When someone is going through an addiction, not only is that person’s individual life affected in all sorts of ways, but anyone who knows and loves that person is also affected, especially that person’s children. Addiction can severely destroy the lives of all those surrounded by it, but children are often not old enough or mature enough to understand truly what is going on around them or how to respond to their situation. For this reason, a child with an addict parent needs the other adults in his or her life to rally around him or her and help learn how to cope. To assist those looking to help children with this, here are three ways you can help a child with a parent going through addiction.
Be A Beacon of Sobriety and Stability
Growing up with the most important adult in your life being an addict can make having a normal childhood very difficult. Instead of having a parent to trust and depend on, children of addicts have to learn how to survive almost entirely on their own and in spite of the circumstances in which they find themselves. With this in mind, Promises.com shares that if you’re an adult in the life of a child from addicted parents, it’s vital that you show them that adults can be sober and stable. If you say you’ll do something with or for that child, make sure you do it. It’s crucial that this child learn that not all adults will choose something over being there for them, so try to be that type of example.
Create An Atmosphere of Trust and Openness
Because children with addict parents often have to take some of their parenting onto themselves, it can be hard to have relationships built on trust or healthy communication. Knowing this, AlcoholicsVictorious.org suggests trying to build a relationship with this child in which trust and openness are the foundational attributes. Once this child is comfortable opening up to you about their situation and how it’s impacting their life, it will be much easier for you to find some real, concrete ways in which you can give service catered to their specific needs.
Let Them Feel Their Emotions
Having been neglected and forced to grow up in a situation that is much less than ideal can cause a child to react in any number of ways. While some children may be able to become well adjusted without any outside help, many children will need assistance learning how to cope with their past and the emotions that come along with it. To assist here, John Sovec, a contributor to GoodTherapy.org, suggests allowing the child to feel whatever emotions are being felt, be it anger, fear, embarrassment or frustration, and then trying to help them learn how to deal with those feelings in a healthy and productive way. This will be a long process, but learning that it’s okay to have negative feelings and work through those feelings could be very beneficial.
If you know a child that has parents who are addicted to something, use the tips mentioned above to help that child rise above those circumstances and get the help necessary.