I consider an “adult child” someone who was raised by child-like parents, insecure, needy, narcissistic parents; parents who were unable to assist their children in forming their own, independent sense of self during childhood.
Rather than nurturing their child’s sense of self, these parents used their child to attempt to uplift their own vulnerable ego. Ideally, every baby born into this world is surrounded by unselfish, patient love and nurturing from at least one or two parents.
It’s because we grew up in such unstable, inconsistent environments–we were, essentially, trained not to trust.
(Years ago, my father yelled at me, “There is no safety in the world, and no one deserves safety from this world.”) If you were to evaluate us based solely on our upbringing, you’d come to the conclusion that we were raised for battle–to be on-edge and ‘ready’ at all times for chaos to break.
This post describes what it’s like to grow up in an alcoholic family.
As the years go on, the baby raised in a stressful, inconsistent home environment develops a battle-ready Fight or Flight response, does not develop the natural ability to trust, and thrives on chaos simply because it’s so familiar.
Find out if the person you care for has done any self-improvement work to deal with their childhood, whether therapy, a twelve-step group, lots and lots of reading, or some other, structured, form of working through the problems that a childhood with an alcoholic parents creates.
If you’ve arrived here looking for the answer to the hard question, “Should I end my relationship?
Trust is Difficult for Us This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” deals. That’s not because you’re not trustworthy, by the way (though if your self-esteem is low, you may make the mistake of thinking our trust issues are about you).
I receive a lot of emails from people who are in a relationship with an adult child of alcoholics.
They are trying to understand the person they love, or are trying to love, but they don’t know how to decipher the code of adult children of alcoholics.
Don’t ever think you’re “wasting time” in a relationship–relationships are never wasted time, not if you’re actively attempting to enjoy your moments with another person.) Here are some things that I think make us great in spite of our chaotic childhoods. This makes us great listeners and really compassionate people.
We Have a Soft Core, But a Steel Wrapper We are extremely sensitive people and we are very sensitive to other people–all people, including strangers. The problem is, we often forget to honor our own feelings because we make the mistake of prioritizing the feelings of others first way too often.