The Effect on Children When Parents Use Drugs Imagine if the two people you admire the most, the two people who set the example of how life should be, just stopped taking care of you and neglected your individual needs. What could be the reason your parents have chosen to withdraw from your life? If you could examine this picture more closely, you would see that these "types" of parents are the ones who are addicted to drugs and stray away from the needs of their own children. These parents do not realize the neglect they are showing for their children; they are not in the right state of mind to even consider what the child needs. Neglect is not the only risk involved by parents using drugs; this behavior could also result in their own children experimenting with drugs and the child could possibly get addicted themselves. Also, children are more susceptible to be lured in by peer pressure because they receive a delusional picture of what drugs are. They misunderstand how harmful drugs are because they see their parents using drugs, and children look up to their parents for guidance. There are many dangers involved when parents decide to use drugs when they have children. Dangers that parents face when deciding to use drugs are neglect of their children, increased possibility of their children using drugs, and also the children will not know the dangers of using drugs and are more prone to falling into the trap of peer pressure.
Simply stating these risks are not as believable until one actually sees it happen to a particular family. When my father was growing up, my grandfather was an excessive alcoholic. My father can not remember a moment when he saw him sober. Today, two of my father's brothers are alcoholics; they started drinking at an early age of seventeen. My grandfather was truly a horrible father to his children. He did not know how to treat his kids; he never communicated with them. This is a form of emotional neglect, and because of this neglect all three of my uncles and my dad have no idea how to talk or express themselves. They can not even talk to their own children or wives. My father and uncles were drinking when they were young, but only two of the four turned into alcoholics. When my grandfather died, one of my uncles was drunk at the funeral and was asked to leave by our family. This is what happens when parents use drugs while raising children.
Parents using drugs tend to forget about the needs of their children. These needs do not have to be physical; children can be emotionally deprived as well. Not getting the love a child needs could result in lowered self-esteem and confidence, or possibly depression. Children's emotions are very strong and easily hurt, therefore resulting in the child assuming parents do not care for them, or even worse, not love them. Children suffering neglect from their parents will not be able to understand how a caring parent acts. Parents neglecting their children lose touch in communication, which results in a loss of communication skills for the child. Not learning proper communication skills at an early age can effect children for the rest of their life. They will not know how to talk to their parents, they will not know how to talk to their friends and teachers, and they will certainly not know how to talk to their own children. Neglected children end up doing everything for themselves, which shows the children have more responsibility than the parents do. It should not be that way, but the sad part is parents do not realize what their children do because they are never around to witness it.
The more time children see or know their parents use drugs, the less they will know about the dangers of using drugs. This could result in an increased possibility of the child starting to use drugs and becoming addicted. According to Parents, "Most of the time children's first encounters with drug use is the example set by adults at home." (Elkind 164). Children see their parents use drugs and automatically feel drugs are not dangerous and could actually feel comfortable using them because their parents do. "Because parents are generally the most powerful role models in their child's life, the example you set is more powerful than anything others can say." (Gomer 169). Also, because children admire and look up to their parents, children are always trying to be just like them. If a mother is going out to dinner and is all dressed up, the daughter tends to want to get dressed up, also. In the same respect, if a mother or father uses drugs, a child will feel compelled to use drugs so they can be like their parents. Kids are always imitating parents because they are so in love with them that they have to express it. So when parents use drugs, they are sending a very dangerous message to their kids. If a parent uses drugs, there is a great possibility their kids will turn to drugs. "The motivations for kids using drugs were primarily 'to feel order' and 'to have a good time'." (Grotter 26). In other words, when a child sees a parent using drugs, it looks like the parent is having fun. Therefore, a child wants to have the same fun as their parents, so they start using drugs. Kids do not realize what they are doing is wrong because they are only trying to be and act like mom and dad (Spock).
One article "Dutiful Daughter", offered a solution for children living with parents who use drugs. This author believes that the children should turn their parents into the police. This would result in parents getting help and also parents realizing their children care for and love them. It would also show the children that just because their parents are using drugs does not mean they are not harmful. This would result in children straying away from experimenting with drugs themselves and possibly getting addicted (Robert 18). If parents are on drugs, they should be turned in to correct their ways and show their children they really want to change (Vertman 4).
When parents use drugs around their children, these children are more susceptible to being peer pressured into using drugs. Children seeing parents on drugs think that it is the right thing to do since children look up to their parents as an example of how to behave. Children do not bother to ask if what their parents are doing is right or wrong, they just accept it because everything mom and dad do is right. This is the attitude children have for parents, and this is also the attitude they carry when in school and being around friends. Therefore, when friends are pressuring the child into using drugs, the child does not think of it as pressure, they think of it as other kids wanting to have fun. See, the child really does not know that other parents do not do drugs; they accept the fact because it must be the "grown-up" thing to do. These kids are much more easily lured into trying drugs, and these kids could also be the ones who pressure other kids into using drugs. Children will grow up with the attitude that using drugs is fun and the mature thing to do. The only thing that will transform their attitude on drugs is if the parents stop using drugs around their children. The parents also need to explain the harmful effects of drugs and explain what they were doing was wrong. Children need to hear from their parents in order to understand the consequences and dangers of drugs (Grotter 26).
On the other side of the issue, not all children will grow up to be bad parents or drug addicts. Sometimes, when a child grows up in an unhealthy environment of drugs and alcohol, it results in motivation for the child to be the best parent for their child as possible. Parents always want a better life for their child than what they had, therefore children that grew up around drugs are more than determined to keep drugs out of their child's life. The parent will teach the harmful effects of drugs at an early age, and also keep a close eye on the kind of friends their child has. Because the child's parent was a drug addict, they will know the warning signs of someone on drugs. They will be able to tell if any of their child's friends are on drugs, or even if their child is on drugs. A child that grew up on drugs will learn to hate everything that drugs stands for. They will be disgusted by them and never have an urge to experience drugs (Robert 18). Seeing their parents on drugs was a lesson enough to know the negative effects drugs could have on an individual, especially on a parent.
When parents use drugs around their children, they are giving them a false perception of what drugs are and the harmful effects associated with drugs. These children are facing great danger because the two people they admire the most are setting the worst example possible for them. Parents start neglecting their children, which results in a loss of communication skills as they grow up. Children face a higher risk of using drugs and a higher risk of becoming addicted themselves. These children are more easily to become pressured into drugs because they do not see it as a pressure; they see it as fun because they see their parents doing it. On the other side, being around parents who were drug addicts only influences their choice of never using drugs themselves. Also, children that grow up around drugs find it motivational for raising their children in a drug-free environment. Their worst fear is to see their children venture into experimentation with drugs. Their incentive for this is to give their children a prosperous life that they never once had.
Elkind, David. "Drug Abuse and Teenagers." Parents February 1987: 164.
Gomer, James. "Talking About Drugs and Alcohol." Parents Februaury 1992: 169.
Grotter, Mike. "Dutiful Daughter." Time August 25, 1986: 26.
Robert, John. "Parents and Drugs." New York Times April 1991: 18.
Spock, Benjamin. (1998, April 14). "Drugs, Smoking, and Other Risks." Available from: http://www.pathfinder.com/parenttime.
Vertman, Sandy. "The Right Spirit." The New Republic September 8, 1986: 4+.