Parenting in recovery can be characterized as many things: fulfilling, rewarding, satisfying. It can also be equally challenging, frustrating, and even exhausting. When a parent suffers from substance use issues, it adds a whole new layer of complications and challenges that lead to many concerns, such as:
- What about the welfare of my children while I’m attending treatment?
- How can I emotionally handle being away from my children while attending treatment?
- How have my behaviours impacted my children?
- Will my children resent me?
- Have I passed down the devastating disease of addiction to my children?
- How can I regain their trust and support?
If you find yourself asking these questions, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, the recovery community has evolved and the awareness of these situations continues to grow. Today, there are many resources and flexible treatment options available for parents who struggle with addiction.
It’s clear that addictions affect the entire family system. Perhaps the most at risk to experience negative effects of addictions are children. While undoubtedly addiction can impact your kids in negative ways, you can minimize these effects and repair broken relationships. It’s possible to help the family system return to a healthy state and to also create deeper, more meaningful relationships than ever before.
Effective Parenting in Recovery
For parents in addiction recovery, intense feelings of shame, guilt and regret are common. These emotions often make you more likely to overcompensate, leading you to spoil your kids, or try to be a ‘super parent’. While these are natural impulses, it’s important to create a realistic and structured environment to encourage responsible behaviours and boundaries for your kids. Although genetics can be a factor that causes predisposition to addiction, environment plays a much more significant role. In order to create a healthy environment, encourage communication and enforce positive parenting techniques.
Another natural instinct for all parents is to put their kids first above all else. For all parents, but particularly those who are in recovery, finding the time to practice self-care is critical. Ensure to maintain the commitment to yourself and your own path of recovery by continuing to engage in post-treatment activities like meetings or self-care practices, even if it means time away from your family. And above all else, remember there’s no such thing as being ‘the perfect parent’. Like any path in life, it’s a learning experience that has its ups and downs.
Here are some other ways to become the best parent you can be while in recovery:
- Practice self-care
- Allow children to have their own process
- Make a commitment to talk openly and honestly
- Share feelings in a way kids can understand
- Find balance
- Ask for help
- Let go of the need to control
- Strive for progress not perfection
- Instill self-compassion
- Set realistic expectations
- Increase self-awareness
- Have fun as a family
- Reinforce the positive
- Take ownership of your alcoholism or addiction
At Cedars, we understand just how much one person’s addiction can affect the lives of those around them. That’s why we’ve created the family-oriented Discovery Program. This program helps treat the entire family system through education, awareness and communication, focusing on the individual needs of each family member, including children.
Call us today to learn more about the Discovery Program and other treatment options for parents with substance abuse issues.