Women and Addiction
Women who struggle with addiction often deal with intense guilt and shame regarding the impact their substance abuse has had on their children. However, it’s important to realize that every mother worries about her parenting skills. Children don’t come with instruction manuals, so we’re all simply doing the best we can.
At St. Joseph Institute for Addiction, we’ve seen firsthand how strong mothers in recovery can be when it comes to doing what’s best for their children. In this post, we outline six reasons why being in recovery makes you a good mother. Feel free to share this list with all the amazing moms in your life!
1. You Can Teach Your Children the Importance of Self-Worth
It’s not easy being a kid today. Pop culture sends mixed messages about self-worth—leading kids to think they need to look, act, and behave a certain way in order to have value. Peer pressure only adds to the confusion they feel.
As a mother in recovery, you know that a true sense of self-worth comes from within. You can help your children learn about developing their own worth by:
- Getting to know your own strengths and weakness
- Accepting yourself without judgment or excuses
- Showing yourself the same compassion and love you’d give to a friend in need
- Knowing that others who are hurtful or unkind are dealing with their own struggles—and that this behavior doesn’t reflect on you in any way
2. You Can Demonstrate the Value of Self-Improvement
It’s a key principle of recovery that our past doesn’t have to define our future. By admitting you were struggling and getting the help you needed, you took a brave step towards self-improvement. No matter what difficulties you’ve encountered along the way, your persistence is admirable.
As a mother in recovery, you have valuable lessons to teach your children about:
- Setting short-term and long-term goals
- Celebrating your successes
- Seeing failures as learning opportunities
- Not giving up when things get difficult
- Resisting the urge to compare your progress to that of those around you
- Asking for help when you need it instead of trying to accomplish everything on your own
3. You Can Show Your Children How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
A comprehensive recovery program teaches you how to live a wellness-focused lifestyle. This helps you stay sober, but you can also apply what you’ve learned to showing your children how to develop healthy habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.
You can be a good example for your children by:
- Eating a variety of healthy foods to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy
- Exercising regularly to increase your energy levels, boost your immune system, and reduce stress
- Getting the rest your body needs
- Taking the time to regularly connect with friends and family
- Making time for stress-relieving hobbies
- Limiting screen time
4. You Can Promote a Sense of Accountability
Being accountable means taking responsibility for your actions and the choices you’ve made. In recovery, this means owning up to your past mistakes instead of trying to justify substance abuse as a response to stress or a way to cope with circumstances beyond your control.
Have you ever seen a toddler who spilled a glass of chocolate milk or scribbled on the wall try to blame their bad behavior on a sibling? It’s human nature to want to cover up our mistakes, but you’ve seen firsthand how that can lead to serious problems when denying or deflecting becomes an ingrained behavior pattern. As a mom in recovery, you can gently help your children realize that everyone makes mistakes and that being accountable for our actions helps us build stronger relationships with the people around us.
5. You Can Teach Your Children About the Power of Forgiveness
Forgiving someone who hurt you is never easy, but holding on to the pain others have caused only prevents you from reaching your full potential. In recovery, you learned why you needed to forgive people from your past even if they hadn’t tried to make amends.
Note that teaching children about the power of forgiveness doesn’t mean that you should try to force them to forgive you for the hurt your past drug or alcohol abuse has caused. You can make an honest apology and ask for their forgiveness, but you can’t demand it. Instead, you can demonstrate your own willingness to forgive those around you for mistakes both large and small.
6. You Can Remind Your Children That Tomorrow Is a New Day
Recovery is a journey, not a destination. As such, you’re bound to have good days and bad days. How you handle the days where everything seems to go wrong reminds your kids of the importance of having faith that tomorrow will be better.
When your children are struggling, resist the urge to swoop in and “fix” problems on their behalf. Listen to how they’re feeling, offer relevant suggestions, and provide reassurance that you believe they are strong enough to face whatever challenges life throws their way.
Children who know they are surrounded by people who love, support, and believe in them develop the resilience they need to be happy, healthy, and successful adults. As a mother in recovery, your presence is the greatest gift of all!