Are you a parent who is in recovery from addiction? Parenting, even without the addition of substance abuse recovery, can be challenging. You must attend to your child’s basic needs and routines; you must make sure that they are meeting developmental milestones; you also want to see them growing academically and thriving socially. It takes all-around skills and an incredible amount of time to be a competent parent and parenting while in recovery may demand even more than that. The idea of having to be a role model while struggling to mitigate cravings and to get your mental, emotional, and physical health back on track can be difficult for some parents.
The Importance of Parental Presence
Children are emotionally healthier when their parents are healthy and present in their lives. This parental presence requires attention and care, as well as consistency and stability. While in recovery, your treatment, cravings, and lack of attention might be at odds with this job description, but it can be a roadmap for you to get to that point. The first step is to become a sober parent who has a positive bearing on your family. Do not isolate yourself from parental duties; take one task at a time, and become engaged with your child. You might ask for support from your partner while you gradually grow into a stable parental presence.
Some parents live with the guilt of knowing that their past substance use has hurt the child. They are tempted to compensate by buying gifts or being lenient on rules. But the truth is, your child needs not just your friendly presence but also a role model who builds them up with discipline and guidance. Overindulgence may create as many negative effects on a child’s behavior as addiction can. There is nothing wrong with the occasional doting or rewarding with treats, but what your child needs most is your attentive parental presence.
Breaking the Generational Cycle of Addiction
Keep in mind that while you are striving to become a more responsible parent during recovery, you are achieving something much bigger: you’re making strides to break the cycle of addiction for future generations. Many people observe that children who grew up in homes with addicted parents are more likely to become addicted to substances themselves. Maybe you can associate your addiction with your parents’ habits in some way. Luckily, since you now have the awareness that addiction affects generational family dynamics, you can make that critical change.
While in recovery, you build a toolkit of methods and practices to remain a responsible, sober, and present parent. Your treatment center might offer cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and peer support groups, like a 12-step group. You might also benefit from relationship skills coaching. Remind yourself to take being a responsible parent one day at a time. Celebrate the fact that your child is safe and healthy despite your addiction in the past.
Intentional and Wellness-Focused Parenting
Your life might be busy with ongoing therapy and treatment. But no matter how busy your schedule gets, creating wellness-inducing family routines that involve your children is essential. Changing your lifestyle to include more exercise, nutrition, sufficient sleep, and relaxation is also an opportunity to sync the children into this healthy lifestyle. Modeling it for them can keep you motivated and learning to live this healthy rhythm will benefit your family for decades, even generations, to come.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics encourages parents to help children understand in an age-appropriate manner how addiction affects one’s life. By showing your child that you are taking ownership of your past mistakes, you model honesty, vulnerability, and responsibility that are invaluable for children’s development. It will allow your child to associate more closely with your positive values.
Apologizing for how your past addiction and behavioral problems have hurt your child is also an opportunity to model accountability. Believe it or not, you will gain respect from them toward you. Open communication can facilitate trust and a positive outlook on life. It also encourages your child to become more emotionally expressive with you.
Recovery can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relearn the ropes of parenting. The self-care and relaxation techniques you learned from your treatment programs are perfect tools for wellness-focused parenting. Try some of these things to facilitate a positive family dynamic:
- Create a routine for your entire family to spend quality time together. This can be a weekly family movie night, a family game night, or a monthly family outing.
- Set dinner and/or bedtime routine can also be beneficial.
- Prepare family meals together and talk about each person’s day over dinner.
- Have a walk together and chat about likes and hopes.
Do you find it challenging to be a parent while striving for long-term recovery? It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by parental obligations while in recovery. We understand the importance of family involvement during treatment because addiction affects every family member, including children. Many of the skills you learn in residential and outpatient treatment at Laguna Shores Recovery will help you grow and nurture a positive family dynamic. Laguna Shores Recovery offers a range of resources and therapies to help families heal from the impacts of addiction. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist at Laguna Shores Recovery so we can listen, coach, and walk alongside you. We are a complete medical and residential facility offering a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and treatment plans. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we would be happy to help you navigate the emotional ups and downs of recovery.