Parenting While Dealing With Addiction Recovery – How to Cope

Substance addiction and abuse is an equal opportunity destroyer. It wreaks havoc to everything and everyone it touches without any discrimination.

When addiction touches families, specifically parents, the outcome is devastating. It damages the family dynamics and erodes trust, a vital component for children’s development. As such, kids with parents battling substance abuse are deprived and do not get their needs met.

Parenting means caring about your child’s emotional, physical, and mental needs, but when a parent is in the grip of an addiction, caring for children takes a backburner. Regrettably, drug-endangered children display certain emotional and negative behaviors like aggression, school failure, relationship problems, depression, and apprehension.

Equally frustrating, the hopelessness and fear for a parent battling keep children in a flight/fight mode, which is devastating physically and mentally.

However, not all is lost. Many parents start on the difficult journey of addiction recovery but without learning new parenting skills and having the right support, the parent in recovery risks inflicting further injuries to their kids.

But, can we end this emotional cycle?

Yes. Through conscious effort and sobriety, parents in recovery can adapt and learn positive parenting skills to break the emotional cycle and build a robust parent-child relationship.

With that in mind, let’s explore how parents can cope while dealing with addiction recovery.

Parenting While Dealing With Addiction Recovery

Challenges parents in recovery face

Parenting, on its own merits, is quite difficult. When you throw in addiction recovery, the task becomes overwhelming for any individual.

The recovery process comes with a ton of challenges that can cause you to relapse. Identifying the challenges enables parents in recovery to be aware of them and nip them in the bud. These challenges include:

  • Having unrealistic expectations;
  • Overcoming the stigma associated with addiction and recovery;>
  • Re-creating broken family dynamics, trust issues, and communication problems;
  • Unable to balance between their recovery needs and parenting commitment;
  • Preventing relapse.

Many other factors can contribute to relapse; from boredom to financial pressure, and difficulties at work.

To overcome these challenges, prevent relapse and rebuild family relationships, some parents opt to incorporate the whole family in their recovery, therapy process, but many others, due to fear, shame, and guilt, want to undergo the process alone.

There is no good or bad choice, it’s simply a matter of finding what works best for you. Parenting and coping with recovery is a learning and relearning process.

Addiction recovery and parenting coping tips

  1. Embrace self-care

Self-care is addiction recovery oxygen. It enables you to put your feelings and needs first, ensuring you get in touch with them and process them in a healthy manner.

Embracing sobriety means taking care of your physical and mental health well enough to fulfill other responsibilities.

Remember, shame and guilt may overtake your recovery process, especially if your kids were exposed to your addictive behaviors. Picking up the pieces is hard but avoid overcompensating for the lost time and embrace self-care first.

Integrate recovery treatment with self-care activities like:

  • Eating well-balanced and nutritious meals;
  • Engaging in different physical activities like the gym, walking, running, and dancing;
  • Sleeping enough, roughly 8 hours;
  • Embracing stress reliever’s activities like meditating, praying, yoga, volunteering, reading, or listening to music, knitting, gardening, and any other activity that engages and calms your mind.

Self-care enables parents in recovery to gather the strength needed to preserve their sobriety and become great parents.

  1. Expect and accept dynamic family changes.

An addictive parent fosters a dysfunctional family system that causes emotional and physical barriers, creating unhealthy ways of relating.

For this reason, becoming sober entails facing the damage and changes caused by your addictive behaviour. However, accepting these changes and learning new healthy ways and tools of relating to your loved ones will enable everyone to work on fine-tuning their behaviour as well.

Rebuilding a robust family system takes commitment, time, communication, and effort from everyone. Don’t become discouraged if your child has trust issues or doesn’t adjust immediately to you. Listen, be consistent, and keep doing the right thing. They will eventually learn to trust you again.

Parenting in recovery

  1. Become aware of your addiction triggers and stressors

Identifying the situations, places, people, and emotions that threaten your sobriety will you help to cope with parenting and recovery.

For example, while a child can motivate a parent’s sobriety, parenting difficulties and responsibilities can become an addiction trigger. Maybe you have a smart-mouthed, moody teenager or a toddler at the terrible-twos phase, whose behaviour pushes you to the brink of relapse.

After starting recovery, triggers and stressors will become a regular confrontation, but embracing practical and healthy ways will reduce chances of relapsing.

However, unexpected triggers will happen; it’s normal. Tune into your emotional and physical responses to overcome such episodes. Ideally, use your support system to identify and overcome your triggers.

