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    Family Members Give Well-Meaning Advice But Are Not Always Helpful. How Do I Respond?

    One of the issues that parents so often face is unsolicited advice from family members when their child is struggling with drugs or alcohol. While much of this advice is well meaning, family members may resort to more black-and-white thinking, and may not take into account your child’s unique situation.

    Keeping this in mind, look for support from family members you trust, whom you feel will help you feel better. They may not agree with you in all aspects of the problem, but they may be willing to be a positive support, because they care about the position you and your child are in.

    Parents have found that by thinking ahead and coming up with a planned response can be helpful if they feel they may receive a comment from a family member that is not going to be helpful. Think through what makes the most sense to you and prepare a polite, brief response so that you feel ready in case you receive unsolicited advice.

    You may find that, with some family members, it is best to limit your discussion about your child’s substance use, so that you don’t feel additional pain. Take time to surround yourself with people who have walked in your shoes and who can be empathetic and compassionate. Because isolation can make you feel worse over time, consider which family members or friends will be the best support for you during this stressful period. Make a plan to connect with someone at least once a week. Social support increases resilience, so do continue to reach out and get the support that you need.

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    Want to connect with another parent who's been there?

    Cathy is one of our volunteer Parent Coaches. Like all of our coaches, she knows first-hand the challenges of helping a child with addiction. In addition to their own experiences, all parent coaches receive extensive and on-going training.

    Learn more about parent coaching

    Last Updated

    September 2023