I wanted to share with you an article I just posted on the blog The Addicts Mom.
What about “The Addicts” children?
Children who grow up in homes with addiction, develop survival skills, which keep them safe within their family units. The learn very early on the three golden rules.
In healthy family systems every individual is able to get their needs met.
In families with addiction, the needs of the addict are met.
No family intentionally sets it up this way. Nor do they consciously choose this.
We have a children’s program in the treatment center where I work. Bounce Back is for children between the ages of 7 – 12, who’ve been effected by addiction. I wish you could see them, but then again you probably have.
Beautiful, precious, kids, bearing the weight of addiction. On day one they’re on their best behavior. Their hyper – vigilant antennae on high alert. We hang VIP passes around their necks and everybody stops and makes a big deal over them. It’s not long before they morph back into little kids again. Noisy, giggling, curious, little kids.
It will touch your heart to see it. I’m always amazed at their resiliency. See the kids aren’t asking for a whole lot really. All that matters to them is ‘Do you see me?’
And WE do.
It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of addiction. But our kids pay a price. Kids know when they have your undivided attention. And when things don’t make sense in families, kids try and make sense out of them.
Maybe if I was a better little girl, my Daddy wouldn’t drink.
You don’t want to talk very loud in my house, it makes Daddy mad, and Mommy cries.
Mommy’s mad at Daddy all the time and she doesn’t play with us anymore.
Children take ‘it on’ without ever knowing they do. They tell me they feel ‘bad.’ Of course they don’t know ‘bad’ is just another term for shame.
Shame grows in secrecy and isolation. So does addiction.
If you have children involved in addiction they need to have a voice before developing low self worth, low self esteem and shame. Children who have no voice, often have no identity and make poor choices for themselves.
I wrote a book and my 8 year old granddaughter illustrated it. Gracie’s Secret, is about a young girl growing up in a difficult family situation. The little girl suffers from tummy aches and feels ‘bad.’ She learns a very important secret. One I wished I’d known at her age.
This book is about empowering our children and helping them find their voice. Emma and I understand how important this is and wanted to make the book available to anyone who may benefit from it.
So we have decided to make Gracie’s Secret a free download on my blog. www.jaggedlittleedges.com
If you grew up in addiction, or have children with an addict, or you’ve simply lost your voice, this little book is for you.
The only way I can make sense of this powerful illness is to share my experience, strength and hope with others and hope maybe, God willing, someone listens.
Recovery really is possible, but it’s not just ‘The Addict’ who needs to change.