September 23, 2016 Felicia Durling

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Why do we convict our children? So often we take the adverse behavioral signs of a deeper problem and hold it as evidence for a guilty conviction of our children’s actions. When we notice strange behavior from our children, we feel a reflection of our parenting. Where have we done wrong? Why would they experiment with harmful drugs or alcohol? Haven’t we taught them better? Out of our own shame, guilt, and fear, we blame our children for who they are. Forgetting the majesty of God’s kingdom on earth, we assign our children as lost and confused. suggests that asking your children “Have you been offered drugs or alcohol?” or “Have you been using drugs or alcohol” is a viable approach. However, we cannot be surprised by their answers. They will either answer “no” or the will answer “yes”. Parents must be prepared for both. Compassion and empathy are our human tools for treating our children like individuals, rather than our possessions or extensions of ourselves.

Addressing the potential of substance abuse in the adolescent home is a very delicate situation. By attacking and convicting our children we risk pushing them closer to substance abuse. On the other hand, if we remain too laissez faire, we might be enabling their behavior.

Before acting abruptly, mindfully pay attention to their behavioral signs.

  • Needing or stealing money
  • Locking bedroom door or demanding their privacy
  • Going out or sneaking out more often
  • Has an argument for everything and is hostile or angry
  • Reactive and aggressive emotionally
  • Change in relationship dynamics i.e. suddenly very mean to a sibling who was always loving
  • Quiet children become loud and put their behaviors on display
  • Normally animated children become quiet, sullen, passive
  • Spontaneous laughter at odd times
  • Lack of motivation or interest
  • Spikes in energy from hyperactive and sleepless to lethargy and catching up on sleep
  • Drop in hygienic practices without care to restart
  • Clenched teeth
  • Chewing more gum or consuming more mint than usual
  • Buying eye drops, nasal sprays
  • Disregard for rules and boundaries in the household
  • Breaking curfew regularly
  • Reckless behaviors in driving


The Center for Life Change in Temecula offers support groups and education for Parents. We know this struggle does not belong only to your child. Addiction is a family disease and we are here to support you, the family. Healing is comprehensive. For more information on our intensive outpatient treatment program and family support call (951) 775-4000.

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