5 Healthy Parenting Tips for Recovery

5 Healthy Parenting Tips for Recovery

Parents in recovery must face the challenge of recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) while raising their children to have a happy, healthy, and substance-free future. If this were not enough, they also need to help heal the family system, which has been impacted by addiction.

Recovery is also an opportunity for parents to launch a new beginning for the entire family. When they put in the work of recovery and restoration, they can become better parents. This significant improvement in family life is a reality for many people in recovery. Below are a few evidence-based, time-tested advice for recovering parents.

Tip #1. Include Your Children in Your Recovery Journey

Parents do not need to hide their struggle with addiction from family members, including children. Modeling honesty, humility, and transparency in the home show they have changed. When children ask about their parent’s recovery, the parent can explain it to them age-appropriately.

In opening up about a past addiction, parents are actively de-stigmatizing the condition, warning their children of the dangers of substance use, and being vulnerable about their faults and how they overcame them. Use children’s curiosity and explain how substance addiction is a brain disease that can’t be cured but can be treated. Explain that a parent has been sick but is determined to get better by following a healthy lifestyle. Parents modeling a healthy lifestyle to their children can have a lasting impact on their futures.

Tip #2. Practice Candor and Forgiveness in the Home

If addiction has brought trauma to a spouse or children, it is time to ask for their forgiveness. However, one must first forgive themselves. Individuals need not allow the weight of guilt and shame to overburden them to the extent that they are not free to change. Once a parent is ready to ask for forgiveness from family members, they can show them with words and actions that they have determined to change.

Forgiveness and starting afresh mean that family members can heal old patterns of blame, negligence of parental duties, or over-indulgence. The key is to set healthy boundaries, which is an important life skill. Some recovering parents try to make up for the lost time by pampering their children, but that is not healthy in the long run. Children need healthy boundaries to become responsible adults who don’t have to suffer the same consequences as their parents.

Tip #3. Create Fun Memories as a Family

One of the great joys of parenting is building fun and lasting memories for children. These do not need to be expensive events or luxurious outings. Simply playing games, going to a movie theatre, cooking meals together, and going on a weekend vacation are great ways to create fun family memories that nurture children for a lifetime.

Such activities facilitate healing and bonding for the entire family. Because children who witness their parents struggling with addiction also tend to experience more negative emotions, these fun times can allow them to engage with positive emotions. Being fully present with their children is the best gift a parent can give.

Tip #4. Express Feelings to Family Members in a Healthy Way

Recovering parents should encourage their children to express their feelings. Many evidence-based treatments teach those in recovery techniques they can also apply to parenting. For example, when a parent follows a therapist’s advice in journaling and mindfulness meditation, they can introduce these methods to their children and explain the health benefits. Parents can also encourage their children to express feelings through music or artistic creation, as they may have learned in recovery groups.

Many people do not know how to practice healthy boundaries regarding emotional expression with family members. However, with the help of a strong recovery community, parents can be motivated to learn and put these techniques into practice. Peers and sponsors can share tips about their journey. Family therapy can also be a great help in healthy boundaries and expression.

Tip #5. Surround Yourself With a Strong Support System

Sometimes parenting can get rough, and parents must step away and care for themselves first. Even before they experience emotional “turbulence” during this journey, parents can ask for help raising and caring for their children from their spouse, trusted family members, and friends. Prioritizing self-care is important. Without it, parents can’t be their best to help their children.

Focusing on self-care does not mean a parent is selfish while neglecting their children. On the contrary, self-care helps recovering individuals replenish their strength. Whether it is a one-day personal retreat, outpatient therapy, or simply an afternoon for meditation, parents can explain to their children that the purpose is to get better so they can take care of them. This is why it’s crucial to have a support system that can take over childcare for a day or part of one.

Recovering parents need to create space in their schedule to focus on their recovery progress. They should also be aware of the warning signs of an impending relapse and intervene before it comes to fruition. Delaying relapse prevention can only sabotage progress, making parental absence a potential re-occurrence in your children’s lives.

When a parent is in recovery, they often gain a renewed perspective on parenting their children so that relationships can be strengthened and their children can have a substance-free future. However, parents cannot do this alone. They often need the support of peers and health professionals. They need a healthy environment and a stable support system to raise healthy children. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our recovery experts know how to help you become better parents. We have supported many parents in recovery to improve parenting and recovery skills. Please call (866) 774-1532 to discover how you can be part of our strong recovery community. It is never too late to become a better parent.