Why Should I Tell Them?
How Much is Appropriate to Explain?
There are some topics that are very difficult for children to understand, and addiction is one of them. When telling a child about the substance use of a parent, sibling, or more distant relative, it’s important to consider their age. By tailoring your conversation to their cognitive level, you will avoid overwhelming them and can help them to understand the issue at hand.
The Disease Model of Addiction
The Seven C’s
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics is an organization whose purpose is to eliminate the adverse impact of substance use on children and families. They recommend using the seven C’s to help young people better understand and cope with addiction in the home. They are…
- I didn’t cause it
- I can’t cure it
- I can’t control it
- I can care for myself
- By communicating my feelings
- Making healthy choices
- And celebrating myself
In addition to providing an age-appropriate explanation, adults should find ways to support the children of addicts. Perhaps the simplest approach to this is to ask the child how they feel in a situation – for example, if they’ve seen Daddy get angry and throw things, or if Mommy has fallen asleep while talking to them. Having these conversations brings family secrets to light and allows the child to feel seen, heard, and supported through difficult times.
Do You Need Help Explaining Addiction to a Child?
Telling children about addiction is a difficult task. However, with the right level of preparation, it is possible to use this conversation to help the child to feel supported, loved, and informed. At HVRC, our Family Program can help young people to better understand their parents’ drug and alcohol misuse, strengthening the family unit. To learn more about our evidence-based approach to addiction treatment and family healing, contact us today.