samples, the widespread problems associated with familial alcoholism cannot be discounted. Thus, Janet G. Woititz (1983) identifies thirteen long-term after-effects of alcoholic parenting:

  1. Adult children of alcoholics guess at what normal behavior is.
  2. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  3. Adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy.
  5. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty having fun.
  6. Adult children of alcoholics take themselves very seriously.
  7. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. Adult children of alcoholics overreact to changes over which they have no control.
  9. Adult children of alcoholics constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  10. Adult children of alcoholics usually feel that they are different from other people.
  11. Adult children of alcoholics are super-responsible or super-irresponsible.
  12. Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that their loyalty is undeserved.
  13. Adult children of alcoholics are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

Family dynamics within the alcohol-focused family system. As noted above, the alcohol-focused family system is associated with developmental problems. Although common sense would suggest that parental alcoholism would not be a positive influence, and whereas all children are not impacted equally, there is striking evidence that COAs have felt that their families were not "real" families and that the family environment was adversely impacted by an alcoholic parent (Wilson and Orford 1978). In addition, the research makes it clear that children within alcohol-focused systems often occupy roles that limit their autonomy, flexibility, and overall adjustment.

Building a conceptual framework, Edward M. Scott (1970) identified an assortment of roles often assumed by children of alcoholics. Each of Scott's identified roles reflects unresolved themes that hamper happiness and well-being. Those he categorizes as babes in the woods, for instance, retain many childlike and immature emotional reactions throughout adulthood. Likewise, Scott's bedroom adult reflects a person who finds adulthood through sexuality, while actually being hampered from psychological maturity and autonomy because of unresolved familial issues stemming from alcoholic influences. Elsewhere, Tony D. Crespi (1990), drawing on a detailed case analysis as a foundational framework, described the concept of tool children to illuminate a devastating categorization of roles in COAs, using the conceptualization of children as tools for parental needs. From sexual magnets used to gratify inappropriate adult needs to garbage children treated as so much discarded garbage, the model of tool children reflects the negative consequences which result when children are used in overly restrictive ways. Unfortunately, a tool that breaks when used inappropriately may be replaced; children cannot.

While different researchers use different terms for different roles, the concept of narrowly restricted behavioral roles is noteworthy for COAs. In effect, children in alcoholic families rarely learn the combinations of roles characteristic of healthy adult personalities and instead become locked into narrow roles based upon what they need to do to survive. Such roles (e.g., Wegschscheder-Cruse 1989) can include the enabler, the hero, the scapegoat, the lost child, or the mascot. As a result, COAs do not develop flexible behavioral ways of coping with stress and learn to focus on overly narrow ways. As the alcoholic becomes the focus of family adjustment, family members begin to act and react to alcoholic-induced and -effected behavior, rather than reacting in healthy unimpaired ways.

While this only partially captures the complex dynamics of an alcoholic family, it highlights how the developmental adjustment of adulthood is impacted by an alcoholic parent. While the effects of parental alcoholism can vary depending upon a child's developmental stage (Harter 2000), there is growing evidence that parental alcoholism impacts development across the lifespan. A sampling of developmental research conducted on COAs at different ages and stages of development reveals that pre-school and young children have demonstrated behavior problems, vulnerabilities to aggressive and delinquent behavior, and difficulties in such areas as academic achievement and cognitive functioning (Puttler et al. 1998); adolescents have demonstrated negative academic performances in English and math, as well as negative psychological and substance abuse outcomes (McGrath, Watson, and Chassin 1999; West and Prinz 1987); depression has been noted as elevated in college samples (Sher et al. 1991); and increased marital conflict, decreased family cohesion, and role distress has been reported in a middle-aged sample (Domenico and Windle 1993).

Ironically, in spite of individual efforts to separate and reject the family, the legacy of an alcoholic parent can assert influence and control over a wide array of life events, as well as a life course. COAs are at greater risk of possessing psychological and behavioral difficulties. H. Bygholm Christensen and Niels Bilenberg (2000) found that COAs had more than twice the risk as non-COAs for depression and social behavioral disorders and enhanced risk for alcoholism.


Children of Alcoholics - Conclusion [next]

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over 3 years ago

Dear MissAnon ~

Wow! You really want us to think you are wonderful and without any flaws! Guess what? That desire to be perfect and control our perception of you is right on target for the adult child of an alcoholic. Look it up! Get in touch with your feelings of instead of trying so hard to be what you think successful and healthy looks like. If you were who you say you are you wouldn't be looking for answers here.

