What is Addiction?
Addiction, properly understood, is neither a disease to be cured—though it has aspects of a disease—nor a problem to be eliminated. On the contrary, addiction is the individual’s attempt to solve a quandary. Before we can address addiction, this simple fact must be understood.
As a parent, watching your child struggle with addiction can be heart-wrenching. The way you respond can significantly impact your child's recovery journey. This blog post will delve into two different parenting styles - controlling and connecting - and how they influence a child grappling with addiction.
Understanding Addiction in Children
Addiction can manifest in various forms, such as problematic substance use or problematic gaming. Recognizing the signs of addiction, which may include changes in behavior, declining academic performance, and social withdrawal, is the first step towards helping your child. An important note here about recognizing behavior change is that you absolutely honor your intuition. Do not hesitate at first sign and immediately contact a professional. Tell them what you see, what you fear about what you see and what you hope.
The Controlling Parenting Style
The controlling parenting style, often referred to as authoritarian, is characterized by strict rules, high expectations, and a focus on obedience. Parents who adopt this style may believe that their firm hand can steer their child away from addictive behaviors. However, this approach can sometimes lead to resentment, rebellion, and further secrecy about their addictive habits.
The Connecting Parenting Style
In contrast, the connecting parenting style, also known as authoritative, involves open communication, understanding, and emotional support. Parents who use this style strive to foster a deep emotional connection with their child. They aim to understand the root cause of their child's addiction and provide support throughout the recovery process. This approach can make it easier for the child to open up about their struggles, making it easier for parents to provide the necessary help.
Comparing and Contrasting Controlling and Connecting Parenting Styles
While both parenting styles stem from a place of concern and love for the child, their impact on a child struggling with addiction can be vastly different. The controlling style can create a hostile environment, making the child feel judged and misunderstood. On the other hand, the connecting style can create a safe space for the child to express their feelings and struggles, promoting healing and recovery.
Research supports the effectiveness of the connecting parenting style in dealing with children struggling with addiction. For instance, a study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that adolescents with authoritative parents were less likely to engage in problematic substance use. This highlights the importance of maintaining open communication and emotional connection when dealing with such sensitive issues.
Navigating the challenging path of a child's addiction requires patience, understanding, and a lot of heart. While the controlling parenting style may seem effective in the short term, it will not provide the supportive environment needed for recovery. On the other hand, the connecting parenting style can foster a relationship based on trust and understanding, providing the child with the emotional support necessary for overcoming addiction.
If you need help navigating the landscape of treatment and recovery, click here.