The Codependent Relationship: Mother and Child

shutterstock_135236594  The bond between mother and child is something that no other relationship can quite match. When addiction is involved in this relationship, it is seriously damaging to the healthy functioning of all relationships.

Codependency, described simply, is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency is unique between a mother and child because of the nature of the relationship. Mothers are meant to be nurturing and caring individuals. But when their child is addicted to drugs, their caring and nurturing may be doing more harm than good.

Mothers of those addicted will often times go above and beyond to make sure that their child has everything that they need. Buying food, clothes, paying rent, and giving them shutterstock_70611019money. Some go as far as buying the drugs for their child. In their eyes, they are doing well by their child, making sure that they are able to keep on living. These mothers struggle to focus on themselves in any way at all. They will put their lives aside to make sure that their child will continue to come back to them for what they need.

The child will manipulate in order to get what they want. They will say hateful and hurtful things in order to break their mother down. They will be deceptive and lie in order to get more money. The child is trying to stay sick, and they know that their mother will do anything to keep them happy and alive.

shutterstock_9303223This relationship is extremely toxic and allows for the addiction to continue. So what are some way to recover from codependency?

  • Attend family recovery programs with the addicted

  • Learn to put your interests and needs before others

  • Become aware of the signs of codependent behaviour

  • Develop strong boundaries

With these strategies and professional help, codependency is something that you and your family can recover from.

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Experimenting During the Teen Years: Substance Abuse in Youth

shutterstock_107588312Adolescence is a time in a child’s life in which many changes are occurring. It can be an extremely confusing and trying time for them, as well as their parents. As their parents, it is important that you educate your children about drugs, alcohol, sex, and what it means to be “peer pressured”. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is essential in order to be in the loop of what is going on in their lives.

Your child may decide to experiment with any combination of the above listed, however, there comes a time when drug/alcohol use shifts to drug/alcohol abuse. How honest they are, if they come home intoxicated regularly, if they spend a lot of spare time at parties, and the friends that they choose to surround themselves bullyingwith are all great indicators of substance abuse.

Lying or hiding things may be an indication that your child is using or abusing substances. This is not true in all cases. It is normal for them to want their space and private life. However, when they are lying about large things (where they are, where they are going, what they are doing) it can be cause for concern. If you and your child have a healthy and functioning relationship in which they are comfortable communicating with you, they shouldn’t feel the need to hide from you. It is important to approach them from a loving and caring place, avoiding accusatory statements. Give them the opportunity to open up to you.

If your child is coming home intoxicated on a regular basis, it could be an indication that they are abusing substances. Using substances may be a way for your child to escape the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. However, using substances as a coping strategy is not healthy. This is another reason it is very important that you keep an open line of communication with your child.shutterstock_70611019

Older adolescents are fairly likely to attend parties. It is naïve to not think that at some (if not all) of these parties alcohol will be served and drugs will be offered, especially if there is not appropriate supervision. Your child may opt to spend more time than not a parties. It is important that you educate your child about the dangers of participating in underage drinking as well as drug use of any kind.

The friends that your child chooses to spend their time with is a good indicator as to whether or not they will be pressured to try alcohol and/or drugs. Now it is impossible to judge a book by its cover, however, it is important to know the other children your child associates with. Knowing who they are and what they are like will give you a good indication of the likelihood that they consume alcohol/use drugs. Again, it is extremely important to educate your child about peer pressure and the dangers of consuming alcohol/drugs.

It is impossible to completely protect your child from being exposed to alcohol and/or drugs. With the normalization of alcohol and/or drug use during adolescence, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to make their children understand the risks and repercussions that their activities can have on their lives as well as the lives of others. The best thing that you can do is give them the facts, and encourage them to make good choices.

ACOA: How Alcoholism Effects Your Children as Adults

Alcohol abuse in a family deeply effects how the children in the family will respond to alcohol. One path these effects could take is your children also abusing alcohol and other drugs. This is because it would become a learned and acceptable coping strategy for your children when faced with difficult situations. The other path that these effects could take is that your children would avoid use of alcohol all together. This avoidance can go as far as fear of becoming addicted themselves. It is important to be aware of the effects that your drinking has on your family members, especially your children. Children learn mainly through observation. If they see alcoholism, they are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. So what can you do to ensure that your children receive the treatment that they may also need?

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Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) is a branch of Al-Anon (support group for family members of alcholics) that focuses specifically on the adult children of alcoholics. ACoA exists to help educate and heal; educate about alcoholism and heal the scars left by their parent’s substance abuse. ACoA is a peer based support group, aimed at helping recovery within the family.

