Do You Know an Alcoholic Parent of a Teen?

Alcoholic mother

Drawing from “The Happy Introvert”by E. Wagele

Teens write personal stories about what it’s like to be their type, including such subjects as loneliness, conflicts, and keeping boundaries, in The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self.

The Enneagram is a respected system of 9 personality types that fosters self-observation and acceptance of self and others. Ennea means 9 in Greek while gram stands for a drawing; it’s is a circle with a star shape in the middle with 9 points, each one standing for a different personality type.

In the following excerpts, teens and former teens talk about having alcoholic parents:

  • A 1-Perfectionist rebels by doing whatever her alcoholic father is afraid she might do. Perfectionists are often good and obedient, but when they’re angry enough, they find ways to express it: “My father had a drinking problem. The only way he could relax was with alcohol. I couldn’t accept his enormous flaw. He was also judgmental, hypocritical, and anxious about me. When I made choices that pissed him off he would want to disown me. I was determined to do almost everything he was afraid I might do. I wouldn’t say I had a happy childhood. Only part of myself was engaged.” – Susan
  • A 2-Helper has a problem with her mother’s alcoholic partner. In order to keep harmony, she leaves when the partner is drunk: “During my adolescence my parents got divorced and my mother was in a relationship with another woman, an alcoholic. Kids would ask if she was a lesbian but I never asked my mother about it. I didn’t have the courage and didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. I tried not to upset the alcoholic when she was drunk and would spend those nights at friends’ houses. A boy would visit me and bring me candy. I found out years later that his mother was also a lesbian.” —Vicki
  • A 3-Achiever’s alcoholic father is abusive and insists on boxing matches with his son, who has no chance against his much larger father: “The police knew my father as a drunk they would escort home from the bar. [When he died] I was in shock. I didn’t like the emotion I was having—of deep relief. Ages 10 – 13 had been the worst—a blur of beatings. My father thought spankings were demeaning so he inflicted disciplinary boxing matches on me. He was incredibly strong, the Pacific Fleet Boxing Champion during World War II. I was small for my age. Dad was a mechanic, butcher, and singer in a nightclub. He had been beaten himself and had run away from his own family. He tried to make me a warrior and give me family discipline.” – Don  The Enneagram figure
  • A 9-Peace Seeker is upset by her alcoholic father but, typical for a 9, avoids conflict: “If I had known other kids also had alcoholic parents, life would have been easier. My father was an alcoholic. My mother was side-tracked and stressed out worrying about him. My grandparents helped me by just being there, and so did my aunts and uncles. I worried a lot about my home life and never wanted my mother to be asleep when I returned from school. Unlike me, my sister was defiant but I always made peace.” – Bev
  • Another 9-Peace Seeker doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, her father is an alcoholic: “My first seven years were like paradise. At seven my mother had a breakdown, however, and my father’s job that he was proud of ended. My mother was hospitalized when I was about ten. My father, a 5-Observer, was ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t talk about any of it. He was a drinker but I didn’t know it. At the time my parents were frustrated, angry, sorrowing, and tense. The atmosphere, which had been loving before, became a war zone.” – Naomi

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