One of the most important decisions you'll ever make in your life is to enter an addiction treatment center for the purpose of turning your life around—and one of the most important reasons you may have for doing so is your children.
Many people, however, struggle with finding the right words to explain to their children why they will be absent from the home for a period of time for the purpose of receiving addiction treatment. Although these conversations are never easy, following a few simple guidelines that can result in less stress and anxiety for everyone involved. Whether you need to detox from opiates or enter an alcohol detox program, here are three things you should know about talking to your kids about rehab.
Keep It Age Appropriate
Keep it short, sweet, and simple with children under the age of 10. Refer the addiction as the illness that it is rather than as the moral failing many still believe it to be, and let the children know that you're entering treatment in order to recover from the illness. Children under the age of five or so may not be able to grasp the concept of addiction, so just tell them you're sick and will have to go away for a period of time.
As far as tweens and teens, let them lead the conversation after providing them with the facts. Keep in mind that all children process things differently, so let them take this information in at their own pace—they may not have any immediate questions but will have plenty later on.
Keep It Honest
Tell your children where you will be going, how long you will be gone, and who will be caring for them in your absence. Reassure them of your love and let them know that you will be a better parent after you complete your course of treatment. Children sometimes feel as if a parent's problems with drugs or alcohol are their own fault, so be sure to stress that they are in no way to blame for your illness.
Your children may become emotional when you tell them that you'll be entering a treatment facility. If this is the case, remain calm—at this time, they need you to be calm and "in charge" of the situation. Although it is always difficult for parents and children to say goodbye, point out that the situation is only temporary and that things will be much better when you return.
For more information, contact local professionals like those found at Support Systems Homes.