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almost 7 years ago

my husband had alcoholic parents and had a very dysfunctional life and we have been married for 25 years and out of the 25 he has been unfaithful for 22 years.I filed for divorce recently and he says he loves me and wants only me but at the same time he was dating but asking to come home he didn't know I knew and continued to lie and say he was doing nothing.Anyway, he is now going to counseling and in my oponion trying to get away with what he's doing by blaming his alcoholic parents and his screwed up childhood.I feel that once you become an adult you have the option of NOT doing things and taking responsibilty for your actions.Am I wrong about this?He destroyed our marriage and our lives.Our kids have no rescept for me because I continue to see him and I have no rescept for myself because he's treated me like crap and until now basically let him get away with it.I am so angry and would get alot of satisfaction out of physically hurting him.

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over 3 years ago

There are real problems between the popular view of `adult children` and reality. The AA model which is quasi religious and treats the alcoholic as the same as the partner and children is in my opinion dangerous. The alcoholic family dynamics are very complex and change depending on where you are situated within the family and which adult was the alcoholic. I don`t appreciate the set of ideas about who we are as adult children. To me it is dangerous to generalise. It is more important to an adult child - a term which is in itself questionable - to be treated as an individual. For those looking for answers there is less `popular` but more authentic research in journals and on the web if you google `family dynamics of alcoholics`. Generalisations lead to labelling which is not helpful.

I do believe that any family with a member who is an alcoholic in treatment should be forced by law to have family therapy on a long term basis for the sake of the children to prevent abuse.

I sympathise with the first response from autumn2.

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almost 4 years ago

i im 16 & pregnant. I have an alcoholic mother that choose her beer over me. when she is drunk she just passes out on the couch or starts yelling. All i want to do is cry because i don't understand why i deserve this life & im a good person but i just have no where to turn no more and i really dont know what to do because i dont want to be living here when i have my daughter because i dont want her having this in her life i want so much better for her. I love my mom but she just wont get help.

any advice????

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almost 6 years ago

Once again, we see the huge gap between credible scientific research and the popular literature. The works of Woititz, Black, and Wegsheider represent popular literature. It would be helpful to look at more credible sources using samples other than self-selected ones. The COA article by NIAAA and Orford's more recent books are worth taking a look at. No doubt growing up in a chaotic environment has a negative impact but to oversimplify and generalize is grossly inaccurate. I hope that the day will soon come that we lose the "one size fits all model" and embrace the reality that there are a large number of "programs" that one can "get with" in order to improve their lot and their lives.

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over 7 years ago

I think stained is a correct way to describe the situation. I too am a child of alcholism and can safely say it has stained my life. I am the person I am because of alcoholism. However, I do not fall under the category of many of the above descriptions. I think it is important to study the various types of alcoholics to correctly define the outcome or assumed outcome of the child. I am writing my thesis on this topic, please e-mail me if you'd like to give testimony or further discuss.

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over 7 years ago

Stained is certainly a word that makes sense to me. Now a 45 year old (eldest child of an alcoholic family) now with a my own family of two little girls (who are diagnosed with CF) and the fact that I recently lost my mother to drug abuse (albiet prescribe drugs due to self prescribed ADD), the crap has resurfaced. Somewhere in between a fairness issue and that life can be messy, I have recently taken to see a therapist to reslolve long time anger. issues. Interestingly, he has suggested the possibility of revisiting AA or Alanon again. I read the behaviors above and realized how much of that behavior is true.



That I am responding to your posts without much thought behind the words is interesting in itself.



Maybe this will go somewhere.



SHF

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over 3 years ago

intersteing

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over 3 years ago

I am an adult child of an alcoholic and I dont agree at all with the above view.

Just to give a short description of my experience.. My mother is an alcoholic and i am the oldest of five. Her and my father had a very dysfunctional relationship for as long as i can remember. Me and my three brothers and sister suffered a lot. My mothers sadness and depression lead her to alcoholism. To cut a very long and painful story short she failed two rehabs and i now feel that she is coming close to the end of her journey, she is drinking herself to death..and i have absolutly no control over it.



