Coping with an addiction when children are in the picture can have consequences. Psychologically children suffer from the impact of a parent’s addiction both in the short and long term. Learned behaviors can have a lasting impact for generations. Find out what to do now to shield kids from addiction recovery and learn steps to navigate the process in a healthy way.
Children of parents with addiction may be genetically predisposed to addictive patterns and behaviors but may also have witnessed and experienced unhealthy behaviors throughout childhood. Addiction affects the entire family which requires focused attention and time to help children cope effectively and learn healthy habits now and in the future.
Effects on Children
Children are far more resilient than parents give credit for but are also more affected by environments which are toxic. While it may be easy to sweep it under the rug and ignore any issues which pop up, it is better to offer support, assistance and help wherever possible to allow a child to sort out any residual feelings from difficult situations.
What to Do
Six things exist which may help a child process a parent’s addiction and find positive, healthy coping mechanisms.
Be open and honest. A child who feels reassured a parent is open and available to discuss what is happening makes the child feel safe and secure. Do not be afraid to ask several times if a child is OK and wait for a response. It is likely a child feels pushed aside by addiction and trust needs to be rebuilt to believe in the parent, which is key for the child’s development.
Lead by Example. Set a positive example, exhibit healthy behaviors and lead a well balanced life with a good circle of friends and companions who support addiction recovery. Children take cues from parents so work on personal development to support a child’s development as well.
Maintain friendships. Allow space and opportunity for a child to engage with other children, play and act like a child. Help pair the child with another one in the same age range or offer to watch someone else’s child on a playdate. Find a friend who understands the current situation and is open and willing to accommodate the child when things may be tough at home.
Build community. Programs exist to support children of parents with addiction. Utilize resources to assist a child’s recovery and to express feelings about safety and what it looks like.
Seek therapy. Seek professional advice as a family and individually for the child. A child may try to be strong for the parents by not expressing feelings but having a therapist can help.
Dance. Sing, dance and have fun with the children. Experience happiness, joy and a good time by going to a movie, the park or on play dates. It is never too late to repeat and model good behavior to help a child heal and flourish.
.Treatment Now has resources available for families struggling with addiction. Call us to find out how we can support your recovery journey as a family. 844-438-8689