There are an estimated over 24 million Americans who struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol. And that's not to mention other addictions, such as gambling, sex, tobacco, shopping, pornography, food, and many more.
When a parent struggles with addiction, it affects the entire family. Palmetto offers family counseling for addiction as part of an overall treatment program in our rehabilitation centers. With all these people struggling with addiction, there are many children growing up surrounded by and being affected by these issues. These children grow up to face a lifetime of problems because addiction is not being talked about enough. Children of these homes struggle with emotional and behavioral problems, tend to not do very well academically, and are exponentially more likely to becomes addicts themselves. Additionally, homes with addiction tend to also be homes of unpredictability, abuse, neglect, divorce, or jailed parents.
While children learn to survive, the lack of parental supervision lends to insufficient responsibility and self-control. Unfortunately, many children of parents with addiction also blame themselves on their parents' addiction they feel it is their fault and can become resentful toward their parents and feel that it is them versus the rest of the world. Those who are raised in this sort of an environment, who learn to rely only on themselves, tend to be very closed off emotionally and reluctant to allow anyone to get close or involved with their lives.
While children learn to survive, the lack of parental supervision lends to insufficient responsibility and self-control. Unfortunately, many children of parents with addiction also blame themselves on their parents addiction they feel it is their fault and can become resentful toward their parents and feel that it is them versus the rest of the world. Those who are raised in this sort of an environment, who learn to rely only on themselves, tend to be very closed off emotionally and reluctant to allow anyone to get close or involved with their lives.
Unfortunately, children are quick to blame themselves when their parent has an addiction, whether that be drugs or alcohol addiction. Make sure that the child understands that none of this is his or her fault, and that they did not cause the addiction and that it was not their duty to cure their addiction. As they have probably convinced themselves that they are the cause of the addiction, this news will not come easily and you should give the child time to absorb and believe that none of this was their fault.
Help them understand that they are not alone, and that you will be there through every step of the way if they need you. Invite them to be open with you about how they are feeling or questions they have, but do not push too hard for them to open up. They have probably learned to cope on their own because of being raised in an unhealthy home for so long that it will be hard for them initially to open up. But give them time, and prove to them that you are there for them no matter how long it takes. Let them know that you aren't the only one interested in helping or listening. If they don't feel comfortable talking to you, they can reach out to teachers, counselors, religious leaders, or even a therapist.
Most parents struggle with how to raise their kids to not use drugs, abuse alcohol, give in to peer pressure, or fall into an addiction but are unsure of how or unwilling to talk to their kids honestly and openly. It is important to let your children know that you don't want that kind of life for them, and to explain why. It is not okay to shove things under the rug and assume that they'll hear the information from school.
Some tips for talking to your child include being honest with them, asking questions and encouraging them to ask questions, listening to them and supporting them, but also to be clear cut about the dangers and effects of addictive substances or actions. Nurture your children and teach them, raising them in an open environment where they feel they can ask questions and learn. They should know that no matter what, they can always come to you for advice and help. If you shut them out and tell them they can't have things or do things, the instinctive reaction is to do the exact opposite of what they're told.
You love your child and always want what is best for them, and the easiest way for them to know that is for you to be their best role model.