If you are a parent who has gone through addiction treatment, chances are you have missed precious time with your children while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As you achieve sobriety and decide to live a healthier lifestyle from now on, it is important to rekindle and repair family relationships.
Among these relationships, the most challenging one is probably those with your children. Despite the daunting nature of this task, you are in the best place to do this in your family. More than anyone else in the world, you are the person your children look up to for love and guidance in life. Addiction has deprived them of that role model. Substance use may have led you to neglect or hurt those closest to you, but now it is time to repair these relationships.
A Reality Check: Addiction and the Parental Role
First, you need to understand how addiction has impacted your children. Substance use disorder affects more than just the individual who suffers from it. Addiction almost always hurts an entire family, especially children. A parent under the addictive influence of drugs and alcohol cannot or struggles to perform their duties, such as caring for the children’s emotional and physical needs.
They might think you consider drugs and alcohol more important than them. There can be emotions of disappointment, betrayal, and mistrust from your children. Because addicted individuals tend to lie and deceive to obtain substances or excuse behavior, family members often feel the brunt of these lies. Use your new, sober awareness to see if or how your children have suffered after being exposed to your addiction. Some children feel disconnected from addicted parents because of neglect, while others may have endured physical or emotional violence, and still, others may be at risk for substance abuse as a result.
Taking a look at what your children have endured due to your addiction can be a challenging process. This takes much bravery, but the reality check is the first step toward connecting with your children again. If relationship issues remain unresolved, family dynamics can feel strained, and the stress may be a source of relapse triggers. Come clean of relationship wounds after you come clean of drugs or alcohol.
Repairing the Parent-Child Relationship
When you are sober, the first thing you should do with your children may be to seek forgiveness. You need to be open to conversations about what specifically hurt them. Apologies need to be issued for these specific issues in the past. Be open to any questions about addiction from your children. It may take time for them to accept apologies and forgive you, so gain their trust back little by little by proving to them that drugs and alcohol are no longer part of your life. Don’t make excuses; simply acknowledge that you’ve made mistakes that have hurt them and apologize for your actions. When your children are ready, make a plan to do some family fun activities together to make up for missed times.
Getting Ongoing Professional Support
After treatment, you can and should still meet with a therapist regularly to discuss recovery coaching. The transition back to sober life takes time and a lot of support. Ask your therapist for advice on reconnecting with your children. They can point you in the direction of good resources. If you are worried about a child’s mental health or risk of developing substance use, family counseling should also be considered.
It is never too late to start this process. Many people hesitate because they do not want to show vulnerability in front of their children. The truth is, your addiction has already revealed a part of you that was vulnerable. Honest conversations with your children after you get sober show your willingness to repair past wrongs. Children usually respect parents more when they show authentic vulnerability. This is the time to earn their trust back.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Life for many of your family members may have changed a lot during your time of disengagement. Although you may be trying to reconnect with them after treatment, you must realize that not everyone is ready to reckon with this trauma, including your children. There is a chance that even your best efforts to make up for lost time will not be received well. You need to let them know that you are available and continue to make the same effort. Just believe that with time, healing is possible for everyone involved.
Do you regret the lost time with family because of your past addiction? Are you hoping to reconnect with them during recovery? The best way to connect with your children is by acknowledging what has happened. Addiction is not just a personal brokenness; it often breaks an entire family. Making reparations takes time and concentrated effort. You can work with experienced counselors who will coach you on relationship skills. That way you have a better chance at reconnecting with family in a meaningful way. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can help you repair damaged relationships with your children. Apart from the many programs that help you through recovery, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and treatment plans, our staff can provide you with insights into how to repair parent-child relationships, including family counseling. Call us at (866) 906-3203 so we can be part of your support system.