Should Parents Tell Kids About Their Addictions or Mental Health Issues? Here’s What Experts Think


By Bonnie Azoulay

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Earlier this year, Walking Dead actor Kevin Zegers posted a video on Instagram of his 3-year-old daughters talking to their mother, Jaime Feld, about their father’s alcoholism. In the video, captioned, “Learning em’ young,” Feld can be heard explaining to her kids that Zeger is attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and the girls say their father is an alcoholic. Some viewers were quick to judge Feld and Zegers for being so open with their young children about Zegers’ addiction, while others lauded their transparency and urged more parents to speak to their children about their own addictions and mental health issues. Considering that up to one in four children worldwide have a parent with a mental illness, what’s the right way to handle this?

According to social workers Leigh Wolfsthal and Kevin Barry Heaney of The Safe Foundation, it’s important to keep children informed about parents’ health issues and use language they understand. “Keeping secrets from children about what’s going on with a family member is not helpful because their uncertainty can turn into anxiety. However, one must consider…click here to continue reading