What Can You Do if Your Teen Is Dating an Addicted Person?
If you are a parent to a teenager, dating is probably one of the active issues of concern in your mind. What if you find out that your teenager is dating a young person who has substance addiction? Many parents can enter into serious confrontations with their teen children in this situation. Yes, you might fear that addiction might influence your own child through such a relationship. However, maybe it is wise to first sit back, become informed about substance addiction, and seek professional advice on how to approach the issue.
How to Offer Healthy Parental Advice on Teen Decision-Making
Most parents want the best for their children. They also want their teenagers to gradually learn about making independent decisions. When it comes to teen dating, parents might be at loss about how to advise on choosing healthy relationships. Does dating someone with substance addiction mean it is bound to be an unhealthy relationship? There are certainly many real-life examples showing the harm and trauma such relationships can cause, but a parent’s reaction also needs to consider healthy boundaries.
Many parents react poorly because they care too much about the teenager, and the thinking of a toxic relationship can cloud a parent’s rational judgment. Teenagers are known for doing the exact opposite of what their parents tell them to do. So no matter what advice a parent needs to give, there are healthier principles on how to do it.
First, parents should not ignore the problem, thinking that it’s their teenager’s freedom to date whoever he or she likes. This might help you avoid an intense conflict for the present moment, but it is not the best way to parent a teenager. You need to start the conversation, but before that, you need to be educated and informed about the influence that drugs and alcohol use can have on teen dating.
Second, when having the conversation about this teen dating relationship, take a learning posture by showing interest in knowing your teenager’s boyfriend or girlfriend as a person. You should not let stigma and prejudice cloud this conversation, either. Approach your teenager with an attitude of, “I hope to learn more about this young person’s struggle with substance addiction.”
What You Should and Shouldn't Do When Advising on Teen Dating
It is important to set rules that make communication with your teen open and continuous. Through this open communication channel, you can educate them on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. Try to connect substance use and behavioral problems to show the association there. All relationships need hard work, and teen dating is no exception. Make yourself available as emotional support to your teenager when their romantic relationship gets rocky.
You can sense if there are signs of abuse and toxicity in your teen child’s relationship and whether that is related to the other young person’s substance addiction. As soon as you detect the signs, it is important to further the conversation to alarm your teenager. You also need to watch for signs of substance use with your child. When necessary, you can consider bringing in a professional interventionist. Apart from this guidance, modeling a sober and healthy lifestyle yourself is also important.
Parents can and should express concerns about a relationship of this type, but they would be unwise to take on a confrontational approach. For example, giving an ultimatum for ending this romantic relationship can be counterproductive. It would be wise to first understand the situation, involve some trustworthy friends of your child, and make an informed decision on how to communicate your concerns.
Parents should avoid mischaracterizing a child’s romantic relationship partner before knowing what the person has been through in life. One ought to realize that the root of substance addiction is not moral character, but emotional pain. Although the medical community has long recognized substance addiction as a brain disease, especially for young people, this does not mean it is not treatable.
There Is No Quick Fix
Whether it is the issue of your teen dating a person who struggles with addiction, that person’s chance of recovery to sobriety, or the success of this romantic relationship, there is no quick fix. What you can give your teenager is compassion and unconditional support, trusting that he or she will make the right decision.
Throughout all these turmoils, the most important thing is to maintain that precious line of communication between parent and child. Do not hesitate in showing care or concern, but always do so in a wise, informed, and nonjudgmental way. When things get too complicated, it is always better to reach out to health professionals who are familiar with addiction and the needs of teenagers.
Are you concerned about your teen child's dating relationships, such as whether he or she is dating someone with addictive habits? What would be the best way to communicate these concerns without a confrontational attitude? How can you inform them about the reality of substance addiction in teen dating but still respect their decision-making? Parents who are in such situations often find themselves at loss. Many old patterns of communication seem to be counter-productive. Maybe it is time to bring in a professional interventionist who knows how to interact with teenagers on the issue of addiction. You do not need to look far for such support. South Florida Intervention has professionally-trained interventionists who have helped many teens and young adults. We know how to counsel parents and inform teenagers. In addition to recovery coaching and parent coaching, we also offer detailed case management. Concerned parents should act early and intervene wisely. Call us today at (202) 390-2273.