Rebuilding Relationships with Children

“When mistrust comes in, love goes out.” – Irish saying

Statistics claim the lives of at least 4 others are affected by an alcoholic. Many of those impacted are children. Unwilling participants in the downward descent of addiction, they have experienced the pain of witnessing, often first hand, the disease and all the ramifications.

Most alcoholics do not slam to the bottom.  The point where an alcoholic asks for help is often considered late in the game by those being affected and observing. Your children may suffer for years.

Just as you need considerable time to recover from your illness, so do your children. Pressure to move on without regard to the impact your addiction had on them deters their progress in the healing process.

The saying “Let time take time,” does indeed apply. A matter of weeks or even months is probably an unrealistic amount of time to undo the damage.

We want our children to talk but just how do we encourage them and how can we be open to it?

Spend time with your child regularly.

Knowing they can depend on you on certain days and or certain times goes a long way in establishing a sense of security and assures your children they can count on you. The trust this builds is paramount.The quantity of time does not compare to the quality. Consistency of this time conveys our love. Children feel valued when we devote time to them on a consistent basis.

Do all you can to remove their fear of sharing with you.

We show, by the power of example, how to handle life and the occasional challenges we face. Try to control upsets and anger. These can be frightening experiences. Our children may mistakenly believe us to be fragile and withhold out of concern. Concern for their own well being and concern for you. An even temperament is reassuring. Children are more likely to express themselves when it is clear their words will not trigger an unwanted response. Learn to overcome your own fear of speaking the truth will demonstrate a new skill that will be attractive and desirable in their own lives.

Initiate and participate in activities together. 

Allow plenty of time to ‘be’ together without pressure. Although we’d like to fix the damage we may have caused as soon as possible, we can not push the river. We can, however, help create conditions that are open possibilities.

Ask open ending questions. “What do you think about that?”

Give reasonable choices “Would you rather…. or ….?”

Elicit their opinion. “What do you think would be best?”

Use a gentle form of inquiry, “Tell me about…..”

These kinds of conversation starters help your child feel safe. As much as we might like, we can not force conversations and schedule exchanges. This is all part of ‘letting go and letting God’. The right timing will come if we are patient and if we are willing to allow healing conversations to occur.