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Explaining Rehab for Parents to Children: Avoid Unwanted Circumstances

While explaining rehab to your child presents significant hurdles, my experience suggests that it may be shilly-shallied if you need clarification on your child’s understanding or reaction.

Better to consider these points while discussing this with your child:

Approaching the Topic with Age-Appropriate Language and Honesty

Your child’s maturity level may affect how you explain rehab and addiction. 

“Mommy or Daddy is sick and needs to go to a special place where doctors can help them get better” works for younger children. 

For older children, say, “Mommy or Daddy has a problem with alcohol or drugs, and they need to go to a place where they can learn how to stop using them and live a healthier life.” 

Don’t lie or make empty promises.

Parents Talk Rehab with Children

Addressing Common Questions and Concerns Children may Have

Rehab for father or mother may raise many questions and considerations for the child and parent. 

Where are my parents going? How long? Can I visit? Do they return? Am I loved? Was I wrong? My fault? 

Answer these questions as best you can and reassure your child that you love them, you are not to blame, and you will return when you are ready.

Discussing the Temporary Separation and Assuring the Child’s Well-being

Dealing with separation and family routine changes while a parent goes to rehab is challenging. Your youngster may feel unhappy, angry, terrified, or lonely without you. 

Let your child know it’s alright to miss their parents and express their emotions. 

Maintaining a stable and supportive home environment, keeping up with schoolwork and activities, and communicating with their parents via phone calls, letters, or video chats (if the rehab center allows) will help your child cope.

Presenting Stories of Children Who Successfully Navigated Their Parent’s Rehab Process

It can help to hear how other kids overcame similar situations. Rehab for single moms can be more challenging. 

Books including Critters Cry Too, Timbia Talks About Addiction, Pleasure Unwoven, movies such as The Last Weekend, A Star Is Born, notorious, podcasts, and blogs feature children whose parents goes to rehab and how they coped. 

Find local or online support groups or counseling for children of addicted parents. These resources can help your youngster feel less isolated and hopeful.

Tony McKenzie

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