Children of Alcoholics Children of Alcoholics. How do they cope with their parent s problem How does a child living with an alcoholic effect the outcome and personality of the child Is ita positive or negative effect Is there an effect at all It is thought that being a child of an alcoholic results in a low satisfaction of life and possible minor psychiatric symptoms. Nevertheless, studies show that this is not necessarily the case. In reality, things such as perception of family, whether positive or negative, are what effect a child s overall view and level of satisfaction of life.
However, alcoholism plays an important role in the possibility of causing family problems and in turn effecting the child s perception. The coping strategies or survival roles that the children develop to deal with their alcoholic parent, and other family relationship variables, also effect their future outlook on life. Along with alcoholism comes many variables that effect the ultimate result of thesituation. It is these various variables that lead to different effects of alcoholism indifferent situations.
Family characteristics have featured significantly in other accounts of why some children are more resilient than others (paragraph 4). Being able to cope with the parent s alcoholism has been linked to a positive perception of the family. There are three family variables that effect the relationship of a family. These are family cohesion, parent -child intimacy, and deliberateness.
Family cohesion refers to the togetherness of the family. It is in these sorts of situations that children report having more fun withthe family and also these families tend to have less conflict. Parent-child intimacy deals with how often a child feels close to one or both of the parents and how often the child is comforted by them. Deliberateness deals with consistency and consistently making plans to do things and setting goals together and the amount in which thes plans are followed through. Negative family variables predict low life satisfaction and potential minor psychiatric problems better than does being a child of an alcoholic.
Still, alcoholism also increases possibilities of negative family variables. Children of alcoholics often develop coping mechanisms to deal with theproblem. These coping strategies may be an alteration of behavior. Both Black (1979) and Wegscheider (1976) approach the alcoholic family as a system in which the family members are striving to accommodate the drinking parent and restore balance through modifying their own behavior (paragraph 6). There are a five different types of behaviors that result from this. They are the responsible child, the lost child, the acting-out child, the placetor and the mascot.
The responsible child takes on the role of an adult. They try to be the ideal child and they feel responsible for the alcoholic. These children tend to before responsible and are perfectionists. On the other hand, the lost child contrastingly detaches himself from the family as well as others in general.
They tend to ignore theproblem at home. The acting-out child turns to delinquency and engages in defiant behaviors. The placetor usually takes on the role of the understanding mediator. The yare more accepting and caring. The mascot uses humor as a means to cope with thesituation. Both the placetor and the mascot use their coping methods to decrease the tension that may be caused by the alcoholic parent.
Whether these coping mechanisms are or are not detrimental to the overall well-being of the child is disputable. Some researchers say that these strategies are negative in the long run. Others say that they can be positive. Specifically the role of the responsible child and the role of the role of the placetor.
These kinds of behaviors a refound in cohesive families. A study was conducted in order to understand the effects of family variables and coping roles on children of alcoholics. The study had three major goals. The first is to explain the contribution of parental drinking and family relationship variables to children s well-being in terms of significant or non-significant main effects. The second goal is to identify which, if any, of the family variables protect children from alcoholic homes; that is test for interactions between parental use and the family variables.
Third, to explore the extent that the survival roles lessen the likelihood of minor psychiatricsymptoms and low satisfaction in a threatening home environment (paragraph 10). The study had a total sample of 112 participants with a mean age of 16. 62. Certain approaches were taken in the sampling methodology in order to limit or eliminate bias.
The experiment included a questionnaire. The first part was a Children ofAlcoholics Screening Test (CAST) (Jones, 1982; Pil at & Jones, 1985) which determined whether or not the subject had an alcoholic parent. The next part of the test measured family cohesiveness, family deliberateness and parent-child intimacy. The third part ofthe experiment tested for the survival role most attributable to the subject. Next general Health Questionnaire was given to determine the general mental well-being and level of life satisfaction among the subjects.
Lastly, the experiment looked for information on things such as age, sex, and student and employment status. The study came up with many conclusions that were statistically significant. First of all, parental drinking and family support are negatively correlated. This proves that though just being a child of an alcoholic may not necessarily cause minor psychiatricsymptoms and low life satisfaction, it does cause low family relationship variables which do cause the symptoms and lack of satisfaction. The study also shows that alcoholic families with family support had children with higher levels of life satisfaction than children of alcoholics without family support. This shows that lack of family support is the factor that is detrimental to mental health.
The effects that alcoholism has on general mental health appears to work through the family variables, with low family support being associated with high minor psychiatric symptoms (paragraph 25). This furthermore illustrates the point that alcoholism is an additional factor that combined with low family support causes negative life consequences rather than just alcoholism being the sole cause. The study also found that the five survival roles did not benefit the children of alcoholics. In fact, three of the five roles, the mascot, the lost child and the acting-out child had negative effects and these were associated with psychiatricsymptoms.
The remaining two roles, the responsible child and the placater did not effect the overall situation in children of alcoholics. The objective of this study was to determine the existence of a connection between minor psychiatry symptoms and low life satisfaction and children of alcoholics. What can be drawn is that being a child of an alcoholic does not cause low lifesatisfaction. An un supportive family is a more probable cause to this. Nonetheless, there is a correlation between alcoholism and low family support. Alcoholism adds stressors to family situations and this makes it likely to be both a child of an alcoholic and have low family support.
Therefore, being a child of an alcoholic makes you susceptible to psychiatry symptoms. What causes some children of alcoholics to be able to avoid any psychiatry problems and achieve a high satisfaction of life deals with their perception of theproblem. A way in which this can be done is in a cohesive family. In this family, the parents shield the child from the reality of the drinking problem. The child is not made aware that the parent has a problem in one way or another, such as keeping the child away in times which the problem would be apparent. Another way is to offer the child emotional support.
These tactics all relate to family variables though. They require a closeness in the family (family cohesiveness), and comfort and emotional support from atleast one if the parents (parent-child intimacy). Being a child of an alcoholic is believed to be a direct cause of low lifesatisfaction and a cause of minor psychiatry symptoms. Yet there are those which are children of alcoholics that are not harmed in these ways by this experience.
This is due to other variables such as family relationship variables. If these variables are positive than the chance of having low life satisfaction and / or minor psychiatry symptoms are low whether you are a child of an alcoholic or not. Another determining factor is the possible formation of survival roles. If formed, the roles of the responsible child and the placater child have no effect on life satisfaction level or psychiatry symptoms. But the three other roles, mascot, lost child and acting-out do cause minor psychiatry problems. It is these factors that negatively effect children.
They do not only happen in cases of children ofalcoholics but alcoholic situations are a potential cause of these circumstances. All of these variables ultimately just effect the child s perception of the situation. It is this perception that is responded to and this perception that effects behavior of the children ofalcoholics. Work Cited Braithwaite, Valerie, and Devine, Cindy (1993). Life Satisfaction and Adjustment of Children of Alcoholics: The Effects of Parental Drinking, Family Disorganization, and Survival Roles. British Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 32, 417.