Recreational gambling that evolves into problem gambling affects every aspect of the person’s life, including employment, housing, and family. Unfortunately, the spouses and children of those with gambling problems rarely remain unscathed. They often suffer serious emotional damage due to living in a household where everyday life seems to revolve around someone’s gambling activities. Following are some of the significant factors affecting the children of problem gamblers.
Problem gambling invariably results in economic instability, and the lives of the children of problem gamblers often resemble a roller coaster ride. There may be very little food in the house one week, while steak and lobster may or may not be on the menu the next. They may find themselves having to change schools often due to frequent evictions or even having to go live with relatives or in foster care when parents lose the ability to meet their basic needs. School clothes and other essential items may be in short supply as well. When the problem gambler wins big, they may treat the children to extravagant gifts or vacations, but this only underscores how bad the lean times are.
A child’s parent may be loving and kind one day and completely the opposite the next. Because problem gamblers often use various means of deception to hide their gambling activity, their children grow up confused and not knowing whether to trust their own perceptions. They also find it difficult to trust and depend on their parents. Stable family routines tend to fall by the wayside when problem gambling enters the picture, and parents often make it worse by making promises they fail to keep.
The children of problem gamblers are also often put into dangerous situations. Not only are they frequently left alone in the home while the parent visits gambling venues, but they may be in danger of being harmed by criminal types to whom their parents owe gambling debts.
If you or someone you know struggles with problem gambling, know that support, treatment, and hope are just one call away. For more information about our 24/7 helpline or support for friends and family, reach out to 800-GAMBLER today.