Parents have a deep influence on their children and this influence even stretches into adulthood. So everything we eat, say, and do should be taken into great consideration, especially when done in front of our children. However, there are times we may do something without giving it much thought as to how it may affect our children. In fact, some of us may not even give much consideration to the dangers of passing on addictive behaviors to our kids. Well, this contributed post may change your way of thinking, I know it has changed mine…
How many times have you heard a parent say “I need a drink”, “I need a smoke” or even “I need coffee” in front of their children? These may seem like fairly benign statements but even these seemingly tiny announcements can unknowingly push your children into addictive behavior patterns. As parents, we all want to ensure that we raise our children to be happy and healthy in every sense. We want to make sure that they are physically and emotionally engaged, well nourished and stress-free. We want them to give them the best parts of our upbringing while insulating them from the things that saddened and upset us throughout our upbringings.
Even seemingly benign addictions can be harmful
Despite our best intentions, life sometimes gets in the way, and we can find ourselves passing on some of the least flattering aspects of our personalities onto our kids, especially in times of stress or emotional agitation. While there’s evidence to suggest that the children of drug addicts and alcoholics are statistically more likely to fall into addictive behaviors in their adult lives, you don’t have to have an addiction that merits a stay at the Recovery In Motion treatment center to pass on unhelpful and even damaging behaviors to your kids.
Even seemingly benign addictions like those to coffee, chocolate or anything else that provides a fleeting psychological and emotional pick me up in times of stress can be picked up on and emulated by our kids.
Passing on your addictive behaviors can warp and damage your kids’ development regardless of the substance in question. Whether we’re talking about illicit drugs or sugar, it makes little difference to a developing mind. When we see addictive patterns in our parents, it’s likely to affect us in specific ways when we grow up.
Not only can it push us towards impulsive, reckless or addictive behaviors, it can warp our interpersonal relationships. It can cause us to see ourselves as victims and gravitate towards others who display victim like behaviors thinking that we can save them. It can give us disproportionate feelings of guilt that we try to offset with acts of self-sacrifice. It can lead us to become emotionally withdrawn due to fear of commitment and emotional vulnerability and it can push us to exert near ruthless control over our lives in ways that sour our relationships with others. If we’re to help our kids grow into emotionally healthy adults, it’s important to address our addictive and impulsive behaviors.
So what can you do?
Most of us fall into the arms of our addictions when we are unable to cope with stress and emotional turmoil in our day to day lives. This means that we must address the causes of our addiction and deal with our stressors in healthy and productive ways to model appropriate responses for our kids. This can mean channeling your frustrations into exercise or other productive hobbies or meditating in order to quiet and reorganize your mind.
The more you can involve your kids in the process the better. They’ll learn that dealing productively with life’s quotidian stressors is more productive than jumping to an addictive quick fix.
When you think about addictive behaviors, you may think about habits such as drugs or gambling but an addiction can be other things such as food, shopping, or even running. Teaching these habits on to our children makes them easier to pick up but we all know that the longer you have a habit the harder it is to put it down.
Making healthy choices will not only give your body the defenses it needs to fight off stress it will help you teach your child healthy behaviors that they can use as adults. The sooner they learn it the easier it will be for them to fight any addictions in the future.
As parents, we want the best for our children but we don’t always make the best choices for ourselves. We are responsible for our children’s physical and emotional well-being and we will get the best results by making the right choices for ourselves.
Do you have any addictive behaviors that you feel you need to change? Are there any tips you can share to help fight addiction?
I would love to hear your tips below!