Whether you have suffered with addiction issues yourself or not, finding out that your child is an addict can evoke a very specific type of heartache. This kind of pain is multifaceted and can come at you from all angles. You may wonder if you somehow fostered or caused your son’s addiction and you will worry about your daughter’s health. You may feel judged by your community or other parents, all while wondering if your child is keeping afloat financially. You may even be angry sometimes and feel like your son or daughter is choosing addiction over the life you worked so hard to give him or her.
Your emotions will likely be all over the place when you learn your child is struggling with addiction, but there are still things you can do to continue caring for yourself and your child through the process. Although these tips won’t make all of the pain go away, they can help you be the parent your son or daughter needs now more than ever.
1. Reconcile your hopes with reality.
No matter what you believe you could have done differently, your child could have still wound up on the path that he or she is in today. Now is not the time to focus on negative outcomes so stay in the present and accept the reality of the current situation. If your son or daughter has a significant other or friends who you can talk to, try to find out their version of what is happening in your son or daughter’s life without prying too much. Your child may be filtering what is told to you, but it’s important that you’re able to gauge the full picture and state of his or her addiction.
2. Resist the urge to blame yourself.
However “hands-on” your parenting style is, whether you use a “Tiger Mom” or helicopter-parenting approach, there is no way you can navigate your child’s every step for him or her. Therefore, you cannot prevent every possible wrong turn your son or daughter takes. Even if you have suffered with addiction problems yourself, it’s important that you know you did not cause your child’s addiction. If you need help with blaming yourself for your child’s addiction, seek out professional therapy to help get you through this trying time and the difficult psychological issues it may present.
3. Be careful with ultimatums.
One of the basic ideas behind a group intervention is often an ultimatum. Family members and close friends make it clear that they expect the addict to get help out of fear that something valuable, like relationships, be put on the line. However, this is an extreme measure that isn’t always best tactic for every person and every situation. Rather, try to be a positive voice of calm reason in your child’s life. Listen to every word he or she tells you and listen with enthusiasm. Because your son or daughter is in a vulnerable state, he or she will likely interpret extreme ultimatums as betrayal.
4. Tighten the money.
Whereas extreme ultimatums may not be best, tightening the money you provide your child with may be crucial. If you have previously provided your son or daughter with a cash allowance or financial aid to buy textbooks and other college expenses, consider allowing him or her to only use a credit card where every transaction can be traced and limited instead.
5. Don’t feel like you are alone.
You are not professionally trained to handle matters like these, so don’t expect yourself to play the role of a doctor overseeing a physical detox or a counselor. Get the help you and your child needs from those who specialize in it.
6. Never stop expressing your love.
While parents usually don’t ever stop feeling love for their children, some parents, in difficult situations like these, clam up and stop expressing it. Do not do that. Continue giving your child clear expressions of love. When he or she is finally on the other side of all of this, the unconditional love you provided your son or daughter will be one of the reasons why he or she will still have a bond with you.