When it comes to parenting, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s okay; kids don’t come with instruction manuals. But if a child has addicted parents, it can lead to parenting mistakes that cause life-long repercussions.
If you’ve ever wondered how a child is impacted by a parent’s drug addiction, here are some of the ways.
1. Living in Chaos
One of the first things any parenting professional says is to make sure kids feel safe and secure at home. Yet, when a child is living with an addict, life is chaotic and uncertain, not safe and secure. These children don’t develop parental trust, which can have long-term impacts on a child’s self-esteem and self-worth.
2. Kids Blame Themselves
Many addicts blame shift, telling others that it’s their fault the person drinks, does drugs, becomes angry, or engages in any form of abuse. And when it comes to children, they believe the addict. A child may think if only he or she was better behaved, went to bed earlier, or was a “good kid,” the addict would stop using. This not only damages a child’s confidence, it leads to resentment that can last a lifetime.
3. Adult Responsibilities
While it’s important for kids to have responsibilities, for the children of addicts, it goes beyond doing the dishes and making the bed. Because there’s a lack of structure in homes impacted by addiction, children are likely to become more self-reliant than other kids. These children may have the sole responsibility of house cleaning. They may need to make their own meals or even food for the entire family. If there are younger siblings, the oldest typically becomes the caregiver and attempts to protect the younger children from seeing and dealing with the addicted parent.
4. Too Much Time Alone
Children of addicts and alcoholics are often left alone to entertain themselves while their parents get high. These children are also more likely to be left home alone, without adult supervision. When this lack of attention occurs over and over again, the child feels rejected, so though she’s not important enough for the parents to want to spend time with her. Older children may take on the role of a parent, having to engage in age-inappropriate responsibilities. This lack of parental involvement causes a decrease in self-worth and self-esteem.
5. Higher Risk for Anxiety, Depression, and Drug Abuse
Children of addicts are two to four times more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. They are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Many experience behavioral, emotional, and academic problems and as adults, they may have difficulty opening up to trust people or form healthy relationships. They’re also more likely to get divorced or be involved in domestic violence.
Break the Cycle
Is a child you love impacted by addiction? Is it time to put a stop to the neglect and break the cycle of addiction? Find a local addiction treatment center in your state.