Think back. During your childhood days, were you a witness to alcoholism episodes in your family? Specifically, was your father given to drinking more often than what is considered acceptable? Then, chances are - researchers say - that you were at the receiving end of some very harsh behavior and ineffective parenting. Chances are that the quality of interaction between your father and you was lower than what is required for a child's normal emotional nourishment.
Alcoholism in fathers has been found to coexist with specifically two forms of concomitant psychopathology: antisocial behavior and depression. Ergo, fathers who binge on alcohol suffer from some degree of depression, and at the same time are also not at ease with their neighbors, with friends, with colleagues and superiors at the workplace, and with the world at large. Such fathers are known to pick up a fight on the slightest pretext. In the context of parenting, these psychopathologies imply that such fathers find low level of pleasure in the task of showering love and affection on the bundles of joy sired by them. Love and affection? What love and affection? Their approach is one of hostility and downright abusive behavior which can take on both verbal and physical forms towards the child.
The problem does not stop here. Alcoholism, as we all know, encompasses aggression, conflict and violence with the partner. If you have grown up in a home - or been witness to a home in the neighborhood as a child - where the father and mother would lung for each other's throat every other evening, you have been an eye-witness to the effect alcoholism has on a family's environment. The psychopathology of anti-sociality rouses the trait of anger in the man, which brings out the brute hidden in him.
While some fathers may reject the child outright, others indulge in over-reactive discipline, believing that the only way to rear the child is through a regimen which is so strict that it would put the concentration camp regulators to shame. Is it any wonder then, if the child frequently urinates during sleep from nightmares where they frequently see the father's gnashing of teeth, his contorted face, the harsh tone of his voice and the menacing body language? The negative comments, the physical lashing, the commanding demeanor and the strict prohibitions are not skills that the father has to go join some despot's military academy to learn; instead, these are innate talents that apparently blossom forth the moment they learn that they have become a parent.
On the way to growing to become an adult, the child's adaptation skills are tempered by this very important interpersonal relationship dimension. The bedwetting is overcome eventually, but it is replaced by even more severe behavioral problems. Depending on the individual's innate temperament, they either withdraw into a shell, or try to exact revenge against the father-figures who come into their life. Dig deep into the psyche of the maladjusted individuals who end up in all the wrong places, and you will find a damaged self-concept and a battered self-pride at the core, crying to be healed.
Why is there a problem with paternal attitudes towards children alone? Why not maternal? It has been observed that fathers bingeing on alcohol are the more susceptible of the two to fall in the triple hell of alcohol-related disorders, antisocial behavior and depression, that's why.
As counselor / self-developer, know that there is a battery of CBTs now available to address the core issue of alcoholism. The site where this blog is hosted has some excellent self-hypnosis CDs on this issue.
[Child-rearing does not happen automatically. As parents, after bringing them into this world, we do not automatically become experts on children. We need to consciously teach ourselves on how to raise them. The child looks upon us as the ultimate authority on everything, so every word we utter, every emotion we express overtly and covertly, has a profound impact that molds the child's view of the world as well as their view of themselves. Even our supposedly-innocent warning to the child about the ill-effect of lying can create a negative impact. "Every time you lie, your nose will grow!" Here is an article that talks about this and other aspects of raising the child: "Pinocchio, Everything's Fine With Your Nose".]