Heal yourself of the pain from being raised by alcoholic parents while helping your children
The issues that alcoholism causes aren't limited to the person who suffers from the problem. The problem drinker also affects the people around him or her. Looking for a useful source to manage with recovery can help, but it doesn't always stop the problems that a child may face. Fortunately, if you understand how to help yourself, you'll be less likely to pass the pain from your childhood onto your children.
How Alcoholism Affects You as a Child
While you probably remember much of the trauma you felt as a child as you watched a parent drink constantly, it’s affected you more than you realize. Unfortunately, parents who are alcoholics can be abusive or may sexually abuse their children, as noted by a study published on the National Institutes of Health's site. This can cause an entirely different set of mental health issues that differ from just alcoholism alone.
Alcoholism can put a damper on a parent stepping up and providing for their child. For instance, there might not be any structure or consistency in the child's life, which a child needs to function normally, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children need to form a bond and develop trust, which is difficult when a parent who suffers from alcoholism doesn’t provide the safety and structure a child needs. It may also stem from parent's erratic behavior like mood changes and just not being emotionally available.
As a child, you may not have known what to expect day to day because of the erratic behavior of a drinking parent. Your parents may have fought. You might have suffered financially from a parent spending money on alcohol. You might have been left to fend for yourself much of the time, and your parents might not have fulfilled household duties on a regular basis. That kind of neglect affects a child on many levels, and often for many years.
While you as a child may have felt the horrors of having an alcoholic parent, that pain doesn't stop once you get older. You may spend much of your time as an adult trying to determine what normalcy is. You might not carry a problem through the entire way. You might also find it hard to have fun or you constantly judge yourself. You also may constantly seek approval or feel different from everyone else.
Prevent Passing Your Childhood Pain to Your Child
First and foremost, you want to avoid drinking as much as you can. While you may want to indulge in a glass of wine, limit yourself. Make it the exception, and not the rule. You're more at risk for an alcohol or drug abuse problem if you suffered through a parent who had a substance abuse problem.
In addition, you want to create structure for your child. Consistency is key in creating a stable home environment. Basically, keep rules the same, and create a routine with your child that you all follow each day. You want your child to be able to predict what he or she can expect with your behavior as well as how the household is run.
Additionally, follow through on what you say. If you tell your child they can't go to the movies later if they don’t clean their room, hold true to that. Your child needs to understand there are rules to obey and consequences if they aren’t. Moreover, you want to make sure your child understands the rules from the start, so he or she knows what to expect.
While you might find it difficult to have fun as an adult after the pain you went through, you want your child to develop a sense of joy in life. Therefore, you want to build memories of you and your child having fun.
Make sure you create an environment where your child can come and talk to you when he or she needs to, even if it's when your child does something negative.
If you feel overwhelmed with your emotions or struggle to heal from the pain you experienced, don't be afraid to reach out for professional help. Although it's difficult to forget every aspect of your traumatic childhood, you can find comfort in talking to someone who can help you resolve some of the pain you went through.
If you have any anxiety or depression caused by your childhood, get help for that as well. These unresolved issues can weigh heavily on your child.
Providing structure is important for your child, but you must also be sure to get the help you need. It’s important not just for your sake, but theirs.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.