Confusion, uncertainty and insecurity abounds for children who don’t understand why their brother or sister is sleeping all day, acting crazy, looking funny and no longer participate with the family.
Being honest and open to your child/children about their sibling’s substance abuse issues is respectful and fair. Don’t forget that children are very intuitive and if they see their parents speaking in hushed tones when it comes to their sibling or witness an emotional and/or physical change they will realize something is up.
Here are seven tips for parents on how to begin a conversation about substance abuse in the family:
1.) Pick an easy, comfortable time to chat with your kids. Maybe a picnic in the park or a meal at their favorite
restaurant is a good backdrop.
2.) Though it is a big deal, don’t make it so in the conversation. Parents should be able to tell the truth in a way that children are able to understand and prepare themselves for the changes that will happen in the family. For many kids, routine helps them feel safe. So if life becomes unpredictable, they will need help adjusting to the changes.
3.) Ask the kids if they are worried or concerned about what’s going on within the family. If they don’t come forth, leave it. Simply say that if they are confused, scared or upset about anything that they see or hear you are there for them anytime.
4.) If there have been volatile arguments within the family let the children know that they have nothing to do with the fighting and that you are sorry that they had to witness these outbreaks.
5.) The children should be told that regardless of what’s happening with their sibling that he/she loves them and again, they are not responsible.
6.) If the children are aware that there is something wrong with their brother or sister, it is open, honest and healthy to tell them that he/she is sick at the moment and that Mom and Dad are doing everything they can to help him/her get well.
7.) Please consider Al-Ateen ( http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen ) - a group of teens sharing their confusion, anger, etc… with each otherregarding substance abuse issues with other teenagers. Private counseling is always an option as well.
Addiction Treatment for adults and young adults: 1-888-387-6237