Many Children from Alcoholic Homes Constantly Seek Approval

Real Stories from Adult Children of Alcoholics

Woman Seeking Another's Approval
Do You Constantly Seek Other's Approval?. © Getty Images

One trait that seems to be common to many adult children of alcoholics is the need to constantly seek approval and affirmation from others. Because they received very little praise or approval from their emotionally absent alcoholic parent, they look to others for approval and become constant people-pleasers.

Approval-seeking is one of several common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics, but also children who grew up in homes with other types of emotional challenges.

This may include compulsive behaviors such as gambling, overeating or drug abuse, and may also be the case for children who were physically or sexually abused.

In answering the question, "How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?" visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site explain what it means to constantly seek approval for others:

Consumed With Pleasing People
I'm constantly searching to fix the problems of those around me. I'm consumed with pleasing the people around me and become depressed when I feel that someone doesn't like me or is unhappy with me. -- Alli

Go Out of My Way to Please
I've picked up the habit of not wanting to disappoint people. I hate being wrong or I hate it when I let people down. I want affection and will go out of my way to please anyone. -- Arin

Need to Serve Others
I feel the need to serve others, so I have to have a couple of people around who need me to cook, clean, run errands or somehow be helpful. I don't care about myself very much, only how useful I am to others. -- Fish

I Need Constant Approval, Reassurance
I'm a chronic caretaker, people-pleaser, need constant approval and reassurance. I have low self-esteem, caught in the middle of taking care of my parents and children now because I'm an only child. I'm almost 50 and still feel like a child because my parents still treat me as one. -- Lala

Need Approval to Make Me Whole
I go into each relationship thinking I can make this person a better person. I lose myself, I give everything to this person and am miserable most of the time. I seek their approval to make me whole. -- Jan

Constantly Searching for Acceptance
I felt a lot abandonment, while constantly searching for love and acceptance with the people around me. I also find a lot of abuse occurred during those years, emotionally, physically and mentally to name a few, which affected me in the way I dealt with my own partners I picked. -- Giro

Looking for Kindness, Praise
I remember being petrified to come home from school and learning to quickly read her face to see what the night might bring. I was always wrong, homely, stupid and so on and now I wonder what kind of adult I might have been if I had received consistent kindness and a bit of praise. -- Ghost

Do You Seek Approval From Others?

Many adult children of alcoholics have found in Al-Anon Family Groups or the support group Adult Children of Alcoholics that they can learn how to become happy and content with themselves without having to constantly seek approval from others.

How about you? Was your life affected by growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional environment? You may want to take this quiz to see if you have been affected in ways that you may not have even noticed.

Return to: The Effects of Growing Up with an Alcoholic

Sources:

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, "The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic," (Attributed to Tony A., 1978). Accessed November 2010.

Janet G. Woititz, "The 13 Characteristics of Adult Children," The Awareness Center. Accessed November 2010.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Helping Yourself Heal: A Recovering Woman's Guide to Coping with Childhood Abuse Issues" Updated 2008.

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