Dear Dad

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The life of a child is quite often a rather difficult and painful proposition--few parents seem to know what they are doing, and when they do it later turns out to have been wrong. It sometimes seems that people learn a great deal about parenting by the time the grandchildren arrive, but that is only an illusion born of the fact that they are seldom around when they are needed. Nevertheless, the children of alcoholic parents have an extra burden to bear, for in addition to the normal problems resulting from working with unskilled labor such children must face an emotionally charged situation in which violence, verbal and physical, lurks just beneath the surface.

Moreover, inasmuch as individuals appear to replicate in their own adult relationships the pattern established by their parents, the more things change the more they are the same. Still, the human animal is, if nothing else, adaptable, and therefore each generation strives mightily to avoid the mistakes of the preceding one. In the process, sons and daughters find themselves forced to come to grips with the essential question of why their parents were the way they were. This is of particular importance to children of alcoholics in that parental affection is perpetually at war with the shame and anger engendered by the ill treatment they received. Not only that, but whereas children of nonalcoholics are normally able to question their parents and thus receive a measure of clarification such is not...

(The entire section is 412 words.)