According to experts, over 28 million children have alcoholic parents. Homes where parents are living in addiction face many challenges. These children face a greater risk for neglect or abuse, are more likely to witness episodes of domestic violence and are four times more apt to develop addiction themselves in the future.
As a result, kids with addicted parents experience more behavioral issues, more emotional problems and a greater amount of academic struggle compared to peers from non-addicted home settings. The children know things are not as they should be. On the one hand, they tend to feel a strong sense of loyalty toward their addicted parent. On the other hand, they often feel resentful, too.
Here are a few tips for talking to the child about the addiction which affects their life:
1. Be truthful, yet age appropriate. You don’t need to give unnecessary details. Do state clearly that there is a problem and there is a plan to address the problem. Hope is real.
2. Explain that addiction is an illness and therefore can be treated. Illness is not the child’s fault. It happens for reasons that have nothing to do with the child.
3. Ask how the child feels and accept their responses (or lack). Apologize where appropriate.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics has developed a list of C statements that can help:
I did not cause it
I cannot cure it
I cannot control it
I can care for myself by – communicating feelings, making healthy choices, celebrating myself
At Family Guidance we are interested in helping people overcome addiction. We also offer help to those affected by addiction – including children of addicted parents. If this describes your home, contact us today.