Recovery from addiction isn’t something that just ends when you finish rehab or the day you move out of your sober living facility. It’s a lifetime journey, one that is just getting started. And if you’re a parent, one of the more pressing issues in your mind might be, “How do I parent well, now that I’m in recovery?”
Tips to Remember As a Parent in Recovery
While following a list of tips might not get you all the way to that “Recovering Parent of the Year” award, it could help keep you focused on what matters, now that your recovery journey is well underway.
Continue to take care of yourself
Effective parenting is such a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding job that it’s tempting to place your recovery effort on the back burner. Don’t do it. By the same logic that flight attendants tell you to place the oxygen mask over your own face before helping your child, you need to protect your children by first protecting yourself. And the biggest threat in your life at this time is relapse, so keep working on your recovery. One way to ensure success on your recovery journey is by using the JourneyPureCoaching™ app.
Don’t give up on structure
For some parents in recovery, it’s tempting to shower your kids with nonstop fun and games as a way of “making up for lost time.” Try to resist. For both yourself and your kids, a strong life structure—one that includes consistent meal and bed times, efficient morning and evening routines, non-negotiable household rules, and designated fun time—is essential to a less stressful life. By the same measure, a lack of structure can breed insecurity in children.
Actions matter, now more than ever, so keep your promises
Whether it was missing a school play or not being emotionally available during a time of crisis, chances are excellent you broke some promises to your kids while in the throes of addiction. Since actions speak louder than words, be sure to show your kids that you’re in a better place by really being there when they need you.
Remember, you can’t fix everything
Part of the “high” of early recovery is a feeling of invincibility, that with this new lease on life, all your problems can be swept aside. Unfortunately, your children are not likely to feel the same way. They might even be unwilling to forgive and forget the wounds of the past.
This is normal, so don’t get in their way or try to “correct” their feelings. Just do the work you need to do to stay sober, strive to be a better parent, and let time do its healing work.
Don’t be afraid to address past hurts
No matter what their age, your children are likely to have questions about your recovery and the addiction that got you into it. It’s important to be as open as possible about that period of your life, if for no other reason than, as children of an addict, they could be more susceptible to addictive behaviors as they grow. Also, let them know they are in no way to blame for your past actions.
Live in (and for) the moment
It’s likely your addiction robbed you of some precious memories of good times with your kids, but when it comes to parenthood, there’s always another surprise, another tender moment, just around the corner. Cherish the now whenever possible.
Go easy on yourself
Recovery is a challenging, lifelong journey, one that demands constantly reestablishing and refining your healthy coping mechanisms. One of the most essential of healthy coping mechanisms is letting go of guilt. Things didn’t go so well for Mom or Dad today? It’s all right. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and tomorrow will be better.
Treatment at JourneyPure at the River
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic substance abuse problem, please contact us today. We offer medically-assisted detox services, individual and group counseling, and experiential therapies. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready for you to get healthy and stay healthy.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.