What’s it like to be the daughter of an alcoholic father and is it any different to being a partner or other family member?
In my experience as the daughter of an alcoholic father, there is a big difference in being a child of an alcoholic than being a partner to one. The rest of the differences, are dependant on each person and their environment.
Being daughter of an alcoholic father I longed for my fathers affection. Hoping he’d give me the attention I was craving. I suppose the time I really miss him is now. He died two months before my 21st birthday and as I got older, I didn’t have the inclination to help.
It’s only now I reflect on growing up with an alcoholic father that I realise how much I miss him, I miss having a Dad to do silly things like fix my car, be there to give me his opinion, meet my friends and just do things together.
I’ve spoken to other daughters of alcoholic fathers and our experiences really vary. Some were treated like a princess and had a great relationship with their Dad’s. Some rarely if ever saw their father drink. Others experience emotional and physical trauma.
The Main Differences Of Being A Daughter Of An Alcoholic Father vs A Partner To An Alcoholic
It’s taken me a while but finally I figured it out. If you imagine someone growing up in a relatively “normal” (I use that word loosely) home, with supportive parents, learning about boundaries, self-care, how to self-soothe, feeling safe and encouraged. They’d probably be fairly well rounded individuals, give or take.
So imagine another individual that doesn’t get that sort of experience. A daughter of an alcoholic father than has little to no support. They are rarely encouraged, and don’t get taught how to self-soothe. You learn your needs are not important. You wouldn’t learn about boundaries because, in an alcoholic home they’re blurred. Compromising yourself is common place.
Back to my point about the differences. As a partner that has a healthy upbringing, they know right from wrong, they know about boundaries etc. As a child of an alcoholic, you don’t learn that. So your relationship with the alcoholic is different. That said, often it’s likely that partners of alcoholics are children of alcoholics themselves.
The experience by both parties is different, children can’t just decide to leave the environment, adults can. I appreciate it’s not always an easy choice, but the choice is there. You don’t have the capacity to understand things as a child the way a partner would. Sometimes you are protected as a child and have little to no control in the home. The partner has control and is exposed to everything going on, that can be good and bad.
Everyone living in an alcoholic home plays a role and I outline a bit about this below.
The Roles In Homes of Alcoholism
This is a great diagram showing the different roles played out in the alcoholic family home. You can be more than one role and move from one to another over time and in an instant. Often people aren’t aware they play out these roles, nonetheless, they do. Often the partner is the enabler, trying to hide the consequences of the alcoholics actions. As a daughter of an alcoholic father I was the lost child, scapegoat and at times the mascot.
I wrote about these roles in more detail in a previous post. Click here to read more.
As I said everyone has their own experience of growing up with an alcoholic father. The impact of this on your adult life can be huge. I can say that it’s had a huge impact on my life. I’ve invested a lot in myself, because I felt there was more to life that what I had. You might be interested to read about the 14 typical characteristics here, see which ones you identify with.