The action of addiction can be a destructive force. Parents are often so focused on keeping kids from becoming addicted that they miss the other damage, pain and suffering that can happen. Parents need to learn about protecting kids from the environment of addiction as much as from the behaviors.
Addictive behaviors have a wide range of victims. Some will say that society feels the pains of the hurts, habits and hang-ups of the individual. The addict is definitely affected by the substance or behavior demanding rule over there life. But kids can feel some of the deepest pain from the struggles of the people around them.
Four Simple Steps for Protecting the Kids
- Be honest – kids are so much more aware than adults often give them credit. Let the kids in the home know that there is a problem. Answer any questions they may have about actions and attitudes. Avoid sugar-coating the responses, but also be sure to use responses that are age appropriate.
- Be available – set up a regular time when kids can talk about the situation or can freely ask questions. Give them a number where they can call if they have a concern or just need an ear to listen. Set up a link through Facebook, Instant Messenger or just a simple email address so that they can connect online. The more doors you open for communication then the more likely the kids will be
to communicate any fears or needs.
- Be open – be prepared that the views or ideas of the kids may not be the same as yours. Avoid judging their thoughts and focus instead on keeping them protected from the addictions and behaviors that come with them.
- Be willing – there may come a time when the only way to protect the kids is to take them to a save place. Older kids need to understand so that they do not feel betrayed if removal becomes the only option. When physical safety becomes an issue then you have to be bold enough to make that move.
Addiction hurts. Kids can be the unintended victims of the bad decisions made by people around them. It can be a continuous struggle trying to find the magic key for protecting kids from addiction.
Kids may still be hurt, but the damage can be reduced by following a few simple steps. Be honest with kids if you want kids to believe anything you say. Be available to let them talk and share. Be open to seeing their side of the coin. Be willing to take them out of the home if safety becomes an issue.
Kids are more aware than most adults could possible imagine. Use that awareness to help keep them safe from the troubles and issues that surround addiction. It may be impossible to keep them completely protected from the pain. Putting these steps into practice may be the key for protecting kids from the sufferings around addiction and giving them a hope that might never have been possible before.