Growing up with an alcoholic parent: the consequences on a child.

When a child grows up with an alcoholic parent, there are significant consequences. “That child will need support, love and understanding to lead a happy life. Unfortunately, alcoholism is increasingly frequent in families. But what to do when a child is growing up with an alcoholic mother?” (Terry Pomerantz)

Understanding the impact of a parent’s alcoholism

When a mother or father suffers from alcohol problems, the whole family suffers with them. Parental alcoholism brings with it major risks for the children in that environment, who can suffer from a complex range of behavioural issues (exteriorized issues) and emotional issues (interiorized issues).

Emotional and psychological consequences

Several well-documented studies show that children with alcoholic parents have a higher rate of emotional issues and behavioural issues.

Exteriorized behavioural issues

Among the different behavioural issues that are the most exteriorized with children, experts name:

  • Difficult temperament
  • Hyperactivity
  • Problems with impulse control
  • Agressivity
  • Oppositional defiance disorder

Interiorized issues

These children also show emotional and psychological issues, such as:

  • A low self esteem compared to children with non-alcoholic parents
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Depression
  • Underachieving at school
  • Cognitive difficulties when applying classic IQ measurements
  • Tendency toward taking drugs and alcohol
View of an alcoholic mother with her child looking after herself

Trouble with interpersonal relationships

Parental alcoholism has a significant impact on children’s relationships with their peers. In fact, these children will tend to be more aggressive, hyperactive and oppositional with the other children and the adults with whom they are in contact. In social interactions, they will tend to be withdrawn and often rejected by other children.

These relationship issues caused by parental alcoholism will lead these children to persistent issues with depression and tendencies toward delinquency.

Academic performance and social success

Children who live with an alcoholic mother or father often underachieve at school.

In school, they often are victims of bullying and any other kind of abuse. Their levels of anxiety can even lead to trouble expressing themselves, stuttering and nervous tics. These problems also negatively impact their already low self-esteem, leading them to isolate even more and become increasingly aggressive.

View of an alcoholic father and his two children

Strategies to adapt and heal

Would you like to help an alcoholic parent?

  • Encourage them to talk.
  • Listen without giving advice. Avoid rebukes.
  • Always treat them with respect.
  • Encourage their efforts. Show them you believe in them.
  • Always treat them with empathy. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
  • Ask for help.
  • Set clear boundaries as to what you are capable of handling.

Access to advice and therapeutic services for alcoholic people

Access to advice and therapeutic services for children and their families

Pomerantz Foundation

The Pomerantz Foundation speaks up about children who are different. The Foundation, lead by Terry Pomerantz, wishes to do everything that is humanely possible to help children integrate society and live their lives with dignity.

“When you give to the Pomerantz Foundation, you help all children live with dignity and pride.” (Terry Pomerantz)

Entrepreneur and prominent figure in Montreal's real estate and manufacturing sectors, Terry Pomerantz approaches every aspect of life with heart and character. At the helm of Domfoam and T.R.A.M.S Property Management, he carries on his late father's legacy while dedicating his philanthropic commitment to the Pomerantz Foundation, which has been actively supporting children's causes since 1991.