Adult Children of Family Dysfunction (ACFD)

Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in a troubled household (i.e. homes where there was alcoholism, addiction, mental, physical or emotional abuse, rage, etc.).

Some of us had come to feel isolated, uneasy with other people, and especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same, we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.

Some of us developed addictions ourselves or married addicts or both. Failing that, we found another compulsive personality, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.

Many of us lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over-developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We somehow got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.

We were dependent personalities --terrified of abandonment--willing to do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships, maybe because they matched our childhood relationship with dysfunctional parents.

These symptoms of the troubled family made us "co-victims"--those who take on the characteristics of the problem without necessarily ever having the addiction. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self-defeating, some of us became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships.

This is a description, not an indictment.

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Among Adult Children of Family Dysfunction (ACFD)

The following are some of the characteristics that result in problems in our lives. Not all of us have all of these traits, but most of us can relate to many of them.

THE SOLUTION is to become your own loving parent.

As the share group becomes a safe place for you, you will find the freedom to express all the hurts and fears you have kept inside and to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. You will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself.

The healing begins when we risk moving out of isolation. Feelings and buried memories will return. By gradually releasing the burden of unexpressed grief, we slowly move out of the past. We learn to reparent ourselves with gentleness, humor, love and respect.

This process allows us to see our biological parents as the instruments of our existence. Our actual parent is the Higher Power, Jesus Christ. Although we had dysfunctional parents, our Higher Power gave us the 8 Principles of Recovery.

This is the action and work that heals us: we use the Steps, we use the meetings and we use the telephone. We share our experience, strength and hope with each other. We learn to restructure our sick thinking one day at a time. When we release our parents from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as actors, not reactors. We progress from hurting to healing to helping. We awaken to a sense of wholeness we never knew was possible.

By attending these meetings on a regular basis, you will come to see parental alcoholism/addiction for what it is and how it affected you as a child, and continues to affect you as and adult. You will learn to keep the focus on yourself in the here and now. You will take responsibility for your own life and supply your own parenting.

You will not do this alone. Look around you and you will see others who know how you feel. We will love and encourage you no matter what. We ask you to accept us just as we accept you.

This is a spiritual program based on action coming from love. We are sure that as the love grows inside you, you will see beautiful changes in all your relationships, especially with God, yourself and your parents.


Celebrate Recovery meets every Friday night at River Valley Christian Fellowship Church in Bourbonnais.

©Celebrate Recovery