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5 Reasons to Tell Your Kids Why You’re Sober

5 Reasons to Tell Your Kids Why You’re Sober

Kids know when addiction is in the home, so talk to yours about addiction and sobriety to move forward in recovery

Talking to children about addiction is difficult, but necessary: parents, grandparents, caregivers and loved ones see that it is in children’s best interest to understand addiction, its consequences and, most importantly, that it is not their fault.

Talking to a child about addiction may sound like a situation wherein one must tiptoe around topics and sugarcoat reality, but such is not the case. What children can understand may surprise you, and, no matter what age a child is, he will be affected by addiction. There certainly are age-appropriate topics to discuss, but communicating the basics can be done at a very early age. Doctors and schools recommend beginning drug abuse prevention and education measures in schools, the community and at home around age 11, as it is the age that many kids start experimenting with alcohol. So, the idea of talking to a child of an addicted parent before the age of 11 is absolutely acceptable, especially since a major goal of the conversation is to help children cope with problems. Such conversation will help a child know that the addiction is not his fault and has nothing to do with his future.

Recovery professionals, addiction counselors, educators and others can help parents asses the right age to talk to their kids about addiction. Most experts would agree that the discussion will be repetitive: a parent will not bring up the issue one time, rather she will introduce it and continually check-in with her child to make sure he is coping in a healthy manner, that he does not hold back his feelings and etc. This is why going over the basics with smaller children can eventually develop into a more complex discussion as the child grows up, and this is exceptionally helpful at keeping children of drug addicts away from drugs themselves.

In articles posted by Bradford Health Services, addiction treatment professionals suggest that children around the age of seven be introduced to the concept of “The Seven Cs of Addiction,” which include the following thoughts:

  • I did not cause the addiction
  • I cannot cure it
  • I cannot control it
  • But I can help take care of myselfBy communicating my feelings,Making healthy choices and Celebrating myself

For younger children, parents should simply emphasize the following thoughts:

  • The child did not cause it Cannot control it Cannot cure it
  • But can learn to cope with it

For those who think it is a good idea to keep children in the dark about addiction and sobriety, here are 5 reasons why talking to kids about addition and sobriety is the best way to go:

  • Considerable research shows that children of addicts are about four times more likely to struggle with drug abuse than other children; however, Gene Brody (Regents Professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences) says that “involved and supportive parenting can completely override the effects of a genetic risk for substance abuse.” In other words, no child’s future is doomed by her parents’ addiction. If a parent talks to to his child about drug abuse, then he can generate the involved and supportive parenting role that combats the high risk for addiction. Being involved means discussing the realty of addiction with a child.
  • Research also shows a heavy correlation between children of addictions and depression. A 2013 Canadian study revealed that children who are exposed to a parent’s substance abuse are 69 percent more likely to develop depression. This problem can stem from several circumstances, including childhood abuse, neglect and etc,, but talk to your child about addiction. Be sure to stress that the issue is not their fault, which will eliminate negative feelings and guilt.
  • Talking to a child about addiction can bring a significant amount of relief. Having a parent reveal what is going on, why things are happening and that she is making things better is of massive importance for a child. A parent who can tell her child she is working toward sobriety communicates hope for the future; in response, the child has a safe, secure home and relationship with his parent. There was a reason for chaos, but that the behavior is being corrected.
  • Letting a child in on a parent’s addiction struggle also gives the child a sense of power rather than helplessness. Children who are aware of problems know they have the right to ask questions, express concerns and hold their parent accountable. They can also feel safe and secure rather than confused or fearful about a parent’s behavior. When a child is made aware of the situation, she needs people to connect with and confide in, if necessary. When a child is in the know, she has some control and is confident that she is not alone if a parent relapses.
  • When a parent is ready to get sober, she allows her kids to have their childhood back. Instead of creating conflict, fear and confusion in the home, parents can boost their child’s creativity, self-confidence and joy. Talking to kids about addiction lets them know that the parent is trying to make things right, that she is working to be a better person and parent.

If addiction has impacted your family and you want to find treatment services that will allow everyone to move forward, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our admissions coordinators will answer your questions, provide information and connect you with the help that will foster your recovery.