This blog article first appeared on Counsellor Sam and has been republished with full permission.
Fred* rang the Gambling Helpline a very worried father. He had just found out that his son Jordan* aged 22, was $30,000 in debt, owed most of this money to credit cards and had used the money for gambling.
Fred admitted that both he and his wife Marie* had known that Jordan gambled, but certainly not to the extent that he would get into debt to the tune of $30,000. Jordan had managed to hide his increasing debt. Fred said he and Marie thought Jordan’s occasional requests to borrow money were related to him having too much fun with his friends and not saving enough. Both were in shock about finding out their son owed so much money and worried about how he would repay it. He was only on an apprentice salary.
Fred told the Helpline Counsellor that they were happy to try and help their son but they had limits. They wanted to help him but not in such a way that he would not learn the lessons of being $30,000 in debt through gambling. The other side of their dilemma was their worry about his credit rating. What would happen to his prospects if he did not pay the debt? Should they or should they not pay off his debt was the question they wanted to discuss when they called the Helpline.
As every situation and person is different, the following needed to be considered:
- How the damage the gambling had caused could be minimised now and in the future, for the person gambling and for their loved onesHow the cycle of problematic gambling could be stopped
- How the person with the problem could be encouraged to develop a more realistic attitude to money and to gambling.
- Jordan’s parents were advised to encourage Jordan to consult a financial counsellor as part of him taking responsibility for his actions. They were advised that they could consider going along as support if Jordan agreed. They were also advised of the counselling available for Jordan and for them, either separately or together.
Get to know the signs that might indicate a problem is developing. Download the talking to teens about gambling guide (3.4MB PDF).
If you have a family member who you are concerned about, or if you would like some guidance about how to move a loved one towards change while still supporting them, give the Gambling Helpline a call on 1800 858 858. You can speak to a trained counsellor about the best option for you and your loved one.