Communicating with your Child During (and After) Treatment
At times, communicating with your child, especially during adolescence is difficult. Parents want to be heard and the teen wants to avoid serious conversations.
Here are some simple (but hard) rules to follow when communicating with your child:
- Recognize that staying clean and sober is tough. The changes your child is going through are complicated and not easy. It means giving up best friends (both people and drugs) your child has come to depend on.
- Don’t allow your anger to get in your way. Your child never expected to have these problems. No one tries drugs/alcohol thinking they will become addicted.
- Be respectful. Modeling that behavior, by listening, not cursing and not talking over your child will help him/her do the same.
- Be willing to listen even when you do not like what your child is saying. You will want him/her to listen even when they do not like what you are saying.
- Try to communicate when you can be face-to-face and not distracted. If that fails, set aside time to talk. Even if it is in the car, you can make your car a ‘technology free zone’.
- Don’t expect your child to automatically agree with you even when you are being reasonable. Addictions, the adolescent brain, and past history can make it difficult for teens to agree with their parents. Keep trying, and remember: you are the parent—ultimately, what you say has the most weight.
- When in conflict, suggest meeting with a counselor or talking later when everyone is calmer. Even adults (and older kids) need time to consider and cool off.
- When you want to share something important, write out your points so that you don’t forget or become too emotional. It allows you to stay on topic.
- Never try to communicate about any serious issues if you think your child is high or drinking (or if you are high or have been drinking).
- Remember you will make mistakes. That’s ok. Like all skills, practice makes progress. Never stop trying and never give up on yourself or your child.
While these rules will not guarantee successful communication, they will certainly help you have more talking and less arguing.
ASAP is Cincinnati’s premiere outpatient treatment center for teenagers and their families struggling with substance use.
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