Alcohol and other drug use affects how parents work with Child Safety and other supports. This leads to people describing or labelling parents by their behaviour, using words like:
- lacking insight
Rather than defining parents in this way, try to look beyond their behaviour and understand why they are responding in this way. Some of the obvious ways AOD may affect a parent’s engagement are:
- their intoxication or withdrawal at different times
- whether AOD is experienced alongside domestic violence, mental health concerns or other worries
- stigma, shame, judgement or oppression.
These factors can have a big impact on the parent’s ability to:
- talk, behave, feel and think
- understand what is happening
- acknowledge the problem and seek treatment
- remain in treatment and sustain changes.
Talking with a parent about their AOD use and the underlying reasons for it becoming a problem is likely to trigger many emotions for them. Your compassion and curiosity are important.
What gets in the way
|What to say|
Being overwhelmed by the idea of reducing or stopping AOD use.
How does the idea of cutting back or stopping your use make you feel or think?
What worries you the most?
What might be the good things about stopping?
Stigma and shame.
What are your thoughts and feelings about me being here today?
How does it add to pressure for you?
Some parents have told me it makes them feel like a bad parent or ashamed—can you relate to this?
Own childhood experiences.
Lots of parents I work with have grown up with AOD use in their lives and this has been ‘normal’ for them.
Some parents find it hard to understand why I’m here talking about their kids, when they grew up in the same way. Can you relate to that?
Different perspectives about child safety and harm.
I think the thing we can agree on is that you love [child] and you would never want to intentionally hurt them. Having me here today talking with you about whether [child] is safe and how your AOD use might be affecting them must be confronting and frightening.
We do not need to agree on everything and it is likely that we won’t always. But what we do need to agree on is that the safety of [child] will be the number one thing we have to be real about.
I’m always up-front with you if there is a problem and if [child] is not safe. I need you to be up-front about what you think and what you are prepared to do. Can we agree on that?
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Alcohol and other drug use, homelessness and family and domestic violence
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