Flaschenkinder e.V. – Helping children of alcoholic parents

Flaschenkinder Iserlohn e.V. is a registered organization, and who we are, what we do and auch our aims are explained below.

Many years ago I had the idea to set up an organization which could provide help to children of alcoholic parents. At the same time people asked me if such an organization made any sense. I went ahead with my plans, and 14 years later I am still representing them 100%.

The situation with children where either one or both parents is an alcoholic is often

underestimated by society. Attention normally falls on those affected and their adult relatives, partner, parents and friends etc.

It is often assumed that children who grow up in such situations, do not always see or understand the role that alcohol can play. It has also been known for some time that infants have attuned themselves to the reactions of their mothers. Children’s development normally follows the behavioural patterns of their parents, who they

see as their role models. They take on the obligatory behavioural structure of their parents, which then develops into alcohol abuse and its associated conflicts.

Children experience the tensions and emotional highs and lows within the family, and as they have grown up in this environment, they do not see this behaviour as unusual. The development of a child from alcohol addicted families often changes when the child is first confronted with other social organizations, e.g. kindergarten, school etc, and sometimes it is noticeable that the behaviour of these children and their social background is different to that of children from “normal” family backgrounds.

Addiction therapy and prevention is all too concentrated on adolescents and adults, and in my opinion there is a shortage of contact partners who are able to help children deal with this problem, and in schools, teachers, tutors etc are rarely provided with the necessary resources to enable them to be more proactive.

Despite numerous advertising campaigns aimed at explaining that alcohol addiction is an illness, it is often regarded by society as a taboo subject.

Children often go beyond their own limits, often doing things which are anything but helpful for their further development. They cannot orientate themselves with the correct criterion and judge what is right or wrong. This is also not helped by the adults in their direct social environment, who are also unsure what to do.In extreme cases, children are sometimes drawn into a problem situation to offer advice as a valued member of the discussion group.

Sometimes consciously, sometimes not, but with disastrous effects for the child in either of these situations.

The feeling of safety and necessary security that a child requires for healthy development is no longer complete and sometimes not even guaranteed. The child feels the weaknesses and helplessness of its parents, and tries to compensate for these deficits.

Only in later life do the former child’s own deficits become known, and this is often very painful. Dysfunctional relationships, noticeable helper syndrome and other peculiarities which have developed create massive problems for this present day adult.

Regarding this text, my Flaschenkinder team and I are pushing for more openness and support for the children who have to grow up in such situations.

More helping hands are needed to reach out and help, as well as more awareness from those who are responsible for the well-being of children. Only then do I see a chance for our unlimited help being able to shorten the children’s suffering.

Kathrin Thielmann - Lange