Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics


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Adult daughters of alcoholics-"perfect daughters" -operate from a base of harsh and limiting views of themselves and the world. Having learned that they must function perfectly in order to avoid unpleasant situations, these women often assume responsibility for the failures of others. They are drawn to chemically dependent men and are more likely to become addicted themselves.

More than just a text that identifies these behavior patterns, this book collects the thoughts, feelings and experiences of twelve hundred perfect daughters, offering readers an opportunity to explore their own life's dynamics and thereby heal and grow. This edition contains updated information throughout the text, and completely new material, including chapters on eating disorders and abuse letters from perfect daughters in various stages of recovery, and helpful, affirming suggestions from Dr. Ackerman at the end of every chapter. This book is essential for every one who found validation, hope, courage and support in the pages of the original Perfect Daughters, as well as new readers and every therapist who confronts these issues.

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Enter an Australian post code for delivery estimate. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Table of Contents Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Acknowledgments p. Letters from Perfect Daughters p. All Rights Reserved. From Chapter 2 - Home Groan: Daughters In Alcoholic Families Your Age Daughters who were born into an alcoholic family may have totally different perceptions and experiences than daughters whose parent s became alcoholic when they were fourteen.

The younger you were when your parent became alcoholic, the longer you were exposed to active alcoholism and the higher the probability that you were negatively affected. Additionally, your developmental stage of childhood might have influenced how you perceived alcoholism.

Perfect Daughters : Adult Daughters of Alcoholics by Robert J. Ackerman (2002, Paperback, Revised)

For example, a five-year-old sees only the behavioral effects of alcoholism, which she equates with drunken behavior. A fifteen-year-old can equate alcoholism not only with being drunk, but also with a variety of perceived motivations as to why the alcoholic drinks. Children do not automatically recognize that a parent is an alcoholic. As a matter of fact, many adult children will not accept even now that one or both of their parents is or was an alcoholic.

In childhood, recognizing that the parent has a drinking problem occurs in three stages. In the first stage, a child begins to realize that her house is different from that of her friends. However, just because families differ does not mean that something is wrong. During the second stage, the child begins to suspect that the differences between her home and other homes is something that should be covered up or denied because she doesn't want her friends to know.

In the third stage, the child becomes aware of what the difference is, which is that her parent drinks too much. Most daughters of alcoholics reach the third stage around age thirteen Ackerman, , which does not mean that the daughtertells anyone, but rather that she admits to herself that she knows what the problem is in her house.

After all, many adult daughters admit the alcoholism only as adults, long after their childhood has ended. Other factors influence the age at which daughters reach stage three. The gender of the alcoholic parent and whether one or two alcoholic parents were present are both contributing factors.

For example, most daughters of alcoholic fathers reach stage three when they are twelve years old. Approximately 60 percent of the adult daughters in this study had an alcoholic father only. Daughters of two alcoholic parents typically admit the drinking problems when they are approximately fourteen years old. Perhaps both parents did not become alcoholic at the same time, or if a daughter has two alcoholic parents, she did not have a nonalcoholic role model to compare her adults to. Therefore, realizing the inappropriate behaviors in one's parents may take longer because they were both doing the same thing and not until being exposed to other parental role models does a daughter begin to admit the differences.

Only 20 percent of the adult daughters studied had two alcoholic parents. Daughters of alcoholic mothers often do not reach stage three until they are almost nineteen, perhaps because women traditionally have developed alcohol problems at later ages than men, or the daughter wants to deny a drinking problem longer in her mother than in her father. Another reason could be that adult daughters of alcoholic mothers are much less likely to know someone else with an alcoholic mother since only 20 percent of adult daughters have an alcoholic mother only, as opposed to the 60 percent who have an alcoholic father.

Alcoholic Mothers, Alcoholic Fathers Are daughters of alcoholic mothers affected differently than daughters of alcoholic fathers? You may have entirely different memories, perceptions and experiences of your childhood depending upon the gender of your alcoholic parent. Additionally, if you had two alcoholic parents, the effects of the alcoholism of each one were probably not equally received; that is, you probably identified more with and were influenced more by the alcoholism in one parent than in the other, and experienced more positive or negative feelings from one than from the other.

