How to Support Positive Adaptation Among Children of Alcoholics?

For years, children of alcoholics have been a focus of study for clinical psychologists.  This is due, on the one hand, to an unfortunately high incidence of alcoholism in modern society; and on the other hand, to the notably specific functioning of those families which suffer from alcohol problems. Our knowledge and understanding of the psychology of children of alcoholics is constantly increasing and improving. Today, we know that the offspring of parents addicted to alcohol are typically characterized by an increased tvulnerability to a variety of problems, and that genetic factors influence 40-60% of the variance of risk of alcoholism. However, it must be stressed that some children of alcoholics develop properly, going on to lead a satisfactory life free from mental disorders or issues.As early as half a century ago in the theoretical models of alcoholism studies there was a tendency to view the disorder, and its underlying causes, as a phenomenon essentially subject to the influence of one factor. The dominant view was the child of an alcoholic would inevitably exhibit many of the problems and symptoms of psychopathology. One of the key research aims that were posed in this study was to answer the question of whether the population of children of alcoholics can be differentiated according to different aspects of mental health. It turned out that although parental alcoholism clearly affects mental the mental health of young people, about 40% of them exhibit adequate levels of adaptation to the conditions of life.

In IwonaGrzegorzewska’s and MarzannaFarnicka’sresearch review from Team of Psychology at University of ZielonaGóra, published in Psychology, 2013 vol.4,no12 by Scientific Research Publishing.

The aim of the research was to describe the process of resilience in school children of alcoholics. It was important to show how risk and protective factors, personal resources and the social environment (within the family and without) determine the occurrence of positive adaptation. The research shows that resilient children of alcoholics are characterized by a specific system of individual predispositions and environmental factors. They are typically characterized by patterns of secure attachment with the mother. People who are healthy and well-adjusted tend to have a positive temperament, which at school age, manifests itself as low level of emotionality and shyness, and a high level of sociability and activity. The results of this study provide a basis for claiming a unique specificity of the process of resilience among children of parents with mental disorders. A key resource for these children, to help them function efficiently and effectively, and to cope with chronic stress appears to be their innate biological equipment in the form of a more positive temperament, and especially a greater ability to regulate their emotions. This can, in a way, allow such individuals to protect themselves against the negative effects of parental alcoholism.

It is worth noting that the results obtained in the study indicate the specific role of parents in shaping the psychological resilience of children of alcoholics. During school age, even despite strong relationships with peers, parental influence is a major factor in the most important aspects of adaptation. This and our previous research almost convinced, that the family remains the main venue of support and advice. Support from parents and good relationships with them, especially maternal, correspond to a higher index than the support that young people receive from their peers. The conclusions for practice indicate the essential role of parental relationship with children, and the importance of academic achievement during. Therefore, helping young students with problems in regards to school appears to be a real factor in the support that can be offered as part of prevention .

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