I am currently in my final year in uni, have a management position job, have lots of friends and am generally a pleasant and happy person to be around. I do not portray any characteristics that differ from my friends just because my mother is an alcoholic.

I feel that i posess a higher level of maturity than a lot of my friends and they always look to me for sensible advice. I do not talk about my situation very often unless someone asks, it is horrifing for people and they dont know what to say..thats fair enough, i totally understand!

In a way, the above article and similar articles i have read scare me. Why do I not possees the behaviours of a 'normal' aldult alcoholic child? Is this something that will affect me a few years down the line? Am i going to become an alcoholic? will i marry one? Sends shivers down my spine! There are hundreds of articals online that express similar views to the above..and it seems to be scientific fact that if you are an adult child of an alcoholic you are damaged!

I have never received councelling for what i have gone through, and still am going through and i feel fine about it. I have accepted that my mother has a serious illness. In my eyes its like she has cancer. Do adult children of cancer patients suffer any abnormalities? I am happy with my self, have high self esteem and am living my life :)

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over 7 years ago

"Still, what are the specific developmental implications of living within a family stained by alcoholism?"



I am an adult child of an alcoholic. I find the use of the word "stained", as used in the article, very offensive and unecessarily hurtful. Might it have been just as easy, and less biased, for you to say something like, "...living within a family 'affected' by alcoholism"?

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3 months ago


Hello i want to share my testimony on how i married for the pass 12yrs
without even conceiving a baby and i have done all the medical check
up and the doctors said am okay yet i was still unable to conceive
until one faith days i was on the internet doing some research and i
saw a testimony share by someone on how a man call Dr.amine help
her to get conceive a baby after casting a pregnancy for her and i
have no option than to also contact this man on this same email which
is aminespelltemple@yahoo.com and to my greatest surprise after he
has cast the spell for me and he told me told have sex with my husband
and i did as he instructed me and to God be the glory at the end of
the month i miss my period and i want for hospital for check up again
and the doctor said am two weeks pregnant and i was so surprise and
all this came through with the help of Dr amine once again contact
him aminespelltemple@yahoo.com because he just save my marriage
and i know many of you are out there with the same problem don't
hesitate to contact him now\



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4 months ago

I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

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10. BEAUTY SPELL.

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11 months ago

i just want to share my testimony here.. i was married for 12 years to my husband and all of a sudden, another woman came into the life of my husband.. he started hailing me and he was abusive..but i still loved him with all my heart and wanted him at all cost…then he filed for divorce..my whole life was turning apart and i didn't know what to do..he moved out of the house and abandoned me and my 3 kids.. so someone told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back and introduced me to a spell caster called ashra so i decided to try it reluctantly..although i didn't believe in all those things… then when he cast the spell, after 3 days that he told me, my husband came back and was pleading..he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn't believe it.. anyways we are back together now and we are happy..in case anyone needs this man help, his email address ashraspellhome@yahoo.com his spells is for a better life

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about 1 year ago


I am ELIZABETH i want to start this way by giving a huge thanks to this man DR IGODO
for what he has just done today in my life . at first i thought it won,t work because many has failed me before but on a second thought i said let just try and to my best surprises PAUL my husband that said and insist he has nothing to do with me and my family called me immediately this great man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com cast a love spell on him and started begging for forgiveness well i love him so much and at once i accepted him back and today we are both living in peace and harmony, all the same the glory is to this man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com DOC I THANK YOU once again for you are worthy of all the thanks in my mouth today and forever am grateful and shall ever be to you . i also want to say if you are out there passing through a similar stuff or issues you can contact him today and i believe him will also help you out ,,,,THANKS BE TO THE GOD OF IGODO.

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about 1 year ago


I am ELIZABETH i want to start this way by giving a huge thanks to this man DR IGODO
for what he has just done today in my life . at first i thought it won,t work because many has failed me before but on a second thought i said let just try and to my best surprises PAUL my husband that said and insist he has nothing to do with me and my family called me immediately this great man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com cast a love spell on him and started begging for forgiveness well i love him so much and at once i accepted him back and today we are both living in peace and harmony, all the same the glory is to this man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com DOC I THANK YOU once again for you are worthy of all the thanks in my mouth today and forever am grateful and shall ever be to you . i also want to say if you are out there passing through a similar stuff or issues you can contact him today and i believe him will also help you out ,,,,THANKS BE TO THE GOD OF IGODO.

