Having a child who struggles with addiction is a nightmare for any parent to live through. But God promises that if you are such a parent, you are never, ever alone in this struggle. He is with you. And he will bring you the daily mercy and help you need to walk this road. Here are just a few tips for parents whose children are struggling with addiction.
There’s a big part of me that wishes I didn’t even have to write an article on the topic of addiction, especially when it comes to our children. Yet, the destructive reach that addiction has on families today, seems to be a growing problem.
Parents everywhere are trying to navigate this difficult journey, and many of them simply don’t know what to do. If this describes your situation, please know you are not alone.
Here are a few intentional things you can do for a child struggling with addiction:
1. Pray with Confidence
Praying for a child struggling with addiction might seem like a tiny Band-Aid on a gaping wound. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Prayer is the single-most effective thing we can do for children struggling with addiction. The Bible affirms the power of prayer in these verses:
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. - Psalm 145:18
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15
Let us draw near to God, call on Him, and have confidence in knowing He hears us. Children struggling with addiction need our prayers more than any earthly thing we could give.
2. Speak with Boldness
It can be difficult to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. Some things might need to be said with love and boldness. Here are a few things to consider:
- Speak God’s truth as He leads you. Resist speaking out of fear, or from your own motives.
- Speak firmly, yet lovingly. Resist letting anger get the best of you.
- Speak simply. Resist talking too much or going off on rabbit trails. Sometimes, the simplest words make the biggest difference.
Most of all, ask the Lord to guard and guide your tongue, as you approach your child with truth. The Holy Spirit will let you know when and how to speak. Allow His words to fill your mouth and be spoken in His timing.
“…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” - 1 Peter 3:15-16
3. Act on Their Behalf
The thought of intervening in your child’s addiction may seem overwhelming or even impossible. However, with the proper resources and family support, intervention might be the best route to take.
According to Family First Intervention, “One way that family members can demonstrate support for an addicted loved one is by organizing a professionally guided intervention. An intervention can be a major first step toward pushing a loved away from substance abuse and toward a healthier lifestyle in recovery.”
Do your research. Interventions should not be taken lightly. Pray and ask God to lead you to the right professionals at the right time. He will lead you in the way you should go!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6
4. Reach Out for Help Early On
Especially in the beginning stages of addiction, it may be beneficial to reach out to trusted family members and friends for support. Not only can they surround you with prayer, they can step in to be voices of reason when necessary.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to pastors, teachers, neighbors, and friends who might be able to make a real difference in your child’s life. Remember, the enemy’s ultimate goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. Don’t let him convince you to navigate your child’s addiction alone. Reach out to loved ones who can help!
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
5. Recognize Who They Really Are
Sometimes, our children act out from an inner need to be recognized and validated. While we would never want to validate an addiction, we do want to recognize our child as a person created by God for a divine purpose.
Here are some ways to recognize your child’s God-given strengths and help them recognize them as well:
- Remind them of who they are in Christ.
- Reassure them that their addiction does not define them.
- Reinforce ways for your child to live within his/her God-given strengths.
- Resist letting their addiction cloud the truth of God’s will for them.
Recognizing your child’s strengths doesn’t mean you gloss over their addiction. You can remind them of their purpose in life, while still being honest about their behavior. Do your best to help them see their purpose, and leave the rest to the Lord.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
6. Set Boundaries for Your Family
It’s awful to see the devastating effects addiction has on families. Especially when the addiction has been allowed to be the driving force of the family unit, destruction is often left in its wake.
Decide now, to set firm boundaries for yourself and your home. Say “no” to harmful behaviors around your loved ones. Make it clear to the child struggling with addiction that you cannot allow certain things—ever.
Unapologetically state your boundaries and set up safeguards to uphold them. Even if your child is angered by your boundaries, don’t let their anger stop you from enforcing healthy boundaries for the protection of your family unit.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways - Psalm 91:9-11.
While I truly wish articles like these didn’t have to be written, I’m thankful for the resources such articles offer. Parents do not need to navigate child addiction alone. There are many families going through similar situations. We need to pray for and support one another on this difficult journey. After all, that’s what being part of the body of Christ is all about.
Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.
Jennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.