This week, Imagine Hope Counseling Group is discussing signs of Adult Children of Alcoholics— otherwise known as Adult Children of Dysfunction. So far, we have some insightful descriptions. Here are some additional signs:
- You are super responsible or super irresponsible. Children that have to "grow up" too fast (who aren't allowed to consistently be a child, due to a chaotic, unsafe or dysfunctional family system throughout their childhood), learn that they have to take care of themselves and can't depend on other's to be there for them. This can cause hyper-responsibility, or difficulty "letting go" and having fun. The opposite can also occur, where a person tries to re-experience the loss of their childhood in their adult years, becoming irresponsible. Irresponsibility can also stem from not having good role models for what it means to be a responsible adult.
- You are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. Children who grow up in families that experience betrayal can learn to become secret keepers or protectors. Because they don't learn healthy boundaries for inappropriate treatment and respect from others in intimate relationships, they often learn to deny their own experiences and allow harmful behavior as adults.
- You are impulsive. Emotional regulation is learned in our childhood through healthy parenting on the part of our family. Children who grow up in dysfuctional family systems or addictive and chaotic homes with little discipline (or too rigid of discipline), may not learn healthy regulation of impulses and impulse control. This may come out in the form of destructive decision making, addictive behavior that puts you at risk for harm, excessive spending, relationship addiction, outbursts of rage, food addiction and compulsive overeating, excessive gambling, etc. Impulsiveness can emerge as a way to satisfy unmet emotional needs, or as a reaction to feelings that you might not have learned other ways of coping with.
Did you recognize any of the signs of being an adult child of dysfunction? If so, here are some additional resources to help you in your journey to healing:
Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz
Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz
An Adult Child's Guide to What's "Normal" by John and Linda Friel
Perfect Daughters; Adult Daughters of Alcoholics by Robert Ackerman, Ph. D.
Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.