Having difficult conversations while your teenage or adolescent son is in treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction is a challenge. You know that there are important subjects to be discussed, plans to be made, and more. You also know that despite his troubled past, he is diligently working in the present to create a better future for himself. In treatment, or after treatment, a parent can feel intimidated about starting a conversation with their teen. A parent should not feel intimidated and inhibited by their son’s recovery the way they did by their addiction. The fear is still real and traumatizing in itself- what if I push him to use again? Using, that is, picking up a drink or drug in an act of relapse, is entirely the choice and responsibility of your son. Meanwhile, it is critical you continue to show up as a confident, assertive, and unconditionally loving parent.
Don’t ambush your son
You will have an opportunity to work with your son through family therapy sessions. Let your son’s therapist know that there is a difficult subject needing approach. Together, you and your son’s therapist can create information and awareness, giving your son agency in the situation. Rather than be ambushed and have to cope on a whim, your son can better prepare himself to be present in the conversation, rather than on the defensive.
Check his H.A.L.T.
H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These are the times when anyone who has struggled with addiction, even those who have not, are their most irritable and irrational. If your son is displaying any level of irritability, restlessness, and discontent, it is not the appropriate time to talk. Of course, as a parent, you do not want to conform to every whim and need of your son. It is always better to wage battles and wars.
Give him time to converse with you
When a parent tells their teenage son there is a need to ‘talk’, their son is usually anticipating a full-on lecture assault. Parents are known for their pedantic rants and giving their children no room to chime in or participate in the conversation. The best way to have a talk with your child is to offer the conversation in short segments and invite them to participate. That way, they are able to process and communicate in chunks, rather than shut down or explode at the end of the conversation.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is a private residential treatment program in Mississippi, serving adolescent and teenage boys with foundation building, life-cleansing programming for recovery. If addiction has found its way into the life your loved child, call us today for information on our clinical and academic support: 662-598-4214