On Father\u2019s Day, kids take the time to show their appreciation for all of the things their fathers do for them every day of the year. But for the child of an alcoholic or drug abuser, the day may be fraught with confusion and mixed emotions. Addiction is a serious, complex issue, and this can leave many parents feeling as though it\u2019s impossible to adequately explain the problem to children. However, if you approach the topic with tact, honesty and openness, you can help your child understand why their dad is in rehab for Father\u2019s Day or why he isn\u2019t manning the barbecue with a beer in hand like last year. \r\nSeven Cs of Explaining Addiction to Children\r\nThe simplest model for how to explain addiction to your child is known as the Seven Cs:\r\n\r\n \tI didn\u2019t cause it.\r\n \tI can\u2019t cure it.\r\n \tI can\u2019t control it.\r\n \tI can take better care of myself,\r\n \tBy communicating my feelings,\r\n \tMaking healthy choices,\r\n \tAnd celebrating myself.\r\n\r\nThe reason these messages are important is because self-blame in particular is common in the children of addicts. It could be that Dad has tried to lay the blame for the problem (whether overtly or by the more subtle \u201cyou make me stressed, stress makes me drink\u201d remarks) on the child. Kids take this kind of thing to heart, so it\u2019s vital to stress that it is not their fault. Moreover, children of addicted parents often take on more responsibility than most kids, and as a result may feel as though they are responsible for rectifying the issue. This is less likely to be explicitly or implicitly expected of the child, but it\u2019s a consequence of the child feeling like he or she is to blame for the problem. The last four steps are designed to emphasize that addiction is not normal behavior, and the child doesn\u2019t need to feel as though he or she is condemned to repeat the mistakes of his or her parent. These steps are concerned with establishing good personal habits, both physical and emotional, for the affected child. Encourage openness and honesty from the child with regard to emotions, and ensure that he or she understands the risks associated with addictions. End with the message of hope: if you deal with your emotions in a healthy fashion and you are happy with who you are, you won\u2019t need to rely on substances when you grow up, and you won\u2019t have the same problems.\r\nPracticing Age-Appropriate Honesty\r\nIt\u2019s tempting to sugarcoat the message for a child, and while this is needed to a certain degree, it\u2019s important to be honest about the problem and to be informed so you can field any questions he or she may have. Make sure the message is age-appropriate, simplifying the problem or breaking it down into more understandable terms, but don\u2019t lie or mislead the child. The most important message is that addiction is a disease, brought on by a complex interplay of genetic, environmental and psychological factors, and therefore the child isn\u2019t responsible for the problem, just like he or she wouldn\u2019t be responsible if the illness were diabetes instead of addiction. In the same vein, while it\u2019s good for the child to help around the house or put his all into schoolwork,he can\u2019t fix his dad\u2019s problem by doing so. Dad needs treatment, and that\u2019s why this Father\u2019s Day will be a little different. Make it clear that the problem is common: more than 28 million Americans are the children of alcoholics. Let your child know that many kids are going through the same problems; he or she isn\u2019t alone.\r\nUpdating the Conversation Regularly\r\nWhen your child understands the nature of addiction, it\u2019s important not to ignore the situation after the initial explanation. You need to be there for your child emotionally, so she knows that she can communicate her feelings to you without fear, judgment or reproach, and you need to keep her up to date on what\u2019s happening in Daddy\u2019s life. If your child has gotten a little older since the first talk, update the conversation you had with new information or insight that he will be able to understand better now, and if he\u2019s struggling with anything, be there to offer help. Remember that you don\u2019t have to shoulder the burden on your own; there are groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen that are dedicated to helping the families of addicts. Most importantly, be sure your child knows that even though this Father\u2019s Day might be a little different, Daddy loves his kids as much as ever, and that with hard work and dedication, you\u2019ll get through this together.