If you have decided going to rehab is the right choice for you, it’s important to find a way to make it happen. That being said, childcare responsibilities can be difficult to navigate in these situations. Deciding whether or not to inform your children where you are going depends on a number of factors ranging from the age of the children to how much the specifics of your life situation will help them understand as opposed to causing harm.
The professionals at Oasis Recovery can consult with you about difficult matters like the decision as to whether or not you should talk to your children about going to rehab. If you do decide to let your children know more about the situation, our mental health counselors can help provide you with information that will assist you in making an informed decision about the appropriate way to talk to children about substance abuse, treatment, and recovery. Reach out to us today to speak with a specialist who can provide you with more information to help you make the right decision for you.
Should I Tell My Kids I’m Going to Rehab?
If you decide that telling your children is the right thing to do, it’s important that you consider how you deliver this information and the type of language that is used.
A concerned child is likely to frequently ask about the whereabouts of their parent who has suddenly gone missing. Telling a child that their parent is in the process of getting better and should be back soon can be helped. Reminding the child that their parent is safe and doing what they need to do in order to return home when they are ready can also help.
Another approach is to provide a safe space for a child to discuss their feelings about their parent’s situation. A parent can tell their child who they will be staying with for a period of time until they “feel better” or related language that implies this is not an emotional burden that the child should take on themselves.
Ideally, try to avoid any sense of drama surrounding the sharing of news that a parent is going to rehab. The language and delivery is going to vary based on the age of the child. Older children will have a better understanding of the situation and will not appreciate condescension. It may be best to take a more direct stance and tell them that you have made some unfortunate decisions that you regret and will be doing your best to get better and make up for your own personal mistakes. It’s important that guilt and blame are not transferred from the parent to the child. It is not the child’s responsibility to take on an adult role simply because an adult in their life is struggling.
There may be circumstances in which it is appropriate for a child to make brief visits to a parent while they are in rehab, however, this depends on both the parent’s progress with their recovery as well as the treatment facility’s setup and protocol. It is not a good idea to expose children to adults who may be in distressed states as a result of their addiction and recovery process.
Reinforcing love is always essential.
Overall, emphasize that this is a positive choice to “get better” and improve you and your family’s life in the long run. Children deserve healthy and responsible parents who are able to keep them safe and provide for them. A parent who is struggling with addiction will not be able to be fully available to take care of all the needs that a child requires. Choosing to take the hard step to go to rehab is a bold and important decision that is respectable and brave.
Rehab and Child Custody
Parents with children who live in their household are often concerned that the choice to go to rehab will result in them losing custody of their children. Raising children in a situation where witnessing substance abuse and the ramifications of addiction as part of their day-to-day is unquestionably a poor decision. Without rehab, the situation is unlikely to resolve itself or improve on its own. Keeping that in mind, it’s fully reasonable for parents to worry about their children and what might happen if they admit they have a substance abuse disorder and need to go to rehab to get their life back on track.
One thing to keep in mind is that courts tend to look favorably on parents who make the decision on their own to go to rehab. People, including judges, understand that it takes courage and strength to make this difficult decision.
In some instances, a parent will be forced to temporarily give up custody of their child or children due to their particular circumstances. In many of these situations, the court will allow parents to regain custody once they have successfully completed a substance abuse treatment program and proved that they can sustain lasting recovery.
Remember that down the road family therapy may be a good option to repair the damage done to parent-child relationships both by the experience of substance abuse in the household while a child is growing up as well as custody issues. There is always the opportunity to mend damaged relationships if you are able to get your life back on the right path.
Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
Exposure to substance abuse leaves a lasting impression on children. Children who grow up in households where they are exposed to substance abuse are at greater risk for developing problems with addiction in their own lives.
It’s important to know that children are aware of more than you think. Young children are able to identify when there is something not right with the adults in their life. Your behavior might be scary to your children and they may be afraid to admit this.
Fighting with a spouse is traumatic for children. Those who have substance abuse issues often end up having financial difficulties, legal issues, and other problems that are witnessed by their children. Even behaviors that may seem less problematic like constantly “falling asleep” on the couch can leave a lasting impact on children.
Choose Rehab and Sobriety to Give Your Kids a Better Life
The long-term benefits of choosing rehab inevitably outweigh concerns about the present. Every day that children are exposed to the dangers of living with a person who has a substance abuse disorder is another unpredictable day. A person with a substance abuse disorder often has a misperception of being in control when, in fact, they are completely out of control.
Children can learn a valuable lesson from a parent who chooses sobriety and is able to maintain a life without using substances as a crutch. When a child later faces adversity or mental health issues they will be more careful about the coping mechanisms they choose to consider for themselves.
For more information about our personalized programs and mental health services, reach out to Oasis Recovery to speak with a specialist today. Remember that the choices you make today can impact the future of your children and your family. Recovery is just a phone call away.