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about 1 year ago


I am ELIZABETH i want to start this way by giving a huge thanks to this man DR IGODO
for what he has just done today in my life . at first i thought it won,t work because many has failed me before but on a second thought i said let just try and to my best surprises PAUL my husband that said and insist he has nothing to do with me and my family called me immediately this great man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com cast a love spell on him and started begging for forgiveness well i love him so much and at once i accepted him back and today we are both living in peace and harmony, all the same the glory is to this man DR IGODO of igodospelltemple@gmail.com DOC I THANK YOU once again for you are worthy of all the thanks in my mouth today and forever am grateful and shall ever be to you . i also want to say if you are out there passing through a similar stuff or issues you can contact him today and i believe him will also help you out ,,,,THANKS BE TO THE GOD OF IGODO.

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over 1 year ago


my story goes to everyone out there that are in the situation that i have also being through. and how i was saved.I have been rejected by my husband after nine(9) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kids to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address perfectspellcaster3@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband. and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband.his email : perfectspellcaster3@gmail.com you can contact him for help and get your problem solved.

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over 3 years ago

Does anyone know of any report on the workplace culture that seems to be one big alcoholic family or that has key personnell who are in fact "adult children? "
Also- my mother's father was a roaring alcoholic but neither of my parents were drinkers- not tea- totallers but just didn't drink much- but I feel like I am an adult child with these issues- can the patterns established in my mom's childhood carry over and affect me too? Is it the "dysfunction" that carries over to the next generation and the next or am I just a nut job?
send me an e-mail if you like...thnx

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about 4 years ago

This article infuriates me. I am adult child of alcoholic and none of this is true about me. I once went to counseling to avoid being controlled and was accused of all sorts of things. This is because I checked yes when the correct answer was no on the question would you throw the alcohol down the drain. I thought we were going to go over the questionaire. Like in School. The idea of doing this was so horrifying to me that I wanted explanation. I would never have done this and still can not see how it could help. The person themselves have to change from deep with in and I have obviously known this from child hood.

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almost 6 years ago

Had a good read of this and I can point out quite a few points relate to me very very well. I am currently 22 years old, and studying in Uni.



My father was an alcoholic from a very young age around 17.Mt mother didn't choose to marry him but it just happened. Anywayz, as a child I was beaten a lot. If I did something wrong, or if I didn't do my school homework i was punished for it. My father would come home from work drunk and take all this anger out on me and my sister. I as a child thought that I deserved being beaten for being naughty. i agree a child may need a smakc if he/she is naughty but not severely. I was even whipped as a child. I was always told I am not good enough and always had to do theings my fathers way. If he wasn't happy, then I did something wrong.This has given me very low self-esteem and socially isolated. When I am near large groups of people, I tend to act shy and very nervous. I feel everyone is looking at me. I get quite paranoid. I have not even managed to have a girlfriend and I am 22 years old. Other than that I have achived well academically in a way where I have reached Uni and have a stable job. I currently live with my mum and sister and rarely see my dad. He left the house when I was 13 since my mum got so sick of his drinking that she chose to divorce him without a choice and he had no choice but to leave home. I wonder if I will ever come out of this tough shell. Like I dont trust anyone at all. I keep things to myself and also, feel I cant trust anyone. As a young child, I was very hyperactive and couldn't sit still at all. very fidgety and nervous.



I dont know what to do. I will try and improve on my confidence and try and get a girlfriend. I am good looking, but lack the confidence.



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almost 6 years ago

I read this and it was like i was reading a discription of my husband, his parents and siblings. I am still discovering material and information on what is alcoholism and realise i know so little, however i do think this article has real value. I realise I need to unlearn alot of my own behaviours that I have developed as response as a protection mechanism to a disease I never understood.

