Substance Abuse — The Thief that Robs Parent from Child

What do we really want for our children? We want them to grow into kind, functioning adults who are joyful, find their purpose and ultimately contribute to society. Easy stuff right? Under the best of circumstances, that’s a pretty tall order.

sadchildParents will do whatever it takes to help their children reach these goals. It can be challenging. For starters, kids need safety and security and food and shelter. But also important are clothing, medical care, heat in cold climates, lessons in hygiene, boundary setting, emotional support, socializing. The list goes on and on. But love and consistency are at the center of developing a young child, born full of potential, into a healthy adult.

But what if, as a parent, you don’t have the all the tools you need? What if you realize the big job ahead of you? What if you get scared? Or you don’t have the best coping skills? What if drugs or alcohol gave you relief? Or, you thought it did.

Enter substance abuse into a family, and even a child’s most basic needs are at risk.

Though each child’s experience will vary, most children of parents who suffer from substance abuse face a myriad of issues that affect the child’s entire life:

A parent might not come home at night, leaving the children to fend for themselves;

Mom cannot keep promises and may not even remember a promise was made;

Dad may have trouble keeping a job and struggle with paying bills, providing food or medical care;

Mom cannot help with homework, prepare meals or provide lessons in personal hygiene.

Consider this child, a child of a parent who suffers from substance abuse and you can imagine him going to school hungry, perhaps unwashed, in unclean and poor fitting clothes with incomplete homework. He or she, most likely on top of all that they endure at home, will experience teasing and bullying at school. He or she, most likely, has no coping skills to deal with the day they’ve been given.

Add family fights, neglect and emotional or physical abuse, and that’s a recipe that can lead to a child or children being removed from their home and placed into foster care.

Foster care can isolate a child, preventing them from forming healthy relationships with their peers. We can hope their teacher offers kindness instead of a reprimand for incomplete homework. Hopefully, the cafeteria server sees a hungry child and gives an extra helping and offers a smile. But in spite of the kindness offered, the feeling of hopelessness is a natural response to being removed from their home, and even though it is through no fault of their own, the child feels responsible for tearing the family apart.

With all that suffering placed on their small shoulders, the child begins to lose focus at school, they act out, they cannot see a future for themselves. All too often, they feel lost, confused and voiceless.

Fortunately, for a child living in foster care, their hope, their voice comes in the form of a CASA volunteer. A CASA volunteer may be the only compassionate, consistent adult in that child’s precarious life. One single bond from a caring adult can give hope to a child who deserves joy and the opportunity to reach their potential. One single bond can save a child’s life.

CASA volunteers are trained in the complicated issues of families dealing with substance abuse. A CASA volunteer can help guide families to the resources and the support they need to help break the cycle of substance abuse, get their family back together and ensure another child, another family, is given the opportunity to thrive.

Learn more at AtlanticCapeCASA.org

 

Advertisements

The Importance of Fathers and Positive Male Role Models for Children

black-father-with-childrenI recently read a post originally published on Earl Hipp’s Man-Making blog in 2012. While the post may be a few years old, the message is timeless and one that we don’t talk about as much as we should. Legions of boys, and girls, are growing up without a father, or father-fugure. The absence of a father has a profound negative effect on children, especially boys. These are some of the statictis regarding children who live without a father (from The National Center on Fathering)

  • Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”
  • A study of 1,977 children age 3 and older living with a residential father or father figure found that children living with married biological parents had significantly fewer externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems than children living with at least one non-biological parent.
  • Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.
  • 71% of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills.

Even in our own organization, we see the positive impacts that a male volunteer has on boys or young males, many of whom are fatherless or living without a positive male role-model. One of our male volunteers was the first to ever play catch with a 10-year-old boy, another played basketball with a boy for 6 weeks before the boy would utter a single word to him, another was able to develop such a strong bond with a young man that he learned that the boy had a grandfather that no one else knew about – the grandfather eventually gained full custody of his grandson.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, let us remember that more than 20 million children live without a father and millions more have a father who is emotionally absent. As we know from the statistics above, children that grow up in fatherless homes have a multitude of challenges that extend into their adult life.

Thankfully, many organizations are tackling the fatherless issue by engaging and inspiring fathers, and father figures, to be active in their children’s lives and providing the resources to help reverse the fatherless trend in America.

See more at

The Good Men Project: http://goodmenproject.com/

The National Center for Fathering http://www.fathers.com/

Fatherhood Factor http://fatherhoodfactor.com/