Who is an “adult child”?
The answer is found in examination of family background, the most important determining factor is who is an “adult child” and who is not. Each of us begins life as a vulnerable child, Dependent upon our parents. If our parents are healthy and secure individuals with good parenting skills, then we will have a good chance of Emerging into adulthood as secure, happy individuals. But if our parents were individuals who suffered from compulsive or addictive patterns, their messages and behaviors to us were likely to be inconsistent confusing or even damaging. Perhaps they lavished us with love and attention one day and then ignored or rejected us the next. Being unable to cope themselves, such parents may have expected us to take on adult responsibilities well in advance of adulthood, or to care for, protect or make decisions for them and other family members. We usually felt woefully inadequate and confused under such pressures. Instead of being encouraged to be children, gradually maturing to welcome adult challenges, we may have reached adulthood with little understanding of the maturing process. With such a confusing history, we may have little confidence in our ability to handle life. We may re experience feelings of being overwhelmed, helpless or resentful under the ordinary stresses of adult life. We are “adult children”: we have the bodies of adults, the responsibilities, drives and goals of adults, but the unprocessed emotions of small, dependent children.