Teens are not big talkers usually to adults. 

In speaking to local teens of addicts and alcoholics, I found in general, teens are not big talkers usually to adults.

We often see teens talking nonstop to friends and peers, but when it comes to talking to parents or adults, they don’t appear as excited or forthcoming about details about themselves or their day.

So when asked about “real stuff” that for many can be traumatic, and often buried within them, trying to get the words out can, at times, be slow in the process. For others, they may be further along in the healing process. Everyone is different. 

Either way, it’s up to us to allow them to guide us in what they can offer and speak on their experience as a child of an addict or alcoholic.

Here’s what I learned in the process of speaking to teens:

  1. Kids and teens may bury the memories of the events and trauma they experienced to protect themselves. It can be tough to try and pull it out of them. 
  2. They need to be given the space to talk about it when they are ready.
  3. These kids and teens need to be provided with a safe place to have the conversation.
  4. They need to be able to feel they can trust who they speak with on such a trying experience.
  5. When these individuals are ready to speak, they need support and encouragement- this is a big step for them.
  6. Understand that the first conversation may just be a starting point- a breaking of the ceiling perhaps.
  7. Once the ceiling is broken, remind them of the courage it took to talk about the trauma or painful memories.
  8. Emphasize to these individuals that their parents’ addiction or drinking was not his or her fault.
  9. These kids and teens are still managing their emotions. There is no one size fits all. Each teen is different in his or her experience, memories, and feelings.
  10. Bottom line: Kids just want to know that they are loved.

This last piece, which may seem obvious to us as parents, unknowingly needs to be reinforced. 

Though we continue to tell our kids how much we love them, just saying it one more time, like when they leave for school in the morning, or when you’re putting them to bed at night, is important.

Even if your kids are older, they are still our kids, and they need to be told, even just one more time, how much we love them.