|Adult Children of Alcoholic
In the dysfunctional family system, roles
limit psycho-social development
because individuality is discouraged:
“What you are” becomes more important
than “who you are”
Each family member’s personality is
shaped by the dictation of the family
system, and not through the
individual’s own needs, feelings,
temperament and choices.
Dysfunctional family member’s
perception of themselves, their family
and their world is colored by the role
the family system has bestowed upon them.
ROLES: the effects of Dysfunction
and Dysfunctional families are
devastating to the child/children
born into it (also see "Inner Child").
These effects will last throughout their
lives (some can be minimized and will
not necessarily have major negative
residual effects). Unfortunately, that
is not so for the Lost Child role.
Children in dysfunctional families
adopt these roles as a means of
coping with the day-to-day
chaos of family life.
If you grew up in a dysfunctional family
home, you most likely adopted one
or more of the roles below.
|They are defensive, adaptive and "normal" reactions to severe dysfunction
(especially from alcohol) - that become dysfunctional also (this means,
they begin to interfere with leading a functional, successfully satisfying life).
These are not psychiatric categories or classifications.
* The Lost Child * The Ghost * The Adjuster Children
* The Responsible Child * The Family Hero * The Good Child
* The Rebel * The Problem Child * The Acting-Out Child
* The Family Jerk * The Scapegoat * The Rescuer
* The Placater * The Mascot * The Caretaker
* The Clown * The Fixer * The Bully
* The Last Hope
Dysfunction & Roles - "Causes"
A dysfunctional family system is a family in which one or both of the
primary caretakers were unable to fulfill their family responsibilities
- or simply didn't do it; or one in which physical, emotional, or sexual
abuse was experienced. These children did the best they could,
given the circumstances; this is an important thing to remember.
Each role is a recognizable separate behaviour pattern or strategy. Adult
children will find it difficult to act outside of the family roles they have
adopted, for hidden inside, the child feels shame, guilt and in crisis, and
they often avoid expressing any feelings.
The family roles in dysfunctional families are not chosen but adopted
by children of dysfunctional families as a means of survival. This is
particularly evident during times of stress. The “taking on a role” is
an unconscious act – it is not deliberate. These roles are played
right through adulthood: they are part of our learning process.
They are products of our environment (family, community & culture)
|Walk with Me
Through darkened rooms we'll climb
Past covered dust-filled sculptures in the night
With hand in Mine we'll fight the shadows left behind
Till all that's hid within is brought to light
Nor tremble at the sights which you have seen
For if in Me you trust with all your heart
Then all the times of sorrow I'll redeem.
|Adult Children, including the Lost Child,
learn to be consummate actors/actresses
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, Nova Scotia 2010: revised 2019
|As stated, each of the behaviour patterns, and the personality types
that develop, has special needs - and each type can recover if they
are willing. Roles are behaviour patterns that were learned
– and which can be changed.
PLEASE NOTE: in many ways all Adult Children's traits and behaviours
are a type of "Adult Children Of Alcoholics/Dysfunction" behaviours in
general. Few people have all the traits of any of them - and sometimes
they have a blend of more than one role. Each of the personality types/
roles has special needs - and each type can recover if they are willing to
take the risk in believing they can change and heal.
This includes all Adult Children.
The information here refers to Personality Types: it describes the
traits, behaviour patterns and coping strategies of a particular
child victim (who became an adult child) from a sick, dysfunctional
(alcoholic) family. The child did the best it could, with what it knew,
what it had and the circumstances it found itself in - it is not to blame.
It is not an illness someone gets - it is a survival/coping
strategy: it is a normal reaction to severe dysfunction - it became
dysfunctional also (meaning it began to interfere with leading a
functional, successful and satisfying life). They lost their inner
integration of Mind, Emotions And Spirit, leaving these unconnected
and in tatters - bits and pieces. It is a form of dis-integration - BUT
- in a way where re-assembly is entirely possible!
It can lead to Dissociation
|It can be overcome - Healing and recovery are entirely possible through
coaching/counselling. (The Lost Child definitely will require intensive
counselling/therapy, and working with Lost Child victims is my
The “roles” (personality types) that emerge for children in their attempts to
make sense of the chaos: the personality types are: The Major victim is
The LOST Child (The Lost Child, is also called The Ghost & The Doormat
and very similar to the Last Hope Child) are collectively called the
Adjuster Child/Children. The Lost Child is the most wounded inner child
of all. I have devoted an entire separate page to that role. Also see
"Inner Critic" and "Inner Child - Child Within"
NOTE: The descriptions here are the categories: most people will not
display all the characteristics - some may, while some will appear to
have a blend of these. Remember that these are descriptions, not
definitive, etched-in-stone categories. As well, some people will display
characteristics of more than one of the "roles" - each person develops
their own personal coping style.
|Coping ROLES are Survival Strategies:
Adult Children of Dysfunctional Toxic Families/Relationships - negative strategies.
Roles are primarily behaviour patterns people have, which were developed in
childhood as coping and survival strategies in dysfunctional circumstances.
While they are not illnesses or disorders, they do lead
to problematical or dysfunctional lives for them.
|Your family role can define who you are, how you relate to people,
how they relate to you and influence every aspect of your life. People
who are able to identify the role they played in their family have a
powerful tool for changing their lives and improving their relationships.
Family roles can be as varied and as individual as families are. A family
may have "the sick one", "the peacekeeper", "the athlete", "the gifted one",
"the victim", "the genius" or any other role you can think of.
This page the roles: the detailed descriptions are found on separate pages;
all but one are found in Roles. The most severely affected child and
the associated behaviour pattern is described on a
separate page, "The Lost Child”.
The Adult Children's Roles are mostly behaviour patterns people
have acquired or developed, that began as coping strategies and
became a way of life. The behaviours can be changed and new
behaviours learned, behaviours and life skills that will improve the
quality of their lives, on their terms - not anyone else's!
|"As long as you keep thinking that it is not your fault (how you feel now);
that something else must change, you will continue to feel helpless and
powerless. By continuing to play the victim, you will be totally
at the mercy of your environment." -Unknown
|LOVE is caring about the freedom of the other.
If parents really care about their child,
they want him or her to be free to enjoy life.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside Assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman M.A © 2007-2019
Questions and comments welcomed.
|Children of Dysfunctional/Alcoholic Families Coping Strategies
Children Roles - An Introduction
Adaptive Coping & Survival Strategies