The other day this caught my attention. “Please don’t call my dad clean or dirty. I reserve those words for dishes.”
I thought about some of the words used by the recovering community and the recent efforts to adjust our languaging.
I used to work in a group home. We referred to the clients as children with mental illness or mental health issues instead of mentally ill children. Do you feel the difference?
In terms of recovery, I realize a lot of the stigma has lifted. I notice that many people are dropping the words substance abuse disorder and replacing it with a substance use disorder. Others use the term ‘recovering person,’ and or ‘a person in long-term recovery’. These have a gentler feel.
You may have noticed I have not used the phrase ‘dysfunctional family’ during this blog series. That is because I believe it has a negative connotation. It holds an element of shame. I think all families are functioning the best they can. The family system may be far from ideal, yet all families are working to maintain balance and are coping as best they can on some level. Calling families dysfunctional is not helpful or empowering. Would struggling families make more sense?
I also have discovered I find it a challenge to use the term children of alcoholics and/or addicts, yet it is currently all we have. I find it limiting. There are children in similar situations that may mimic the alcoholic dynamic. Be it extreme poverty, mental health issues, incarceration of a family member, a family history of alcoholism, many factors contribute to challenging childhoods. Perhaps we can say children impacted by parental alcoholism, or children in adverse circumstances. I have a feeling our language will adjust as we grow and become more aware of the impact of our words.
Let’s think about how we may use our words in a more loving way.