This concept of the Adult Child refers to people who grew up in families that experienced difficulty, stress or dysfunction and the children display certain traits as adults. The term Adult Child speaks to us having to grow up too fast and become adults too soon.
One trait is many Adult Children lose themselves in their relationships with others, sometimes finding themselves attracted to alcoholics or other compulsive personalities, such as workaholics or those who are emotionally unavailable.
Adult Children may also form relationships with others who need their help or need to be rescued, to the extent of neglecting their own needs. If they place the focus on the overwhelming needs of someone else, they don't have to look at their own difficulties and shortcomings.
Adult Children can identify with many (if not all) of the 14 characteristics below. This list of common traits is affectionately known as the “Laundry List”.
THE LAUNDRY LIST:
1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
4. We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfil our abandonment fears.
5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults.
7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
8. We become addicted to excitement.
9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue”.
10. We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much.
11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with people who were never there emotionally for us.
13. Alcoholism is a family disease and we can became addictive ourselves and take on the characteristics of the disease even if we do not pick up the drink.
14. Being addictive we become reactive rather than proactive.