Adult Child Syndrome

It is my belief that it is nearly impossible to escape the effects of childhood experiences and events as we grow up and become adults.

If you have experienced adversity in your childhood, you may have begun to notice that you continue to be affected in ways which are causing you pain, confusion and difficulty, in many, if not all areas of your adult life. 

Adverse childhood experiences include growing up in a dysfunctional family where alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, abuse or neglect were present. This certainly doesn’t cover everything and I think it is summed up very well in the following quote:

‘Something happened to us a long time ago.  It happened more than once.  It hurt us.  We protected ourselves the only way we knew how.  We are still protecting ourselves.  It isn’t working anymore’. (Friel and Friel, 1988, p.22)

As an adult, you may notice that you:

  • Repeat unhelpful patterns in your life (even when you feel like you did it differently this time)

  • Feel overly responsible for others, change yourself to meet someone else’s needs or only feel worthy when you are meeting someone else’s needs (this may have developed into codependency)

  • Are afraid of being abandoned or rejected and make decisions based upon this fear 

These are just some of the things adults who have experienced adverse childhoods have in common, this is known as ‘adult child syndrome’.

An adult child:

‘is someone whose actions and decisions as an adult are guided by childhood experiences grounded in self doubt or fear’(ACA,Big Red Book, p 302)

‘is someone who responds to adult situations with self doubt, self blame or a sense of being wrong or inferior – all learned from stages of our childhoods’(ACA,Big Red Book, p 7)

Living in this way can make you feel angry, anxious, lonely, scared and confused.  You may also feel numb, overwhelmed or find it difficult to know what you are feeling.  

You may feel that something is wrong with you and feel different from other people, you may also have a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

From my own personal and professional experience I know it is possible to heal and transform and it is my joy to work with you through this transformation.

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