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Children of Alcoholics Children of Alcoholics. How do they cope with their parent s problem? Howdoes 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 ofan 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 asperception of family, whether positive or negative, are what effect a child s overall viewand level of satisfaction of life. However, alcoholism plays an important role in thepossibility of causing family problems and in turn effecting the child s perception. Thecoping strategies or survival roles that the children develop to deal with their alcoholicparent, 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 somechildren are more resilient than others (paragraph 4). Being able to cope with theparent s alcoholism has been linked to a positive perception of the family. There arethree 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 dealswith how often a child feels close to one or both of the parents and how often the child iscomforted by them. Deliberateness deals with consistency and consistently makingplans to do things and setting goals together and the amount in which these plans arefollowed through. Negative family variables predict low life satisfaction and potentialminor 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 familymembers are striving to accommodate the drinking parent and restore balance throughmodifying their own behavior (paragraph 6). There are a five different types of behaviorsthat 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 tryto be the ideal child and they feel responsible for the alcoholic. These children tend to bemore responsible and are perfectionists. On the other hand, the lost child contrastinglydetaches 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 defiantbehaviors. The placetor usually takes on the role of the understanding mediator. Theyare 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 thetension that may be caused by the alcoholic parent. Whether these coping mechanisms are or are not detrimental to the overallwell-being of the child is disputable. Some researchers say that these strategies arenegative in the long run. Others say that they can be positive. Specifically the role of theresponsible child and the role of the role of the placetor. These kinds of behaviors arefound in cohesive families. A study was conducted in order to understand the effects of family variables andcoping roles on children of alcoholics. The study had three major goals. The first is toexplain the contribution of parental drinking and family relationship variables tochildren s well-being in terms of significant or non-significant main effects. The secondgoal is to identify which, if any, of the family variables protect children from alcoholichomes; 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). Thestudy had a total sample of 112 participants with a mean age of 16.62. Certainapproaches 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; Pilat & Jones, 1985) which determinedwhether or not the subject had an alcoholic parent. The next part of the test measuredfamily cohesiveness, family deliberateness and parent-child intimacy. The third part ofthe experiment tested for the survival role most attributable to the subject. Next aGeneral Health Questionnaire was given to determine the general mental well-being andlevel of life satisfaction among the subjects. Lastly, the experiment looked forinformation on things such as age, sex, and student and employment status. The study came up with many conclusions that were statistically significant. Firstof all, parental drinking and family support are negatively correlated. This proves thatthough just being a child of an alcoholic may not necessarily cause minor psychiatricsymptoms and low life satisfaction, it does cause low family relationship variables whichdo cause the symptoms and lack of satisfaction. The study also shows that alcoholicfamilies with family support had children with higher levels of life satisfaction thanchildren of alcoholics without family support. This shows that lack of family support isthe factor that is detrimental to mental health. The effects that alcoholism has on generalmental health appears to work through the family variables, with low family supportbeing associated with high minor psychiatric symptoms (paragraph 25). Thisfurthermore illustrates the point that alcoholism is an additional factor that combinedwith low family support causes negative life consequences rather than just alcoholismbeing the sole cause. The study also found that the five survival roles did not benefit thechildren of alcoholics. In fact, three of the five roles, the mascot, the lost child and theacting-out child had negative effects and these were associated with psychiatricsymptoms. The remaining two roles, the responsible child and the placater did not effectthe overall situation in children of alcoholics. The objective of this study was to determine the existence of a connectionbetween 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 unsupportive family is a more probable cause to this. Nonetheless,there is a correlation between alcoholism and low family support. Alcoholism addsstressors to family situations and this makes it likely to be both a child of an alcoholicand have low family support. Therefore, being a child of an alcoholic makes yoususceptible to psychiatry symptoms. What causes some children of alcoholics to be able to avoid any psychiatryproblems 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, theparents shield the child from the reality of the drinking problem. The child is not madeaware that the parent has a problem in one way or another, such as keeping the childaway in times which the problem would be apparent. Another way is to offer the childemotional support. These tactics all relate to family variables though. They require acloseness 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 arechildren of alcoholics that are not harmed in these ways by this experience. This is dueto other variables such as family relationship variables. If these variables are positivethan the chance of having low life satisfaction and/or minor psychiatry symptoms are lowwhether you are a child of an alcoholic or not. Another determining factor is the possibleformation of survival roles. If formed, the roles of the responsible child and the placaterchild have no effect on life satisfaction level or psychiatry symptoms. But the three otherroles, mascot, lost child and acting-out do cause minor psychiatry problems. It is thesefactors 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 ofthese variables ultimately just effect the child s perception of the situation. It is thisperception 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

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