ACoA gives these children the opportunity to focus on their own recovery, all while their family member works on their own recovery. Often times, individuals will reach out to ACoA before their parent has decided to seek help. This is because they feel the need to know more about alcoholism than their family member has told them. They want to see past the drinking, and the other behaviours, into the causes of the alcoholism. Sometimes they just want support in making decisions regarding their relationship with their alcoholic parent.

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Recovery is something that the entire family must go through. It is impossible for the addicted parent to have a successful recovery, if they are coming home to the same environment that they left. The children are responsible for learning what the triggers and warning signs are, to help their parent work through a relapse or help to prevent one from happening. Part of this recovery process is learning about codependency and what role they may have played in enabling the parent’s behaviours. It is also a time to reflect of manipulative behaviours that have been exhibited in the past. By doing so, they can learn a better way in which to handle these situations.

Alcoholism often has a greater effect than we sometimes realise. It is important that all parties are considered when dealing with the recovery process. Ensuring that all family members, including the adult children, have a place to seek support is very important. Without recovery within the family, true recovery may not be successful within the addict.

ADHD and Obesity

 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that can cause much turmoil in a young person’s life. The difficulties associated with this disorder can last a  lifetime if left untreated, leading to more problems later on in life. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to a lack of development in the brain, immaturity for age, social disconnectedness, and it puts them at higher risk to develop an addiction.

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ADHD causes problems in the child’s home, school, and social life, which can in turn lead to a variety of other disorders. It is important that parents, doctors, and educators are aware of the symptoms and ask the questions that need to be put forth.

A significant number of cases are diagnosed each year, leading to more and more children being put on medications and families seeking therapy. There are a significant number of interventions that can be used to treat ADHD, medication being recommended for the most severe cases. A combination of counselling and lifestyle changes can often make a large difference in the child’s life. ADHD may carry over into adolescence and adulthood, however, many develop coping strategies to combat the symptoms.

There have been links made between ADHD and obesity. Links have been made to obesity and the use of medication, as well as the impulsive nature of some of those diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD and obesity in childhood can predispose you to obesity in adulthood. Dieting and children are not something that go hand in hand, so what can you do to help your child?

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Making healthy lifestyle choices (i.e. eating right, exercising, etc.) is an easy and effective way to combat obesity in your family. Choosing to educate your child about eating habits and awareness of eating choices can help them develop a better sense of themselves and their choices. Allowing enough time for sleep, meals, and exercise will contribute to a happier and healthier child. Often times we may choose to stimulate our children with things like television and the computer. But everything has their time and place. Finding a balance between physical activity and time spent indoors is important.

We all want our children to grow up feeling happy, healthy, and loved. Let’s work together to make the next generation stronger, more aware, and empowered.

Bullying

What seems like harmless teasing usually isn’t just harmless teasing. Bullying is something that has been an ever growing concern in the past 10 years. With the invention of social media forums like Facebook and Twitter, bullies are taking their leave from the school yard and becoming predators to their classmates online. But where has this come from? What is bullying, and what can we as parents and caregivers do to stop it and prevent it from happening again? By answering these questions, as well as a number of others, we can begin to understand bullying and how we can help our kids.

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Bullying is when someone hurts or intimidates another person on purpose. The person being hurt and/or intimated also has a hard time defending themselves. There are many ways that young children/adolescents can bully each other, even if they don’t realize that they are hurting the other person at the time. Some forms of bullying include:

  • Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically.

  • Spreading bad rumours about people (whether it is online or in person).

  • Keeping certain people out of a group.

  • Teasing people in a mean way (name calling, sarcasm, teasing,).

  • Getting certain people to “gang up” on others.

  • Threatening and racism.

  • Using the internet/text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours, or make fun of another.

  • Sexual interference.

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Whether or not the bully knows that they are bullying, any of the above listed behaviours are not acceptable. It is actions like these that can drive children into a depression. It can bring on loneliness, unhappiness, and fear. It can make the child feel unsure and unsafe about going to school. Bullying, in the most extreme forms, has been known to drive some adolescents to suicide. There is absolutely no reason for any child to feel this helpless and alone. There is also no reason for any child to feel that they are unsafe going to school or that they are going to be punished by their peers. As parents and caregivers it can be near impossible to identify if your child is being bullied. However, it is very important to maintain an open line of communication so that your child can feel comfortable coming to you about being bullied.

So what can we do? As mentioned before it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child so that they can feel comfortable coming to you when they are being bullied. In schools a zero-tolerance for bullying behaviours has been adapted. This has proven successful in the reduction of bullying but there are more things that educators can do. By developing programs for bullying awareness and interventions in bullying situations, schools can better protect and help those students that may fall victim to bullying.