Every parent cares very deeply about their children having the best life possible. You want you child to live a long, healthy, and happy life, and a very important part of that is protecting and warning him or her away from things that are harmful. If you’ve ever had a history of addiction, you may feel an especially urgent need to do whatever it takes to make sure your children don’t repeat your mistakes in experimenting with substance abuse or becoming addicted themselves.
While simply modeling responsible behavior, knowing about your kids’ activities and friends, providing a loving and safe home where they feel accepted are all excellent ways to ensure your children grow up avoiding a lifestyle of addictive patterns. In addition, speaking about drinking and drug use with honesty and directness is vitally important. This is a conversation that can be uncomfortable and intimidating, but essential. Here are some pointers to keep in mind in sharing your story with your children in a way that can best prepare them for a good future of sobriety.
Keep things chill
Sitting your kids down for a formal “big talk” about an important subject has its place every now and then, but these can easily create discomfort that can make a child more likely to say what you want to hear rather than be honest. So any large conversation should be accompanied by lots of other smaller talks that are more casual and allow for relaxed back and forth. Bring in snippets about your recovery or addiction into casual conversation.
One excellent way to get a conversation started is watching a movie with them that portrays the effects of addiction and the struggle to get sober. Some possible good choices for mature teenagers include 28 Days, When a Man Loves a Woman, and The Basketball Diaries. However you choose to bring the topic up, a conversation where a child feel free to interact honestly will be more effective than something that feels like a lecture.
Don’t feel the need to sugar-coat things or pretend you have to be perfect. Speaking out of your vulnerability and personal experience, if done thoughtfully can have a more powerful impact than speaking from a place of “because I said so” authority. Before you talk to your child, about your addiction, take some time to think about what you want to say and how you want to share it. Craft a few choice episodes into a personal story. Think of a time you wish you could go back and do thing differently, or a time when you handled a temptation well and was glad about it. What’s an example of peer pressure you had to face, or a time you faced serious consequences or felt afraid? Specific examples of your mistakes that make you look human and approachable, and create lasting examples to help a child make more responsible choices.
Whether it’s from media, school, their peers, or society, kids today often face a lot of pressure and struggles to fit in and succeed according to standards somebody else set over them. If children were around during your time of active addiction, they might even blame themselves for things that went wrong. Drugs or alcohol can sometimes seem an appealing way to deal with these pressures. By offering your child unconditional love and support, you help him or her become more comfortable sharing these pressures with you, as well as more assured that they can feel good about themselves the way they are.