Going to rehab may be the best way for you to offer yourself and your children a better future. Taking this step is likely to involve at least some sacrifice, but it will be worth it if it leads to lasting sobriety. This type of programme can give you the environment, resources, and support you need to change and it greatly increases the likelihood of you staying sober long-term. If you have a child though, it can be hard for them to understand the need for this separation (although there are some rehabs that allow children to stay with their mother).
Explaining the Need for Rehab to a Child
If you have been drinking or using drugs, it will almost certainly have had an impact on your home life. If you have been a high functioning addict, you may have been able to hide much of this behaviour but children have a great ability to sense when something is wrong. The behaviour is likely to have had a negative effect on your children, but they may just assume that it is normal. A child who grows up in a home in which there is a lot of substance abuse can develop a high tolerance to this type of behaviour, which can make it harder for them to understand the need for rehab.
Children do not see the world in the same way that adults do, so they can feel very threatened by the loss of a parent – even when it is only for a short period. This is why it is so important to properly prepare them for this temporary separation. As long as care is taken to help them understand what is happening, it needs not to be a major disruption to their life.
Tips for Explaining the Need for Rehab to a Child
The most important thing when having this type of conversation with a child is that you take into account their age and maturity. There is not much point going into a long explanation of addiction for a five year old, and too much information could be a bit overwhelming and confusing. You know you child best, but try to keep things simple and make sure that any material you show them is age-appropriate.
If you just start talking to your child about what is going to happen without first doing a bit of planning, it is more likely to be confusing for them. Just take some time to plan what it is that you want to say. It is also important that you plan to have this conversation at an appropriate time – for example, it is probably not a good idea to start talking about this stuff right before bedtime or as they are on their way out the door to school.
It is usually a mistake to lie to your kids about what is about to happen. You may think that this is making things easier for them but, if they suspect dishonesty, it will make them feel even more insecure. Children can have a remarkable ability to detect when adults are being untruthful, so it is probably a bad idea to risk it.
Give your child the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns. It is often the case that kids end up worrying over something that would never have been an issue if things had been explained properly. It is also a good idea to ask your child questions to make sure they properly understand what you are saying.
Provide your kids with information about the rehab. This could include showing them pictures of where you are going to be staying. It may be possible to bring your child along with you for a visit, so this may be worth doing – you just need to make sure that this is something the rehab allows.