Toddler Of Addict
Posted: February 9, 2017, 5:07 PM

Hello my son in law is and addict of 8 years on and off. This is his 7 relapse in 3 years.
Each time my DD has him leave. He is living in his car and using meth.
My sweet grand asks why daddy is gone again?
Any ideas what to say? If he was deployed we would talk about it. In the hospital with cancer we would talk about that.
But what to even say? I'm with my grand daily while my DD works
Thank you everyone
Posted: February 9, 2017, 5:22 PM

OP here
Sorry can this be moved to family?
I'm new to this and posted in wrong place I think
Posted: February 10, 2017, 12:52 AM

Posts: 243
Joined: August 18, 2016

I'm so sor ry you family has been touched by addiction. For young children, it is a very confusing and scary thing. There are things we can do to help, though!

For the record, I am an addict in recovery for 3+ years. I have been married for twenty and I have an autistic daughter who is 18. Her mental capacity is about that of a seven year old. She is into barbie and disney princesses..she still believes in santa. She is absolutely the sweetest thing on earth. My husband and I have had to have "age appropriate" conversations regarding addiction. We met with a pediatric psychologist for some pointers.

First, the priority is the child's safety. That means not leaving her alone with someone in active addiction. Even a minute to jump in the shower can have deadly consequences. The addict could easily lose balance with the child in his arms and fall down the stairs..they could nod off and start a fire..the child could injest drugs left carelessly about etc. No matter what the inconvenience, ALWAYS make sure the child is with a sober adult. I would not even consider leaving her alone with an addict who has under a year of continuous sobriety. (in my case it was a year and a half before I was allowed to be alone with my daughter or drive her anywhere! I was pissed at the time, but I would never forgive myself if I had hurt her, and there were relapses in the beginning that could have been dangerous. Now that I am in recovery, I can see it as a very loving thing my husband did for my daughter, though at the time I had a very hard time with it.)

To explain to a child the abscence of a parent due to addiction, I feel it is important to be honest and age appropriate. In no way is it healthy to drag children into adult problems. This includes having them "watch" the adult to make sure they don't use, asking the child to do things such as "Daddy is sick and you can make him feel better with a hug". It is never a child's responsibility to be an emotional support for an adult.

I would simply say, "I know you miss your Daddy and he loves you very much! Right now he is sick and he needs to be away so the doctor's can help him get healthy again. He loves you very much and as soon as he is better, you will be able to see him again." I had a problem with this because what if the parent never gets better? The therapist we saw suggested that we say the above. If circumstances change, such as finding recovery quickly or God forbid, causing the death of the addict, THEN you would follow up with other age appropriate explainations.

Our therapist encouraged us to send pictures, letters and cards. That was great for my daughter as she felt extremely special to get "her own mail" and it reinforced my love for her. I understand not every addict is able to do this. In that case, it is the available adults job to reinforce that there is an illness the parent is trying to get better from and that they are loved and that NOTHING they did contributed to the addicted parent leaving. Children have an uncanny way of blaming themselves for these things.

I would encourage conversations that are initiated by the child. She may have questions about things she saw (injection drug use, mood swings, violence) or what she can do. We have to remind children that these are grown-up issues and their job is playing and having friends and doing well in school...for a child, that should be the only things on their plate.

While honesty is important, as secrecy only compounds a child's confusion and fear, we must always make sure that our explanations are age appropriate. I would suggest consulting with a child psychologist who can advise you on what is best for your situation.

It may be tempting to tell a child there parent is a selfish addict who doesn't give a rat's a**, but as an addict, that isn't true. In active addiction, even though we are obsessed with using, not getting sick, getting money and all the other crap that goes with addiction, we are very aware that we are not doing what is best for our kids...and I for one HATED myself for it, yet felt unable to change.

Having my daughter removed from my care was my personl "straw that broke the camels back". I grew up in chaos and I did not want her to grow up that way. Very soon after I was kicked out, I sought recovery.

I'm sorry for what you are going through. Just know that there is NOTHING you can do to make an addict use..or recover. It is theirs alone. A wonderful poster named Constantine here says "his monkey, his circus!" I emplore you not to buy popcorn and pull up a front row seat to the trainwreck that is happening. There are many groups online and in the community to help family members detatch from the active addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life in spite of it all! CoDA(co-dependents anonymous), Al-Anon (family program counterpart to AA) or Nar-Anon(family counterpart to NA...not to be confused with Narconon..which is scientology weirdness).

Sorry for any misspelled words...I'm on a teeny-tiny mobile device and proofreading is difficult! Check out some of the posts on this board..there are people with waaaaay more experience than I have who may be able to offer some more advice! Take care, keep the faith! We do get better, often inspite of ourselves! I am living proof!

This post has been edited by lolleedee on February 10, 2017, 12:57 AM
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