Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol for Parents

explaining alcoholism to a child

If the child is young, it might be helpful to let Sesame Street start the conversation about addiction. In 2019, Sesame Street began offering a story line on a child whose parent was struggling with addiction. Watching this story might help answer your child’s questions and reassure them that they are not the only person whose family has experienced this particular hardship. “Parental alcohol addiction has numerous negative effects on children, making it important to understand how to explain alcoholism to a child. It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol and other drugs. Children as young as nine years old already start viewing alcohol in a more positive way, and approximately 3,300 kids as young as 12 try marijuana each day.

  • Even if your kids don’t seem to be hearing what you say, studies show that parents really do influence teens’ behaviors.
  • Just knowing that there are others who are feeling the same pain and confusion can be comforting to kids.
  • Even if your teen may have tried tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, you can still talk about making healthy choices and how to say “no” next time.
  • Parents have a big effect on their child’s choices about drinking.

As a result of trust issues or the lack of self-esteem, adult children of parents with AUD often struggle with romantic relationships or avoid getting close to others. Because alcohol use is normalized in families with alcoholism, children can often struggle to distinguish between good role models and bad ones. As a result, many will end up feeling conflicted, confused, and self-conscious when they realize that drinking is not considered normal in other families. One misconception that many people have is that their drinking is not affecting anyone else. Of course, that’s not true, and children of alcoholic parents can be among those most impacted. “Why do people want to get drunk?” This may follow the “Why is Aunt Sue acting that way?” question.

If a child’s parent was mean or abusive when they were drunk, adult children can grow up with a fear of all angry people. They may spend their lives avoiding conflict or confrontation of any kind, worrying that it could turn violent. “At this age, if you tell them it’s bad, they think it’s bad,” says Paul Coleman, a father, family therapist, and author of How to Say It to Your Kids. So state your values firmly, work on establishing good communication with your child, and set an example by taking good care of yourself physically and avoiding overuse of alcohol. There are also certain things you should try to avoid when talking to your adult child about their alcohol use. That’s why it’s so important to talk with children about alcohol and other drug dependence when it first becomes a part of their lives.

Makes available free informational materials on many aspects of alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism. Generally, your child will be more open to your supervision if he or she feels you are keeping tabs because you care, not because you distrust him or her. Enter your email address – we’ll keep you informed on the latest news and share resources for parents and mentors.

Remain Age-Appropriate

I was faced with the decision of explaining addiction to my small child or trying to answer her question without revealing the whole truth. The more of these experiences a child has had, the greater the chances that he or she will develop problems with alcohol. Having one or more risk factors does not mean that your child definitely will develop a drinking problem, but it does suggest that you may need to act now to help protect your youngster from later problems.

Moreover, if your son or daughter eventually does begin to drink, a good relationship with you will help protect him or her from developing alcohol-related problems. “Why doesn’t Katie see her dad anymore?” A grade-schooler who recognizes certain social problems may not yet know that alcohol is the cause. If someone in your family is a drinker, your child may have been asking these questions from an early age. If a friend of your child has an alcoholic relative, be alert for some new questions.

explaining alcoholism to a child

Talk with your child about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs today — and keep the conversation going. Make sure to talk to your child about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. Share this website about prescription and OTC drug misuse with them.

Alcohol Awareness

The National Association for Children of Addiction offers training and tool kits for implementing support groups for children. This organization provides free resources for children on their website, and parents can find pointers for learning how to explain alcoholism to a child. Recent data confirms that young people need more support to address their mental health and substance use disorder challenges. The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly three in five U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021 – representing a nearly 60% increase over the past decade. It also found that 22% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year. Builds on unprecedented investment through President Biden’s Unity Agenda to tackle the mental health crisis and support community-based behavioral health care and treatment.

And be sensitive to the fact that kids often assume that no one knows what happens in their home. So, make sure you answer all their questions openly and honestly. You also can invite the tween to come to you anytime they are upset or confused and need some answers. When it comes to tweens, you want to make sure they have all the facts about their parent’s addiction.

If kids do have questions about alcohol, answer them simply and honestly. Sometimes addicted parents also will do things that are embarrassing, like show up for a school function intoxicated, slur their words when talking with a teacher, or explode in anger at a basketball game. All of these things are extremely hard on children, no matter how old they are. Whether you’re the child’s non-addicted parent, a concerned relative, or a teacher, talking to kids about their parent’s addiction is not an easy conversation. Ignoring the issue or trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist is never a good idea and only leaves kids wondering if this is the way everyone’s life is.

Support for Children of Alcoholics

Your child will get used to sharing information and opinions with you. This will make it easier for you to continue talking as they get older. Sesame Street also has Q&A information to help you talk with young children about addiction. eco sober house review Children in homes where one or more adults have a substance dependence can be affected in many ways. Provides information, support, treatment options, and referrals to local rehab centers for drug or alcohol problems.

explaining alcoholism to a child

So it makes sense to encourage your child to participate in supervised after-school and weekend activities that are challenging and fun. According to a recent survey of preteens, the availability of enjoyable, alcohol-free activities is a big reason for deciding not to use alcohol. Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you keep closer tabs on your child.

Set Rules

No matter how things might seem right now, it’s never too late to reach out for help. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is here to help you understand treatment options and answer questions if you’re not sure how to help a child with alcohol use disorder. By preschool, most children have seen adults smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, either in real life, on TV, or online.

Now is the time to establish yourself as a parent who will answer any question – no matter how difficult or disturbing – calmly and thoughtfully. When your child reaches middle school and starts to have serious questions about alcohol and drugs, it will help if you have a history of heart-to-heart talks. Right now, he may not have many specific questions about alcohol, but you can set the stage for tomorrow’s talks about drinking and peer pressure by answering today’s questions about sex and bodily functions. Talking to kids about alcohol and drinking may seem like something that can wait until they’re in high school, but experts say that time frame may be too late. A report from The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents should start talking to their children about alcohol as early as age nine.

Likewise, you should keep your conversations age appropriate. These types of beliefs can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in kids, such as codependency. As a result, children can feel guilt and shame trying to keep the family’s “secrets.” And they often feel abandoned due to the emotional unavailability of their parents. Still, it can be hard if you feel unpopular because of your decision. Good friends won’t stop being your friend just because you don’t want to drink alcohol.

Find out whether your church, school, or community organization can help you sponsor a project. Early adolescence is a time of immense and often confusing changes for your son or daughter, which makes it a challenging time for both your youngster and you. Understanding what it’s like to be a teen can help you stay closer to your child and have more influence on the choices he or she makes—including decisions about using alcohol.

Living with an addicted parent is often chaotic, lonely, and even scary—especially if the family breaks up because of substance abuse. Even if children are not removed from the home, living with a parent who abuses alcohol or other substances may cause kids to become withdrawn and shy, while others can become explosive and violent. If you can, try to give the teen opportunities to participate in activities or to take up a hobby that builds their self-esteem. And, at some point you should talk about the fact that addiction is a disease with a genetic component. So, they should refrain from experimenting with drugs and alcohol, because the chances of them developing an addiction like their parent is higher than it is for other kids. Finally, when talking with teens, the first thing you need to consider is that they may be feeling resentful of the addiction.

If the child is young, it might be helpful to let Sesame Street start the conversation about addiction. In 2019, Sesame Street began offering a story line on a child whose parent was struggling with addiction. Watching this story might help answer your child’s questions and reassure them that they are not the only person…