“How could you leave us”
Substance and drug abuse is a cultural and social issue that people should address, especially the effects on children. “How could you leave us” is a song where the artist talks about losing his mother to pills and substance abuse. The song talks about more considerable cultural conservation on drug and substance abuse which is tearing a family apart and leaving children orphans. In the music, the mother leaves unexpectedly even after they had waited for her for a long time. The child has the assumption that pills kill even though he has never tasted them before. Drugs took away the narrator’s mother that she could not attend her son’s graduation and bid him congratulations. NF is not the only child who has lost a parent to mental issues and drug abuse, but hundreds and thousands of other children also blame the two culprits for the loss of their parents. Substance abuse and drug abuse fail to do justice to children and impact them negatively in both direct and indirect ways. The song explains that the effects of parental substance abuse on children include neglect, social consequences, emotional and behavioral problems, and unstable family systems.
Substance abuse and mental health issues among parents are a larger cultural conversation because children always feel neglected by their caregivers. Drug and substance abuse is not easy for anyone to deal with, especially when parenting is involved. Parents who indulge in substance abuse can knowingly or unknowingly neglect their children. When a parent is under the influence of drugs, they might not be able to respond to their children’s physical and emotional needs correctly (Baker et al., 31). One of the significant reasons for neglect is the high financial cost of acquiring the drug, thus preventing parents from providing sufficient food, clothing, and housing. The song “How could you leave us” talks about the issue of neglectful parents in detail, thus covering the cultural conversation in society. The boy complains that the mother would say she is coming for them in the music, but a few minutes later, she calls and tells them that she cannot make it. Children that undergo such experiences feel neglected by their parents because those parents have no time for them.
Children whose parents suffer from mental and substance abuse suffer social consequences. Children whose parents suffer from substance abuse have to grow up very fast because their caretaker cannot meet their needs. Parents who suffer from substance abuse and mental disorders lack assertiveness and communication skills; therefore, children suffer from poor communication and dysregulation with their caregivers (Lander et al., 194). Children who undergo such experiences experience several feelings such as fear, hate, and shame. Children also fail to form an emotional attachment with other children or parents because of their parents put them through (Baker et al., 33). In the song, the speaker has no attachment to the lady taking care of her and states she does not believe her mama because the love is unreal. One can also feel and hear the disdain in the speaker’s voice when he says that he is in a room with a woman he barely knows. Such children experience social and emotional detachment from other people, even those ready to pull them out of their situation by providing a home for them.
Children who grow up with parents suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders have behavioral and emotional problems. Children who grow up in such a setting do not have self-control or autonomy as they bottle up issues because the parents are not physically or emotionally present for them (Baker et al., 33). Emotional and behavioral problems arise in children who live in homes with addiction and mental health problems as they have angry outbursts, depression, detachment, and anxiety (Thatcher). Such children find it difficult to express what they are feeling and thinking, thus using their behavior as an indication. For example, Ashley, a 15-year-old female, was asked to go for treatment by her school counselor because of self-injury because her mother was an alcoholic, and Ashley had to clean after her mess (Lander et al., 196). In the song, the speaker states that people say getting high is fun, but he is not laughing and does not understand anything at the time. The piece explains the emotional abuse that children go through because their parents are drug and substance addicts.
Another more considerable cultural aspect that the song addresses is the separation of children from their parents and the creation of unstable family systems. Many children who grow up in foster care have to deal with parents suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues. “In families with severe substance abuse issues, child protection agencies might remove the children from the addict’s parents and place them in foster care or the care of a stable relative” (Baker et al., 32). Separating children from their parents can lead to significant trauma even if the child is at risk when in the presence of the parents. Another impact of parental substance abuse is creating an unstable family system. As the basic unit of society, families are important institutions that promote the development of a unified and well-functioning society. Parents addicted to substance abuse experience difficulties maintaining a regular system in the house, leading to behavioral problems in the children. In the song, the speaker explains that the latest conservation they had with the mother is of her telling him that she is not an addict, but a week later, she went back to popping pills. Such inconsistencies lead to unstable families and separation.
Substance abuse and mental health disorders are controversial today, especially among parents, and he tries to explain his experiences to the world. The musical artifact above is the story of a child whose mother was a substance addict Parenting is not a simple task as it requires hours of constant attention and affection given to the child by the parent. However, children that grow up in families where the parents are drug addicts have to cope differently and grow a thick skin quite early in their lifetime. For example, parents suffering from drug abuse and mental disorders have to intentionally or unintentionally neglect their children. Children in such families have to deal with the absence of their parents either emotionally or physically. Parents also find it hard to provide basic needs for their children and instead purchase their drugs. Children also go through emotional, physical, and social torture because they have no one to guide them or show them deserved affection and attention thus children tend to hide their feelings.
Baker, M., Ford, Jacquelin, Canfield, Brittany, and Grabb, Traci. Identifying, treating, and preventing childhood trauma in rural communities. IGI Global, 2016.
Lander, Laura, Howsare, Janie, and Byrne, Marilyn. “The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice.” Social work in public health vol. 28,3-4 (2013): 194-205. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725219/
Thatcher, T. “How Parental Substance Abuse Impacts Kids | Valley Cares.” Valley Behavioral Health, 12 Feb. 2020, valley Care. https://valleycares.com/blog/families-in-crisis-how-parental-substance-abuse-and-mental-health-impacts-kids/