“This week, children of addicted parents will receive international attention. The Bensow Foundation has launched the campaign week under the name “Notice the Children of Alcoholic Families!” (“Se anhörigbarnet!”) in Finland. The aim of the campaign is to break the silence and offer support and hope to children living with an adult who drinks too much.”
The campaign aims to break the silence and offer support and hope to children living with an adult who drinks too much. With these tips, you can be part of the change.
- Show that you can talk about it
Approximately one in four children in Finland has a parent with a risk or addiction, but we still talk about it quite a bit. This creates a stigma and shame and makes the children affected do not dare to talk about their situation. Find out information about addiction problems in families and show by your own example that you can talk about it! Talk about the theme in a general way and give information about how to get support, but do not single out any child.
- Creating trust and opportunities to speak
Having safe adults in everyday life is an important protective factor for children growing up in families with addiction problems. Build trust by being friendly, encouraging, interested, sharing yourself and showing that you care. Provide opportunities to talk by asking how children are doing and how they are doing at home in quiet moments when no one else is listening. Continue to offer opportunities to tell even if you meet resistance, but avoid being pushy and let children take the time they need to tell.
- Listen and show understanding
When the child is brave enough to tell you about his or her family situation, the most important thing is that you listen and show appreciation for the fact that the child is confiding in you. Show that you care and understand, but try to stay calm. If you give advice, it is important to be honest and tell the truth, but often it is enough to let the child tell you. Help the child to find support, for example in the form of counselling and peer support, but also continue to be there for the child yourself – even if you need to make a child protection report. Understand that the family situation may affect the child’s behaviour and functioning and that small adjustments may be needed, for example at school. Children with addiction problems in the family often want to be treated like any other child – avoid feeling sorry for them and singling them out in front of other children.
Visit Stiftelsen Bensow (Finland) “Our main task is to work for the safe upbringing of all children in the whole of Swedish Finland. We strive to ensure that vulnerable children receive the right support at a sufficiently early stage.”