Parenting in Recovery

If you're reading this, it's likely you've encountered or are currently facing challenges related to substance use disorder.

Welcome, and know that you're not alone. In my early recovery, I often found myself caught in an intense shame cycle, spiraling deeper and deeper. I convinced myself I had negatively impacted my kids (which I know I did), believing they would never be the happy and healthy again. I eventually realized that this time was not about me but about them and rebuilding what was lost.

As my recovery progressed and I spent more time with the kids outside of the sober house I realized that this is the moment for me to be the mother they need and support them as they desire. It's time to put on my big girl pants, step up, and show up. Although parenting in recovery isn't always easy, it is possible.

Many believe that addiction is a sickness that affects the entire family. When a parent dealing with substance use disorder decides to seek help, it's a relief and often brings joy, especially to the kids. Children often face disorders and confusion due to their parents' problems, struggling to behave well in school, feeling upset, or even experiencing neglect or mistreatment.

As a parent embarks on the recovery journey, the focus should be on resolving these issues. Here are seven suggestions to help parents in recovery build a strong connection with their children:
  1. Apologize: Expressing remorse is crucial. Parents should apologize to their kids for how their problems affected them. They don't need to share every detail, but acknowledging the struggle with a sickness that compromised good decision-making is a good start. Kids are usually willing to forgive, and early apologies help to heal.
  2. Keep promises: Words alone are insufficient in recovery. Parents must follow through on their commitments to show their kids they can be trusted. Building trust takes time, and the child needs to feel confident that the parent will keep their promises.
  3. Spend time together: Allocate quality time with your kids to demonstrate positive changes and a genuine interest in their lives – their activities, school experiences, friends, and hobbies.
  4. Be patient: If the parent's problem persists for a long time, it takes a while for the child to overcome feelings of upset, anger, and abandonment. Persistence is key. Even if the child is initially resistant and angry, sticking to the plan and showing a serious commitment to improvement helps rebuild trust.
  5. Take care of yourself: To support your kids, prioritize your own well-being. Establish a new routine that includes self-care practices like a consistent schedule, regular exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep. This enhances your health and sets a positive example for your kids.
  6. Use "I" statements: Communicate thoughts and feelings using "I" statements.
  7. Remember to pause when emotions get high and walk away before saying something damaging.

In the midst of busy lives, it's essential not to forget basic things like listening,offering praise, rewarding good behavior, encouraging children to do their best (not aiming for perfection), daily communication, displaying love and affection consistently, fostering curiosity and excitement, choosing battles wisely, trusting your feelings, and expressing love daily.

Children are resilient and forgiving. While parents in recovery may encounter challenges in repairing relationships with their children, the bond between parent and child can strengthen with time and adequate support.

Don't give up!