Substance abuse is devastating to a family. The turmoil it does can cause many problems, especially with young children that can’t comprehend what’s going on. As a parent, you may not know how to approach your other children about their sibling’s addiction. In today’s blog, we will explain what options there are in talking to your children about addiction.
Feelings Children May Have
When your other children recognize their sibling is acting odd or not normal, they may not know how to navigate the environment. They may be confused, scared, and insecure around the person and even with the family in general. Substance abuse can destroy familial relationships, so it’s crucial you talk to your children about the situation. Hence, they feel supported and loved, regardless of the attention you may be foisting upon the addict.
Children are intuitive and know when things don’t feel right. They may start acting out themselves or becoming withdrawn so as not to upset you. They may feel you will lose it and lash out at them or their sibling. This is the time to sit down with your other children and have a calm and open discussion about drug and alcohol addiction and how it’s a disease. Here are the options for you to consider.
Talking to Children
- Find the best place to talk. It may be at a park or eating at their favorite restaurant, or wherever they feel comfortable, but find a comforting place with both parents in attendance, if possible.
- If there’s a big gap between your other children’s ages, or if there’s not a close bond they share, consider talking to them separately.
- Try and not be too serious. When speaking with your children, tell them their sibling has a disease that they need help with. Body language is everything, so keep your hands still and try and act calmly. Kids will pick up any stress you feel, so try and stay positive.
- Allow them to ask any questions or talk about their concerns and be supportive of their feelings. For younger children, minimize the tension by playing their favorite game.
- Ask your children about what they have witnessed in their sibling and then explain what those behaviors mean and whether or not it bothers them or scares them. Validate their feelings.
- Discuss with them about any volatile arguments you might have had with their sibling and ensure it had nothing to do with them, but the disease. Apologize and let them know you still love their sibling and want them to get help.
- If the children know something is off with their sibling, reassure them, they will be OK; it’s just they are sick and need treatment to get better. Let them know Mom and Dad are doing everything they can to help them get well. Be honest with them about how long it could take to recover completely from the disease.
- If your child or other children are teens, think about Alateen, a group where teens get together and share their feelings regarding the substance abuse going on in their family. You can also choose private counseling with both parents.
- It’s important to keep your family a united front; however, if the child that’s abusing drugs becomes a danger, it may be best to get them help in a residential treatment center to protect the other children.
- Make it clear that you’re not looking for them to “tattle” on their sibling or spy on them for information. Establish that a loving and supportive person sibling doesn’t include exploiting their brother or sister.
Talking to your children about a sibling’s drug abuse is a difficult situation, whether they’re in grade school or college or older. A responsible parent knows the importance of open communication and being honest about the circumstances.
Need Help? Reach Out to Ardu
We want your child to recover from drug addiction or alcohol dependence. Please reach out and allow us to customize a treatment program that enables them to recover and reclaim their life. Our staff is trained, supportive, and caring, so please contact us today.