Substance dependence and other addictions are influenced by many factors including genetics, environment and personal character, but the family plays a key role in shaping the development of children. Because children often take on the habits of their parents, family dynamics are very important.
Healthy parenting is one of the most powerful factors in preventing substance abuse and addiction.
The family provides several crucial elements necessary for the development and growth of their child:
Protection. A healthy family can often protect children from many dangerous behaviors and mental health risks, including substance abuse and crime, by providing a sense of emotional security. While there’s never a guaranteed solution for addiction, by meeting their basic needs, providing stability, instilling safety and encouraging their development, families can do a great deal to protect children from having to experience the pain of addiction.
Relationship. How a teenager chooses his friends depends largely on the relationship he has with his parents. When teens have a good relationship with their parents, they are more likely to choose friends who have a positive influence. At home, parents should be consistent and loving with discipline and encourage children to acquire healthy, well-rounded social skills.
Love. When parents don’t take a healthy interest in their children’s lives during early development, fail to show them affection or provide emotional security, children can have a higher risk of depression, anxiety and relationship problems while they are teens or later on when they are adults.
That said, the following are family factors that are critical to help protect children and young people against substance abuse:
- A loving, safe and healthy parent-child relationship
- Supervision, parental monitoring and effective discipline
- Transfer of pro-social family values
- Interest of parents in their children’s lives and well-being
- Parental support (emotional, cognitive, social and financial)
Of course in the “outside world”, that is, outside the family, there are many opportunities for children to be introduced to drugs or alcohol, but with proper education and values, even these challenges can be successfully navigated.
The following are red flags that should be taken into account if they are practiced within the family circle:
- Lack of ties of affection and an insecure relationship with parents
- Lack of a significant relationship with a caring adult
- Ineffective education
- Chaotic home environment
- Parents or siblings abuse substances, suffer from mental illness or are involved in criminal acts
- Social isolation
The best way to fight with addictions is PREVENTION, so do not be afraid to talk to your children and be there whenever they need you.
To help you get the conversation started, we have compiled a list of helpful guidelines in our blog post Teaching Your Kids about Alcohol: 5 DOs and DON’Ts.