How To Parent while In Recovery
Parenting is generally a challenging task. However, aside from the usual parenting challenges, a parent in recovery faces more challenges. This is mainly because of trying to find a balance between focusing on recovery and being there for the kids. When you have struggled with substance abuse for some time, your kids have probably been exposed to unpredictable mood swings and behavior and possible neglect and abuse. In fact, most kids living with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to suffer from depression and anxiety. That being said, recovery is the first step to making amends. Discussed below are a few parenting tips during recovery.
If you do not take care of yourself, you will be of little help to your kids. Most parents in recovery deal with guilt and shame about how they treated their kids when they were using substances. And so, to make it up to them, they overcompensate to the point that they neglect themselves.
However, parents need to continue working on their recovery journey. There is no one-day treatment when you have been dealing with addiction and are in recovery. You have to keep researching ways to get better, find out more about recovery centers, look for support groups and find a recovery coach. Parenting is a learning curve, even for a parent who has not used substances. Therefore, do not try to be a super parent. With time, things just naturally fall into place, where you find you are in a good place with your kids.
Apologize to the kids for any unpredictable behavior you displayed while you were abusing them. Do not try to sweep things under the rug and assume that everything will be back to normal because you are in recovery. Your kids might be holding on to anger, hurt, and resentment due to your behavior before you decide to get sober. Pretending nothing happens only adds confusion. Talk to the kids and allow them to ask questions, especially if you have gone to a treatment center. Let them know that you realize your mistakes and are ready to make amends.
Engage in Family Fun Activities
Most families with a parent struggling with addiction do not know how to have fun as a family. However, even as you focus on your recovery, it does not mean you can not engage in family activities like going for a picnic or a trip. Part of having healthy family relationships is spending time together and going back to a routine. It can even be simple activities, like going on a walk together or baking cookies. Let the kids feel that there is some normalcy returning to their lives.
Be Honest and Accountable
This largely depends on the age of the children. While it is good to let your kids know you are getting help, how you explain it to a five-year-old is not the same way you would explain it to a 16-year-old. However, find a way to be honest about the addiction and inform the kids you are getting help. It would help if you also let them know they are not to blame for the situation. It may seem obvious, but at times kids internalize blame, thinking they did something that pushed you to start using it. This may be something you will have to say a few times before they can fully internalize that they are not to blame.
It is normal for you to feel that you have to make amends and be there for your child during recovery. Considering that parenting is a huge responsibility, the fact that you want to make things right means you are committed to the job. Just like recovery takes time, rebuilding a relationship with your kids may take time as well. Be patient and be there for them.