It is exceptionally difficult for some people to face the challenge of telling their children about past drug or alcohol abuse. That said, it is also important to recognize that very often children are negatively influenced by a parent who has dealt with substance abuse in the past. It is not uncommon for children of addicted parents to go on to develop substance abuse issues of their own. This is the reason why it is important to be open and honest with your children, when they are at an appropriate age to understand.
Don’t Lie or Sugar-Coat Your Addiction
It’s always easier to gloss over or omit certain details of past addiction, especially when talking to a young child. However, it is crucial that you always tell the truth and that it is presented in such a way that makes sense to the child according to their age and stage of development. Children often absorb negative things their parents tell them in such a way that they feel responsible, which is naturally something you want to avoid.
Teach Your Child About Addiction, Recovery, And Relapse
A good strategy to help children understand addiction is to educate them on the illness. They should understand that a person’s behavior when they are under the influence is not voluntary but that they are in the grips of a compulsive illness. This is important as it makes you accountable for your past behavior rather than your children feeling that they are.
Reassure Your Child
To avoid your child feeling they are responsible for your past substance abuse you should reassure your child. Make them aware that it was as a result of bad choices that you became addicted to substances and that once you were, your actions became beyond your control. You also need to tell your child that they are not able to cure your problem and that you will always have to work hard to maintain sobriety. By talking openly in this manner with your children, you can let them know that with their love and support alone, you will be able to make it.
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