We know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, but with the opioid epidemic comes a new second-hand danger. Children are being shuffled around. Friends and families are stepping forward to help, but the children are hurting. Here’s what you need to know if you’re raising someone else’s kid.
1. Addiction Is A Family Disease That Affects Generations
According to Generations United, more than 1 out of 3 kids are placed in foster care because of their parents alcohol or drug use. Even if the parent has quit using or drinking, or even if the substance abuse was two generations removed, this generation is still impacted. In recovery, we talk about the generational sins of substance and alcohol abuse. One of the most common side effects is fear, and often the fear is constant. The children you are raising are terrified, and their fear shows up as:
Some kids are afraid they’ll never see their parents again. Others are afraid they will. Loud noises, smells, places, and foods can all trigger flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares.
2. You Don’t Have To Accept Unacceptable Behavior
Almost all kids test boundaries. Most kids are master manipulators, and many were born with the ability to make puppy dog eyes at will. They sense weaknesses and pounce. Like most marriages, raising someone else’s kid will have a honeymoon stage. Be advised, the honeymoon ends. Reading up on boundaries during the honeymoon will help you prepare for the upcoming drama. When correcting behaviors, you can say, “That doesn’t work for me.”
3. Don’t Fuel The Fire
When you must enforce boundaries, it’s often scary and uncomfortable. Further, enforcing boundaries initiates conflict, and sometimes arguments break out. Keeping these two things in mind helps you keep the peace:
- Just because she’s mad doesn’t mean you’re bad. Your feelings aren’t connected to the child’s like a yo-yo. Let her feel her feelings independently from you.
- “You might be right,” almost always ends arguments. Your foster son or daughter might be right. You might be right, and in an alternate universe, you might both be right.
4. What Happened In The Womb Doesn’t Stay In The Womb
If the child’s biological Mom drank or used any number of drugs (including legally prescribed meds) during pregnancy, the child may have lasting birth defects. These defects often go undiagnosed. These children may present with ADHD like symptoms, and they may act too young for their age. Often, these kids need extra help in school. Frequently, alcohol-exposed children struggle with Math. You might have to meet with the child’s teachers to discuss accommodations and interventions.
Sometimes, raising someone else’s kid requires professional help. Recovery Guidance provides an exhaustive list of counselors and therapists.
Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here try our self-assessment guide.
Leave a comment below
Pam is the author of Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and she's a contributing editor for Recovery Guidance. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.