7 Questions A Man Should Ask Himself When His Child Is Using Drugs

When times get tough, some dads give their power away without even realizing it.

Last updated on Jan 13, 2024

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There's a misunderstanding in the world that children are a reflection of the parenting they received from their mothers, as if fathers have no influence on their children.

Fathers whose children are struggling with the disease of addiction may wish to create distance, blame others for the struggles their children face, or act like they have no power or influence over their children. As tempting as this may initially be, they are wrong.  


When we think that a child's addiction has nothing to do with the father, it keeps a father from accessing his power in the crisis and keeps him from doing everything he can to help his child.

Throwing your life savings at everything from treatment centers to tarot cards will not replace the most powerful tool you already have available: A present father!

Of course, professional help will be needed for treatment success. However, that success depends on the father's involvement in the process.

RELATED: How I Broke Up With Booze And Got My Life Back Again

Here are seven questions a dad should ask himself when his child is struggling with addiction:

1. What priorities am I putting before my relationship with my child?

This one requires brutal honesty and a clear understanding of your core values. Everyone has a set of values, and one is no better than the others. The important thing is you understand yours and that your actions align with your values.


Pausing and looking at the things you prioritize over your relationships may bring you a new awareness.



2. How well do I know my child?

If you played by all the rules of being a good man in our culture, you probably spent most of your time out of the home. You may have gone to all the parent/teacher meetings, ball games, and scout meetings and still not know your child as well as you think. Is most of what you know about your child secondhand information from mom, coaches, teachers, etc.?

When was the last time you sat with your child in a one-on-one setting and got to know them on the inside?


RELATED: 6 Main Reasons People Relapse After Addiction Recovery Treatments

3. How well does my child know me?

Does your child know the entire man you are or just the mask you wear after coming home from your job? Have you shared the things that keep you up at night, or do you keep those private? Are you modeling how to deal with life on life’s terms for your child? Are you showing your vulnerabilities?

Several young people have shared with me that seeing their father cry was the tipping point that got them committed to recovery.



4. How often do I sit and listen to them without advice or judgment?

As a man, many of us are programmed to fix things. Instead of allowing our children to tap into their wisdom and values, we offer advice without ever developing deep listening skills of our own.


Your advice may have worked well for you, but the same might not work for your child. They need to access their inner strength and wisdom while being honored by the man they hold in such high esteem.

RELATED: 5 Realistic Ways To Cope When Addiction Strikes Your Family

5. Have I created a safe environment for dialogue between my child and me?

It’s not just about stressing to them that they can tell you anything. This may require a deep dive inventory of your past actions and acknowledgment of your mistakes to them. I had a client who was gay.

One day, he heard his father making a derogatory gay joke to his buddies. From that day forward, he no longer felt safe to share who he was with his dad despite an otherwise close relationship. Eventually, he came out to his father after years of recovery from heroin addiction.


His father felt he respected his son, but when the issue of trust was raised, the son immediately recalled a joke the father did not recollect. They both agreed it’s possible the son would have gotten the help he needed and spared himself years of addiction if he had felt safe enough to tell his father about his sexuality.

Your child could be keeping a secret from you that could potentially kill them.

6. How have my actions influenced my child's decisions?

Whether you’re a non-smoker/non-drinker, a social drinker, or a full-blown addict like I was, how you respond to those things in your world can influence your children. Perhaps you’ve tolerated it with friends and family or even laughed about it like it was no big deal. Maybe you’ve never questioned the media’s idea of “social norms” simply because it’s always been there as long as you can remember.


Maybe you’ve conditioned an ultra-competitive spirit in your child that is crushing them simply because you thought you were doing the right thing as a man. Many fathers try to meet the unrealistic expectations placed on them by living vicariously through their children without even realizing it. Maybe you did nothing, and your indifference implied consent to your child.

Healthy communication might lead you to discover the amends you need to make.

7. When was the last time I told my child I admired them?

Children need adoration and admiration from their fathers. It may be challenging to express admiration to your child during anger and frustration, but it may be the treatment they need.


During my years of coaching men in recovery, it’s been very seldom that I’ve had a client who didn’t require deep work around his relationship with his father.

Being the father your child needs to recover doesn’t require expertise; it requires a willingness to travel the journey with them and recover together. You have much more power and influence than any counselor or therapist.

Learning to harness and use that power could save your child's life.

RELATED: 5 Ways To 'Get High' With Your Kids (That Might Save Them From Addiction)

Greg Boudle is a recovery life coach, published author, and professional speaker.