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almost 7 years ago

This really hits home for me. I am 28 years old and was "raised" by two alcoholic parents. Needless to say life was chaotic growing up. Thankfully, I have never had a problem with alcohol but it has without a doubt affected me and I'm sure will continue to. It wasn't until I was out of college and on my own and in my first serious adult relationship that I realized the effects my upbringing had on me. I basically had to unlearn all of these things that I thought were normal. It was as if I were addicted to the drama, the chaos, and the turmoil because it was what I was used to. I'd run off at the mouth and say horrible and hateful things to my boyfriend at the time, never for a second thinking that these things that I had said would actually hurt him. In my family, we would yell and scream and tell each other how much we hated each other but we never actually meant what we were saying or thought the other person really hated us. These were just words and words meant nothing. I could go on forever about these "a-ha!" moments that have occured so far in my life but I'll spare you.
To Joseph, I am sad to hear about your situation. I think it's impossible to know how much of what we do today is a direct result of upbringing. But, I will say that I don't believe that it is an excuse for the betrayal and confusion that she has caused you. There is only so much that can be attributed to "abandonment issues". I think and I hope that in your heart you know what to do. Best of luck to you and everyone else for that matter.

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almost 7 years ago

Hi it's Joe the Soldier again. Would someone please respond. I have no idea about this stuff. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

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almost 7 years ago

Hi It's me again. I just finished my counseling session and all I want to do is cry cos I see no hope.I feel like he's still conning me and using the counseling he's going to for his usual lies.I month ago he asked to come home so we could work things out but that same night he went out on a date.He lies allthe time.He's dated about 4 other women and thinks I don't know but contines the lies. Am I better off out of his life? Is there any hope of change if he's honest with this counselor> I am desperate. The marriage is dead but is there ANY chance to salvage a relationship for the future??? Help me.

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almost 7 years ago

I'm 29 and a deployed Soldier. My wife whom I married shortly before leaving was 11 when her alcoholic mother for years died by falling into a vent where she hid her alcohol. Now I just found that my wife 26 has been seeing someone. She cries that I left her, but says her love for him is "different". I've been talking to a counselor here who says she has abandonment issues and may hae viewed my long absence as such. I love her and want my marriage to work. And we had a wonderful healthy relationship for over a year when we got married. I want to forgive her and have told her that she can come back and won't have to wear the "scarlet letter". But she is an adult. I love her so much and hate to let her leave. Should I continue to tell her how much I love her and hope she sees I'm real and won't leave her like her mother or do I leave because she's an adult and knows better? Please help. I'm searching for answers and I'm lost. Thanks Joe

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almost 7 years ago

Stained...yes,that says it well about the pervasive,subtle or not so subtle blemish on family members in an alcoholic family.I grew up in an alcoholic home and am a recovering alcoholic.I don't hold my family responsible for my alcoholism and how my family life effected me.They didn't understand alcoholism any more that I did until I went to AA.In an alcoholic home,we children know something is wrong.We usually conclude that it's something with us.I never realized how I was effecting my children by my faulty thinking and perceptions,thus I passed on the legacy of alcoholic thinking to my children.In recovery,by using the 12 steps of Alcoholics Ana.Iam a healthier person.My grandchildren are proud of my recovery as are my children.I hope through my actions that I can at least weaken the cycle of alcoholism in my little family.At the least,my family has been able to see how recovery has changed my life and they know where to go if they want it too.I hope that my grandchildren will go to alateen.I have I child in recovery,but unfortunately not going to meetings.My oldest daughter knows a great deal about recovery but has never gotten a sponsor or taken the steps.Recovery is about taking action,it's not what's in your head.My other daughter appears to be going down the same road I did,she's probably an alcoholic.You don't have to drink or use any other substances to think like an alcoholic.Alcohol is only a symptom.It's the type of thinking that is passed on in an alcoholic family.You take on a role(s)the flunky,overachiever,perfectionist,whatever.You never just become who you are.You are always filling a role.The stain can be lessened and even removed by becoming involved in a twelve step program and getting a sponsor and taking the steps.

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about 7 years ago

hmmm Stained perhaps, but there are some positive effects in my case. I see the stains and deterred from any further and needless destruction. I learned so much from my parents, that I am able to employ now helping others as I continue to help myself. Please mention there are some of us out here that have turned the negative abuse into positive education, and empathic understanding. The hurt and abusive memories will always be there, that will not change, but I choose to use my understanding to help other children learn to cope.

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about 7 years ago

I feel less stained and more dyed but the premise is a good one. Generations of abuse exist in every branch of my family tree and I did not get out intact. I abused drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, and sex. I've been working with a therapist for 7 years now and have been sober for 6. My children are working with their own therapists to counter the dysfunctional legacy that their father and I brought to their lives. I am hopeful that they will be the generation that can reach adulthood with appropriate coping skills.