Recovery is a time of new beginnings.
For many parents, this means improving their relationship with their children. No matter what challenges your family has faced in the past, there’s always hope for a brighter tomorrow and a healthier family dynamic.
Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Despite the hype over helicopter parents and tiger moms, it’s important to realize that your needs matter too. Making time for self-care helps you recharge your batteries so you can better focus on your child’s growth and development.
Self-care includes time for sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, and stress relieving hobbies, as well as your recovery-related activities. If you are worried about taking time away from your child to attend 12-Step meetings or therapy appointments, consider asking a family member to provide childcare during this time. Bonding with other caring adults is healthy for your child and creates a stronger support system for times of crisis.
Another idea to consider is creating a special ritual you can share with your child after your recovery-related activities are finished. For example, you might stop for a small ice cream cone or visit the playground at a local park. These small moments of quality time create lasting memories.
Developing Your Parenting Skills
Most people raise their children following the example set by their own parents, but individuals in recovery typically didn’t learn healthy behaviors from their own parents. Thus, they need to find new ways to learn to create a positive home environment. This may include taking formal parenting classes, reading parenting books at the local library, or finding support from other parents.
There’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking for help as a parent. Every parent struggles from time to time, even those who haven’t been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Asking questions and making an effort to learn new skills shows that you’re a caring parent committed to doing what’s best for your children.
People in recovery are often dealing with a great deal of guilt surrounding mistakes they’ve made in the past. However, this guilt shouldn’t lead to overindulgence. Children do not need designer clothes, trendy toys, the latest video games, or fancy cell phones. Nor do they need parents who bend the rules and behave like friends instead of adults.
Children thrive in homes that provide consistency and stability. Having a set schedule that allows you to spend quality time with your child is the best way to help your family move forward. Adding structure to your days will also help you keep on track with your recovery, since boredom can be a trigger for cravings.
Helping with homework, enjoying family movie or game nights, and planning weekend outings together are all ways you can show your child how much you care. Finding a hobby to share, such as painting, woodworking, cooking, or playing a musical instrument, is another option to consider.
Parenting Tweens and Teens
One of the biggest misconceptions about parenting is that only infants and toddlers need a parent’s attention. Although younger children do require more assistance and supervision of day-to-day tasks, tweens and teens still need a parent’s love and support. Older children are learning time management skills, building meaningful friendships, and figuring out their plans for the future. They’re also dealing with peer pressure and confusing messages in pop culture.
You may think that whatever mistakes you made in your youth prevent you from being able to offer guidance to your children, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t need to be perfect to be a role model. In fact, knowing how you struggled with addiction and rose above the problems caused by substance abuse can inspire your tween or teen to face life’s challenges with greater confidence.
Seeking Therapy for Your Children
Addiction affects the entire family, so it’s important to realize that your children may need help processing their own feelings. Seeking family therapy can help everyone learn to develop healthier communication patterns and process past trauma. Individual counseling may be useful as well, especially for children who are having trouble at school, engaging in destructive behaviors with friends, or showing signs of anxiety or depression.
At St. Joseph Institute for Addiction, we’re committed to providing clients with the resources they need to build a better future for themselves and their families. Our holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs are personalized to fit individual needs, including addressing concerns you may have about your relationship with your children.