Impact on Children

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When a parent or guardian has a gambling problem, the child(ren) in their care can feel forgotten, depressed and angry. They may even feel responsible for the problem, and alter their behaviors as a result.

For some children, the absence of their caregivers can thrust them into a role of responsibility, forcing them to take care of siblings or try to support their parent(s). This responsibility causes children stress.1

Problem gambling by parents and other significant adults can impact adversely on children. Getting help for a problem and regaining control of your life is an essential part of positive parenting.2

Common Responses
Some common responses children may develop as a consequence of problem gambling include:

  • Loss of trust as a result of lies, secrets and broken promises2
  • Feeling depressed or powerless to deal with the problem
  • Blaming themselves for the behavior2
  • Anxiety or fear over losing a parent to separation or divorce2
  • Loss of self-esteem2
  • Social withdrawal and isolation because they feel different from others3
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Deterioration of social relationships
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased frequency of stomachaches and/or headaches3
  • Feeling ashamed, angry, hurt or lonely2

Caught in the Middle?
Children may also feel caught in-between their parents, and/or forced to take sides. As a result, they may try to draw attention to themselves by:

  • Stealing or breaking the law
  • Getting into trouble at school
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • Gambling1

It is essential to help children understand that the family’s problems are not their fault. Family or individual counseling can help children return to a safe and balanced home life and a normal childhood.1

Physical and Emotional Abuse
Domestic violence happens most often when families are in crisis and Gambling problems can lead to the physical or emotional abuse of a partner, parent or child. If this is happening in your family, get help right away!1

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