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Tips for Healthy Parenting in Recovery

Helpful tips to keep in mind as you grow as a parent and sober individual

Addiction has profoundly negative effects on the parent-child relationship. According to Psychology Today, children are often unable to understand the complex causes of addiction, which can lead to feelings of guilt, worthlessness, anxiety, and lasting stress. Many kids carry this trauma with them into adulthood, which then affects their personal lifestyle choices.1

If you’re recovering from addiction, you may have a unique perspective on parenting due to your past experiences like working to heal family trauma or mending broken relationships. Raising children is extremely rewarding and fulfilling, but it’s also the hardest job there is. And dealing with substance abuse issues doesn’t make it any easier.

In truth, your experience with addiction will have an impact on how you raise your kids. However, the relationship you have with them can be repaired if it’s damaged. Many parents who recover from substance use disorders re-establish amazing, healthy relationships with their kids. We understand that no two families are alike, and that parenting is a complex and dynamic role. But there are many lessons and tools you can take from your addiction recovery to help you become a better parent and a stronger member of your family. Here are some general tips to keep in mind as you continue to grow as a parent and a sober individual.

Related article: How to Rebuild Relationships After Rehab

Forgiveness is key.

Learning how to forgive is challenging but it’s a key aspect of addiction recovery. First, forgiving yourself for past decisions and behaviors can help you release feelings of shame and remorse that are holding you back from being the best person and parent you can be. As a parent, you may be extra hard on yourself for the mistakes you made in the past. However, great parenting will follow as you grow into the healthiest version of yourself.

Forgiveness is a process, and often a painful one, at that. Fortunately, the 12-Step Program offers a way through it. By working each step, you can learn how to forgive yourself, forgive others, make amends for your past behavior, and start fresh. As you work through the program, you’ll gradually regain self-esteem.

Own up to your mistakes.

At times, we all need accountability and correction to live our best lives. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Instead, admitting when you’re wrong and apologizing shows your child that you care about their feelings. It also demonstrates that failure is a part of life for everyone.

If you find yourself in the wrong, apologizing to your child can teach them an important lesson on what it looks like to have a healthy relationship with someone and be a part of a family unit. In handling these situations effectively, you’ll also show your child how to appropriately deal with failure, learn from it, and grow. 

Work on rebuilding trust.

Unfortunately, addiction is a disease that shatters trust. Many parents who are actively addicted are unreliable and may even be absent from their childrens’ lives for a time. As a result, parenting in recovery may be difficult if your family members don’t trust that you’ll do what you say you will. In this case, consistency is key and your actions will speak louder than words. Rebuilding trust with your children will take time and work, but the best thing you can do is show up and keep your word.

Most often, families need outside help to rebuild trust and relationships after addiction. It’s hard work but a counselor or therapist can help you and your loved ones identify specific areas of your life that need attention. They can also help you develop strategies to establish healthy and strong relationships with one another. Understandably, this doesn’t happen overnight. But with patience, hard work, and a willingness to grow, you can build healthy relationships with your children after addiction.

Create new memories.

It can be helpful to view your sobriety as an opportunity to create new, happy memories with your kids. Doing so doesn’t necessarily require major vacation plans or expensive outings. On the contrary, it’s best achieved by doing simple things, like cooking dinner together, going for walks around the neighborhood, or attending your kid’s soccer games on the weekends.

Making the time to create new, happy memories like this will help you rebuild trust with your children and  strengthen your bond with one another. As you and your children adjust to a life where you’re sober, hopefully, they’ll begin to feel more safe and secure in your love and your presence in their life.

Communicate openly and honestly.

Whether you’re parenting in recovery or not, it’s always a good idea to keep secrets out of your household. But with addiction, this can be hard to do. Even if you struggled with honesty while you were actively addicted, one of the best things you can do for your relationships now is to be honest and communicate openly. This also applies to your relationship with your kids!

Children have an innate ability to detect when an adult is lying. So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be forthright about your addiction and what you are doing to overcome it and sustain sobriety. Obviously, the way in which you communicate these things will vary depending on the age of your child(ren), but the best practice is to be honest about your addiction, explain the disease, and why it’s important that you focus on your treatment and recovery to get better.

By keeping the dialogue with your kids open, you set the precedence that your home is a place of truth and honesty. It also encourages kids to be open and honest with their feedback, questions, and concerns. Ideally, your willingness to be honest about your struggles with drug or alcohol abuse will also inform your childrens’ personal choices as they get older and help them make good decisions.

Be a good role model.

If you feel especially guilty about your behavior while you were addicted, it’s all too easy to fall into the pattern of spoiling your child or being overly lenient to make up for it. However, all children need age-appropriate discipline and boundaries to succeed in life. It might be tempting to get on your child’s “good side” but trying to  be a friend instead of a parent is bound to backfire in the long run. Comparatively, consistency, firm boundaries, and your presence in your childrens’ lives are much more important and valuable for the relationship. 

Don’t forget self-care!

As parents, it’s easy to forget that we have needs too. It’s impossible to be the best parent we can be if we are running on empty. As someone who is parenting in recovery, it’s important to make time for those regular 12-Step meetings, get to your therapy sessions, and complete your rehab or sober living program, even if that means you have to be away from your family for a short time.

By taking care of your needs, you’ll not only be a better person for yourself, but you’ll also model what it looks like to make healthy choices and care for your mind, body, and spirit.

Related article: 11 Practical Steps to Self-Improvement In Recovery

Parenting in recovery is hard. Eudaimonia Recovery Homes offers ongoing support for individuals and families that are healing.

If you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety and rebuild relationships with your family, you may need some outside help. Eudaimonia Recovery Homes offer safe and supportive sober living Austin TX, along with an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and other recovery support services to help you thrive in recovery, like:

  • Employment assistance
  • Individualized recovery program
  • Regular drug screening
  • Volunteer placement
  • Educational planning
  • Certified peer recovery coaches

Whether you just got out of rehab or you’ve been sober for months, the caring team at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes is here to support you and help you re-establish your relationships and your life after addiction. Please call (512) 580-3131 or contact us online today to speak with an admissions representative.

Resources:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201912/how-addiction-affects-the-parent-child-relationship 

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