What is it like to have an alcoholic father?

If you are the child of an alcoholic father, then you already know how difficult life can be at home. Even if you are older and out of the house, having an alcoholic for a father was likely a devastating thing to grow up with. Alcoholism is a huge problem in this country; in fact, about 18 million Americans are dealing with some type of alcohol use disorder. The effects of alcoholism are often felt more strongly by the people that are close to the alcoholic, namely their kids. Growing up with an alcoholic father can have both short-term and long-term consequences on a child.

What is it like to have an alcoholic father? Let’s keep going to find out more.

The Daily Life of a Child Living With an Alcoholic

Many children grow up not knowing what is “normal” when they live with an alcoholic parent. They can only guess what is normal since they never get to experience it themselves. Children of alcoholics very often end up with major trust issues. Many alcoholic parents constantly break promises to their kids, both small ones and large ones. Not being able to trust their own parent then leads to trust issues with others as they grow older.

Trust issues as a child will also lead to problems with relationships in the future. Many children of alcoholics aren’t able to forge meaningful relationships with another adult because they don’t know how to trust anyone. This trauma often causes children to develop their own problems with alcohol or substances later on in life.

Searching for Approval

When children are forced to live and deal with their alcoholic father, they often subconsciously seek out approval and attention from other adults in their lives, such as teachers or coaches. Unfortunately, they often fall into an abusive or manipulative relationship because they do not know how a real relationship should work. Children of alcoholics are often easily manipulated and gullible. They are often easily taken advantage of when they start seeking what they need from other adults because they don’t understand how to function within a normal relationship.

Role Reversal

Children of alcoholic fathers often experience a kind of role reversal in their home life. Instead of their father taking care of them, the child often has to “parent” their father instead. They may need to clean up messes made while their father was under the influence or take care of meals when he is too hungover to cook. Many children take on the role of the parent when there is an alcoholic parent in the picture, causing them to be robbed of the traditional childhood experience.


Many children of alcoholic fathers often try to take the blame themselves. They think that if they were just different in some way then their father would not need to drink as much. Some alcoholic fathers may also berate and abuse their children, making the feelings of guilt even stronger. Children very often come to the wrong conclusion as they try to deal with an alcoholic parent.


Being the child of an alcoholic father can lead to a lot of embarrassing situations. A child may stop inviting friends over because they are unsure what their father is going to do when they drink. In some extreme cases, fathers have shown up to sports or school activities while under the influence, causing a scene and embarrassing their child even further.

Anxiety and Confusion

Children living with an alcoholic parent often have anxiety issues that require professional help. Living with a father who abuses alcohol will lead to unpredictable actions and uncertain situations. Not knowing what will happen from day to day can cause a lot of anxiety problems for the child. These issues often lead to poor schoolwork and grades. Alcoholism also leads to a great deal of confusion, especially when mealtimes and bedtimes are often unpredictable. The child may have no idea when they are going to eat again or if there will even be food in the house.


Anger is a defense mechanism that many children take on when they live with their alcoholic fathers. It’s often easier to be angry about the situation than to try and understand it. The child doesn’t know how to internalize their emotions concerning the situation, so they end up just being angry a lot of the time.

Rehab Can Help

Rehab can help a person who is addicted to alcohol. We’re ready to help you in any way that we can! Call or stop in to find out what we offer. You can always reach us at 614-705-0611. When alcohol is destroying your life, we’re the answer.