Providing Emotional Immunity to Drugs in Your Children

Addiction is a relationship with a mood-altering substance. Addictive behaviors replace a person’s capacity for intimate relationships. Drug-proofing you children must require more than demanding that the public schools and police “do something” and conduct “Drug Education”. Why do some children seem to have an immunity to the temptations of drugs, while others succumb to its lure with little resistance? Drugs fill a void. They relieve emotional pain (temporarily). The underlying unmet needs of your children must be identified and understood in order to eliminate to vulnerability to drug use. Before there was “peer pressure” or the illusion of “safe drugs” or “safe sex”, your children were designed and created with intrinsic needs. In addition to the “God-shaped hole” in each of us reflecting our intimacy need vertically for communion with God, there are ten “soulish” or emotional needs that constitute horizontal needs for intimacy with other humans. Meeting these needs is the best way to “drug proof” your children. It is also the only way.


Attention
To take thought of another and convey appropriate care, interest, concern and support;
to enter another’s world

1) Spend time with your children as a family.
2) Spend individual time with your child.
3) Know where your children are.
4) Go where your children are.
5) Listen to your children.
6) Know their interests, opinions, likes, dislikes, friends, enemies, etc.
7) Support them by caring to interact with, guide, and celebrate.
8) Communicate concern for them and what they care about.


Acceptance
Deliberate and ready reception with a favorable response;
to receive willingly;
to regard as good and proper.

1) Look beyond your children’s faults and minister to their needs.
2) Quickly forgive your child when personally offended.
3) Help your children to properly deal with their failures and disappointments.
4) Love people with God’s unmerited unconditional and unremitting love.
5) Be particularly sensitive about accepting aspects of your child that are different from you.
6) Promptly recognize your failures in acceptance and promptly and sincerely attempt to minister to their disappointment and hurt by making a new start and rededicating yourself to accepting them.


Appreciation
To recognize with gratitude;
to recognize with words and feelings of personal gratefulness for another person.

1) Praise your children verbally and publicly.
2) Find ways to describe in detail your gratitude for your children.
3) Catch your children in the act of doing something good, and let them know.
4) Express delight in their gifts and talents and particularly in their thoughtfulness.


SUPPORT/BEAR BURDEN
To come alongside and gently carry a problem or struggle;
to assist; to provide for.

1) Anticipate and notice periods of high stress.
2) Offer to use personal resources to help support your child: extra time, money and talent.
3) Go out of your way to change your routine in order to come alongside your child at a time of need.
4) Be willing to become personally involved and even to do menial tasks to help your child.


ENCOURAGEMENT
To urge forward and positively persuade toward a goal;
to inspire with courage, spirit or hope;
to simulate.

1) Encourage your child to set goals and then help them to achieve their goals.
2) Stimulate with resources and your time and attention and share inspiring stories of others who achieved their goals.
3) Share stories of courage demonstrated by other family members, others in American history and world history.
4) Recount stories of God’s work in your life and the lives of others where a spirit of courage and hope were developed and maintained, even in the face of adversity.
5) Recognize when your child is discouraged and minister encouragement to them. Break routine to do so.
6) Share your hope and your dreams for your child with your child.


AFFECTION
To communicate care and closeness through physical touch and affirming words.

1) Using discretion, become more physical in your relationship with your child: hold, kiss, hold hands, wrestle, hug.
2) Verbalize your love; speak words of love, kindness and affection.
3) Make use of opportunities to show affection towards others in your child’s presence: family friends, neighbors, pets.
4) Make the communication of caring and closeness routine and normal rather than weird and unusual.


RESPECT
To value and regard highly;
to covey great worth;
to esteem.

1) Take time to fully discuss decisions that impact your child before making the decision or commitment.
2) Solicit and show respect when disagreeing with others while remaining uncompromising in matters of moral choice.
3) Be careful to differentiate your respect for your child from opinions or actions with which you disagree.
4) Help to model respect when disagreeing with others while remaining uncompromising in matters of moral choice.
5) Respect your child’s property, privacy and personal preferences. Convey concern if your child becomes overly secretive or defensive and ask to review any area of your child’s life that may present danger to their and the family’s physical, emotional or spiritual safety and well being.
6) When it becomes necessary to challenge, rebuke or correct your child, speak the truth in love and set a context that preserves the dignity of your child an your high esteem of him as a person of great value in your eyes of God.
7) Respect your child’s time: Let your “yes” be yes and “no” be no. Do not break appointments for “more pressing matters.”


SECURITY
Freedom from exposure from danger;
to put beyond hazard of losing, want or deprivation;
confidence of harmony in relationships.

1) Provide relational security; Children should feel secure in knowing that their parents will always and divorce will never destroy the family unit.
2) Provide financial security, even at the expense of saying “no” to the “gimmies.”
3) Let your child know that you are aware of his or her physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
4) Model decisions that convey thoughtfulness and prudence in matters of health, safety (e.g., driving, fire and crime prevention, security, sporting activities, etc.) nutrition, exercise and use of quiet time so as to enhance physical well being and minimize risk to life and limb.


COMFORT
To give strength and hope to;
to ease the grief or pain;
to console, cheer.

1) Learn to recognize when your children have an increased need for comfort and be willing to minister to them.
2) When your child needs comfort, refrain from correcting them: (“The reason this happened is…”), teaching them: (“Next time…”) giving them a pep-talk: (“Come on, just cheer up”), etc.
3) Empathize with a hurting child, learn the language of comfort.
4) Join them in the moment of their suffering, but give your strength and hope to them.
5) Acknowledge their need for comfort and your belief that there will be a process of healing, and restoration.


Approval
To accept as satisfactory;
to give formal or official sanction to;
to have or express a favorable opinion.

1) Notice when your child demonstrates admirable character traits, resists evil and strands for right, stands alone, perseveres through difficult times or takes initiative to perform kind deeds and commend them verbally and publicly.
2) Don’t just correct when wrong, but communicate approval when they do well.
3) Accentuate the positive: Convey a “glass half full” approach rather than allowing yourself to be overly focused on as yet unmet long term goals when a celebration of the victory at hand is in order.
4) Be constant “seek and approve” mode: find aspects or approval can be expressed verbally or through physical action gifts, additional time spent, etc.
5) Let your “default setting” be one of approval and favor.


*As adapted from D. Ferguson, D. McMinn: Top Ten Intimacy Needs. Intimacy Press, Austin, TX, 1994 and collaboration with Arnold Mech, MD, Plano, TX. Humpty Dumpty: Reconciling a Marriage After an Affair

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