The impact and feelings of adult daughters of alcoholic mothers and fathers are discussed more fully in later chapters. Contributing Others While you were growing up, did you have someone special whom you could share your feelings with about your family life? Perhaps the person was another relative, a best friend, teacher, neighbor or, in some cases, your nonalcoholic parent. If you had someone who cared about you and your problems, she or he made a contribution to your life by helping you with your feelings. This special person allowed you to share your family secret. You may not have solved anything together, but just being together with another person and believing that someone else cared about you and supported you was helpful.

Unfortunately, only 13 percent of adult daughters indicate that they had someone with whom they could share their feelings during their childhood. Those daughters who did have such a person in their lives were much less likely to seek treatment as adults than those who had no choice but to keep all of their emotions and feelings to themselves.

If you had such a friend, relative or confidante, as you proceed in your recovery from your childhood, you will realize how much she or he contributed to your life.


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I wish I could have had real parents. I've always wondered what it would have been like to have someone to care about me and to share my deepest hurts and secrets and successes with. Nancy Parenting Behaviors and Styles Although one or both of your parents were alcoholic while you were growing up, what kind of parent or parents were they? For example, how did the alcoholism affect the ability of the alcoholic to fulfill the parenting role?

On the other hand, how did the alcoholism in the family affect the ability of your nonalcoholic parent to fulfill the parenting role? Many adult daughters express that their strongest negative feelings about their childhood are more associated with how the alcoholic behaved toward them than with the actual drinking. In other words, the parenting that you received or didn't receive can affect your memories about your childhood more significantly than the drinking alone.

How much the alcoholic parent attempts to still try and be a parent can affect a child. You may have had a parent who made an effort to be an effective parent, but who was unable to break the addiction from alcohol. Not all parents, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, have the same behaviors or the same styles of parenting. Growing up with a parent who ignores you is different than living with one who tries to control you, regardless of their alcohol use.

Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughter of Alcoholics (Revised ed.)

We felt that our father really did love us; he just wasn't very good at it. He messed up everything he tried, but he did try. Carol Other daughters were convinced that their alcoholic parent would lie awake at night trying to think of what else they could do to upset their daughter! And when our father used to get us up in the middle of the night and march around the house singing ""Onward Christian Soldiers,"" it would be a school night and we would think that we should be able to sleep like normal kids.

And we'd say, ""Mom, please help us, come to our rescue,"" and she never did. Cathy Adult daughters indicate that the behavior that they remember most about their alcoholic parent is the verbal belligerence.


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This type of alcoholic parent is argumentative and verbally abusive, walking all over everyone's beliefs and self-esteem. Other daughters state that the alcoholic parent was offensive to them, including behaviors ranging from embarrassing them in front of friends, to physically or sexually abusing them.

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Thirty-one percent of adult daughters experienced physical abuse as children, 19 percent were victims of sexual abuse, and 38 percent witnessed spousal abuse in their families. These rates of abuse were three to four times higher than among women who were raised in nonalcoholic families. Daughters who experienced not only parental alcoholism but also abuse were affected more and differently than adult daughters of nonabusive alcoholics.

In my own recovery, I found that I slowly experienced and found ways to express anger at Dad for his various abusive rampages while he was drunk. The surprise was that I had seen my mother as a victim all those years and never held her responsible for the hell my brothers and I went through. Valerie Some adult daughters indicate that the alcoholic parent was passive and paid little attention to them or other members of the family. Other adult daughters state that the alcoholic pretended to be carefree, taking nothing seriously.


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  4. This approach might have been fine according to the alcoholic's thinking, but adult daughters adjusted to this pattern by taking everything in their lives seriously, perhaps too seriously. As you might suspect, verbal belligerence and offensive behaviors occur more among alcoholic parents than did passive and carefree behaviors.

    Additionally, daughters who experienced verbal attacks and abuse indicate far more negative effects than do the daughters of passive and carefree alcoholic parents. Your Perceptions Eighty percent of adult daughters perceive that having an alcoholic parent highly affected their lives. Twelve percent indicate that they were moderately affected, and 8 percent believe that they were unaffected.

    Adult Children of Alcoholics-The Pain We Deny Is Killing Us

    What is the source of their perceptions?

    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
    Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition): Adult Daughters of Alcoholics

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