On Having an Alcoholic Parent

It is always difficult to watch a loved one spiral down into a world of alcoholism, but it can be even more difficult if that loved one is a parent. Generally, children look up to their parents as role models and see them as the pillars of the family. So when a parent starts to show signs of alcohol abuse, it can be hard on the child, and the rest of the family as well, because the person who used to be the foundation of the family is no longer capable of controlling themselves, therefore resulting in an unstable, familial environment.

The Effect of an Alcoholic Parent on the Child

Trying to reach out to the parent can prove to be extremely difficult, because along with the alcoholic’s typical habit of making excuses for their drinking, the parent also still sees themselves as holding a higher position over their child, even if that child is well into adulthood. Because of this, if the child tries to express their feelings towards the parent’s alcoholism, it is possible that the parent will shut the child down, rather than listen.

This struggle over dealing with alcohol abuse can have a negative effect on the relationship between the parent and the child. If the child is having to consistently take care of a drunk parent and worry over his/her safety, eventually the child could begin to resent the parent. This resentment can lead to the loss of the respect they once had for their mother or father, as the child has now seen their parent in a state of total irresponsibility.

The Effect of an Alcoholic Parent on the Family

Often, the alcoholic parent can also try to hide his/her alcoholism from their family because they don’t want to set a bad example for the child. The danger of this is particularly unnerving because if the parent is a high-functioning alcoholic, meaning he/she is able to perform daily tasks while under the influence of alcohol, the possibility for an accident is greater, as no one is aware of how bad the parent’s current state may be.

The parent’s alcohol abuse can also have an effect on the family financially, as most alcohol does not come cheap. It could be a nine-dollar bottle of wine here, or an eight-dollar six-pack there, but overtime, those expenses begin to add up. If financial stress is added to the household, it is likely that the parent’s drinking could worsen, to cope with the stress.

Alcoholism will also greatly affect the marriage of the two parents, especially if one is an alcoholic and the other is not. Arguments over drinking can often lead to other suspicions on the sober parent’s part. For instance, the sober parent might wonder if the alcoholic parent is lying about where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with, because it is no secret that drinking can lead to reckless behavior that the parent might not take part in if he/she were sober.

How to Get Help for the Alcoholic Parent

Though it can be difficult, the family should try and talk to the parent to let them know how his/her alcohol abuse is affecting the entire household. The family should also agree on getting the parent in question the proper help, like the services offered here at South Coast Counseling. With the correct attention, such as alcohol abuse treatment or alcohol rehab, the parent, and the family, could be well on their way to living a happy, healthy lifestyle once again.