Children of Alcoholics Have Difficulty Having Fun

Real Stories From Children of Alcoholics

Boy Crying on Steps of Home
Children of Alcoholics Face Many Challenges. © Getty Images

One of the characteristics that many children who had an alcoholic parent report is difficulty having fun. Because they carry around so much anger, or because they have had so many events and holidays sabotaged by the alcoholic parent, they don't even expect to have fun.

Many children who grow up in an alcoholic home seem to have many common characteristics, and one of them is not being able to "let loose" and just have fun.

Visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site who answered the question, "How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?" describe what it's like:

Never Able to Let Loose
I've always felt different from other people, never able to let loose and have fun at social events, and always feeling alone. Everything is a competition to me; I feel like I always need to be the best, or I'm a failure. I struggle with my identity and I still don't have an answer to that "who am I" question. I'm trying my best to make sense of everything I've discovered about myself, but it's been trying and very painful. -- J.B.

Happiness Feels Fake
My happiness when present feels fake because I know it will always be overshadowed by some horrible incident. There are times when I feel as though I do not want to live because the pain is too great. How sad. -- Love

The Anger Is Still There
As a teenager, I felt alone and angry and always took this out on people closest to me. I would say to myself, "I will be happier when this happens, when I get this job or move out." But over the years I have realized the anger and sadness are still there. -- Hailey

I Cannot Go Have Fun
I grew up never feeling like I was normal, never feeling like I was good enough. Now I have such low self-esteem it's crippling. I can not go out and have fun like "normal" adults. -- Taylor

Stunted My Emotions
I think growing up with an alcoholic step-father has stunted my emotions, seems I get saddened easily, but the happy emotions are very low. Things people are normally jumping up and down about don't give me the same amount of excitement. Don't get me wrong, I still feel happiness, but not to the extent most people do. -- Biggie

Affected by Parental Alcoholism

If you grew up in a home where there was a lot of drinking, you may want to take this quiz to determine to what extent you may have been affected by the experience. If your life has been affected, you might want to seek help through professional counseling or find support in either Al-Anon Family Groups or the support group Adult Children of Alcoholics.

If you have a drinking problem and you have children in the home, they are being affected by your drinking and your behavior psychologically and emotionally more than you may realize. You may want to try to find help to quit or cut back on the amount of alcohol that you consume.

Return to: The Effects of Growing Up with an Alcoholic

Sources:

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

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.

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