Reparenting Ourselves and Our Teens: Survival Roles in Alcoholic and High Stress Families

12 Steps for Parenting Teens, Conscious Parents in Recovery, Reparenting Ourselves, Survival Roles

Many adults on their own re-parenting and consciousness journey identify with some or part of these roles because their unique voices were not heard as children.

Sometimes it’s helpful to look deeper in our family of origin to define tendencies that block us from becoming and expressing our authentic selves.

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse’s seminal work in Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family identifies six survival roles the family adopts. Four roles are designated for the children. Depending on birth order and personality traits, they are: heroscapegoatlost child, and mascot.

  • Substance Abuser or Mentally Ill Parent
    • Role: To act irresponsibly
    • Purpose: To suppress more basic marital conflict, to divert attention away from more threatening family issues
  • Chief Enabler
    • Role: To reduce tension in family by “smoothing things over”
    • Purpose: Offers the family a sense of stability and protection
  • Family Hero (usually oldest child)
    • Role: Source of pride for family
    • Purpose: Offers family a sense of being okay, gives them hope and something to feel good about
  • Family Scapegoat (usually second oldest child)
    • Role: Alter ego of the family hero
    • Purpose: Offers family a sense of purpose by providing someone to blame
  • Lost Child (may be middle or youngest child)
    • Role: Seeks to avoid conflict at all costs
    • Purpose: Offers family a sense of relief and success, and is not trouble to them
  • Family Mascot (usually the youngest child)
    • Role: To play the “family clown”
    • Purpose: To bring laughter and fun into the home

Part of my mission is to serve conscious parents to help them free themselves of the roots of their co-dependent behavior.

Since my family of origin came to recovery later in life, I didn’t have a model of how to share or speak consciously. I set out on a course of study and awakenings that led me to develop a type of roadmap through conscious communication skills.

These skills led me to speak openly about recovery concepts with my children and facilitate discussions about their choices regarding alcohol. Communicating from the heart laid the foundation to break the generational cycle of alcoholism in our roots.

My work in the conscious parenting movement and in recovery finds alignment by offering an adaptation of the Twelve Steps of Conscious Parenting and the Twelve Steps for Recovering Parents.

For more information, visit Parenting in Recovery With Tweens and Teens Coaching Program – Laura Lyles Reagan Coach for Parenting Teens (