How Does Parental Substance Abuse Affect Children?
A major effect of parental substance abuse on children is that kids blame themselves for the problem. They think it’s their fault that mom or dad drinks too much. They mistakenly believe that if they were better kids and changed their behavior, mommy and daddy would stop drinking and arguing all the time.
Why Do Kids Blame Themselves For Their Parent’s Alcoholism?
Alcoholics are often in denial about their drinking. They don’t want to face the fact that they have a problem, so they blame others. Kids pick up on this and incorporate it into their thinking. At the same time, they can feel deeply resentful toward their parents for not addressing the problem themselves.
What Are The Emotional Effects Of Parental Substance Abuse On Children?
Children of alcoholics are more emotionally challenged than other kids. They often feel angry, depressed, unhappy, embarrassed, fearful, confused, worried, sad, unloved, helpless, and alone. Because they blame themselves for their parents’ alcoholism, they usually have low self esteem. These kids grow up feeling neglected and often experience emotional and physical abuse from their parents or someone else. The effects of parental substance abuse on kids can include being left alone for long periods of time. Living with an addict involves constant uncertainty, and kids are always trying to gauge the mood of the alcoholic parent so they can adjust their own behavior accordingly.
Kid raised by alcoholic parents can be very perceptive about the emotions of others, and they use this perceptiveness to protect themselves in an alcoholic home. By second-guessing what the parent is feeling, kids can take actions to avoid angry outbursts and emotional thunderstorms. Children of addicts cover up their real feelings and pretend everything is fine so as not to upset the applecart. On the inside, however, they usually feel very insecure because of the constant uncertainty. The home may be chaotic, and some alcoholic parents become so violent that the kids are in danger.
Do Children Of Alcoholics Take On The Burden Of Responsibility?
Children with substance abusing parents often have to step up at a very young age to help keep the home and family intact. Older children might have to care for younger siblings, prepare their own meals and keep the house clean. There are usually financial problems. The kids might have to explain to others why mommy and daddy didn’t show up for an important event or call employers to explain why mom or dad won’t be at work. Kids feel that they must cover up for their parents and keep the drinking a secret. The problem is that keeping substance abuse a secret will always makes the situation worse.
How Do Children Of Alcoholics Relate To Others?
Kids find different ways to cope with all the challenging emotions that come from living with a substance-abusing parent. Addiction can turn kids into control freaks who only feel secure while running the show. They may distrust adults, rebel against authority, and become aggressive. Other children might need constant approval and validation from others to feel lovable and worthwhile.
The effect of parental substance abuse on children is as harmful to kids as it is to their parents. Alcoholism is a family disease, and it takes a heavy toll on everyone, especially children.