How to Forgive an Alcoholic Parent

From parental substance abuse statistics, we know that when a parent is an alcoholic or a drug addict, the children suffer. If you had an alcoholic parent, learning to forgive isn’t easy. Maybe you were abused verbally, emotionally or physically, or you were neglected. Maybe you had to take on more responsibilities than a child should, like caring for a younger sibling. It may also be that you simply didn’t get the attention, affection and love from your parent that is every child’s right. Whatever your experience was, learning how to forgive an alcoholic parent will empower you and bring you peace.

Know What Forgiveness Is

Most people don’t understand forgiveness. If you think it’s impossible to forgive your alcoholic parent after all that has happened, that may be because you don’t know what it means. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean forgetting what happened and it doesn’t require that the two of you reconcile. Forgiveness is personal. It’s something you do for you and your own well-being. You don’t even need your parent to apologize in order to forgive. You simply need to be willing to let go of the past that is still harming you.

Reflect on How Forgiving an Alcoholic Parent Will Help You

It can be hard to recognize how important forgiveness can be to the one giving it. If you have always thought that forgiveness was for the one who is being forgiven, you need some time and reflection on what this really means. Think about what harm your parent caused you and how it still affects you today. Think about how it would feel to let go of all the negative feelings associated with that hurt and to no longer be the victim of the situation.

Actively Choose to Forgive

Forgiveness is not something that just comes to you. Your parent’s substance use and abuse has far-reaching effects and without conscious effort you won’t ever be prepared to forgive. You must make a choice, actively, and then forgive your parent. You can tell him or her or keep it to yourself. The act of forgiving is just for you. Write it in a journal, say it aloud and think it every day until it sticks. Feel the tension, anger and grudges leave your life like a weight lifting from your shoulders. Of course, forgiveness is even more powerful if you can say it to the person you’re forgiving. Unless your parent is completely resistant or unavailable, it’s worth trying to forgive in person. You may even get an apology, but if you don’t, let it go anyway. Your forgiveness is for you and you alone, and once you give it, however it happens, you will be ready to move into a new, more satisfying and happier stage of your life.