Parental alcoholism is an issue that many of us face. Maybe you had a mother, or father, who drank too much. It might not have ever been a largely negative experience for you— or maybe it was. Whether violent, absent, or merely passed out on the couch… Parental alcoholism can have long-lasting effects on the children who are dealing with it. Therefore, we’re going to explore this issue, and what makes it so difficult to deal with for the children in the equation… 

Parental Alcoholism: Effects on Children 

One of the largest issues with parental alcoholism, is the way it normalizes alcoholic behaviors. You see drinking, heavily, every single day. In fact, you probably see someone who spends the majority of their day with a bottle in hand. Therefore, the idea that this is wrong can be particularly problematic for those who surround it. We often follow the traditions that our family has set forth. This can mean Christmas tree shopping together, Easter egg hunts, and even just heavy drinking. Tradition looks different to every family, and every person. While you might not realize it, the rituals you take part in every day— can become normalized, and natural to your children. 


Depending on how the parental alcoholism looked in your home, it can bring about trust issues for the children involved. Maybe you lied about being drunk; Maybe you disappeared for hours on end when you went to get milk, or never showed up for that school event. No matter the instance, these issues (and similar ones) can make it difficult for children to trust in their relationships. Furthermore, it can make developing relationships, gaining trust, and finding dependence extremely difficult. 

Seeking approval 

Depending on the age and mindset of your child— parental alcoholism can lead to children developing approval-seeking behaviors. Younger children tend to see their parents through rose-colored glasses. The parent is exhibiting dangerous behavior. However, the child will likely still do everything they can to gain love and affection. Therefore, later in life, they might keep those same habits with partners, job, etc. 

Ultimately, parental alcoholism develops a number of habits in the children who are party to it. Your children might become resentful, unable to trust, abuse alcohol themselves, or despise it. The aftermath of your relationship with alcohol can make it difficult for your child to develop a healthy one of their own.