  1. Express your feelings

Recognizing and confronting your emotions helps parents in recovery to accept and take ownership of their addiction. Sometimes, admitting addiction problems is the hardest part, but expressing your feelings leads to taking ownership.
Ownership involves admitting your addiction problems and the damage they have caused, identifying your triggers and taking responsibility for your recovery. 

Focus on positive steps instead of negative ones. This reinforces healthy behaviors, promotes self-esteem and leads to better parenting.

For example, for parents in recovery, instead of hiding your recurring emotions like panic, expressing, and dealing with it helps your kids to understand the power of dealing with negative behaviors and emotions and serves them well in their lives.

  1. Be patient

Changing and embracing new parenting skills and becoming sober doesn’t happen overnight. You need patience.

While parents in recovery may wholeheartedly embrace sobriety, kids may be more cautious. Perhaps you tried sobriety and relapsed. It’s going to take your kids a while to catch up with you.

Remember, kids hide their pain but act out in aggressive and unruly behavior like back talking or becoming extroverts or introverts. Learn to validate and understand their pain and where there are in the process.

Being patient enables your loved ones to adjust to the newly sober you. The key remains to be consistent with your sobriety and behavior.

  1. Embrace family fun activities

Families undergoing addiction problems typically don’t engage in family fun activities.

Show your kids you care by listening to them, talking, and doing the activities they love. This creates an effortless way of rebuilding trust and creating a sense of family.

Whether spending time roller skating, baking cookies, walking the dog, reading, watching movies, or listening to music, or supporting their interests, you need to embrace having fun without the presence of substances.

Family time

  1. Build new routines

Chances are you weren’t around much during your addiction years.

Now that you have embraced sobriety, start creating and building new routines that incorporate your little ones.

Ask your kids about their daily habits. Don’t expect them to change their daily routines to suit yours now that you are back. Instead, it finds ways to slot into their routine.

Some routines you can embrace include:

  • Cooking dinner together
  • Cleaning together or packing their meals
  • Driving them to their activity practice or school

Remember, don’t force all routines at once. Participate in one or two activities and slowly integrating their routines makes it easier for both you and your kids.

In Conclusion

Rebuilding your sense of parenting after an addiction happens gradually, and it doesn’t happen on your timeline. Instead, it’s rebuilt on continued sobriety, parental love, and positive behaviour. Forgive yourself, say sorry, focus on progress, not perfection, and show unconditional love.

Remember, kids are astonishing sponges when it comes to parental love. A display of your heartfelt expression, interest, and unconditional love can rekindle the lost relationship. Besides, whether 3, 14, or 55, children look up to their parents for guidance and support. So, it is your duty to continue setting clear boundaries, expectations, and communication, it’s never late to break the cycle of unhealthy relationship patterns.


About The Author: Christopher G. Aiello

Mr. Aiello has a reputable 30+ year trajectory in law practice. Having been selected for multiple recognitions and awards, he practices in the Superior Court of New Jersey in both the trial court section and the appellate divisions, the Workers’ Compensation Court, and Municipal Courts. He has appeared in dozens of televised, print, and internet media. Now, he’s dedicated to his law firm Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman P.C.


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Helping Your Children Cope With Your Recovery

Sobriety is a hard-won and hard-fought status of being. You have battled through the toughest fight you have ever had and now you’re trying to stay on the straight and narrow. Just because you have had a month or even just a week of being sober from your addiction, doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. What can put us back into a relapse is our lifestyle. Too much stress in your life can cause you to go hunting for trouble you know you should avoid. We all have certain things we do when we want to relax. Some of us drink a glass of wine, smoke a cigarette, or make comfort food. Sooner than we would hope, we end up doing more of these things than we should. In the meantime, we have families to raise, children to help go to school and help them with their homework, do the laundry and make dinner. They are the going through a tough time just as you are, but in different ways. You as their parent, need to help them cope with your lifestyle so they can remain a healthy part of your life.

A needless burden

Children must be talked to about your addiction and your planned recovery. They have to realise that it’s not their fault that mother or father are going through a tough time. Children might feel anxious to talk about it and this can lead to them blaming themselves. They can see that their parents are going through a painful time, and that their home life isn’t like any of the other kids at school. One way you can help children to cope with your recovery is to inform them of your routine or when you need some alone time. It’s best that they know what makes you calm down, what they can do to not bother you when you need to relax and when they can help make life easier by helping out around the kitchen, or with housework etc. They need not carry the same burden you are, so help them to help you.

Parenting in Recovery

In need of care

When you have children that are disabled, going through recovery can be destabilizing to their own way of life too. Yet if you’re a single parent or even a two working parents household, helping your disabled children can become life-altering. They are already not like normal children, they need extra care to get ready for school and putting their clothes on, support with eating and understanding the homework assigned to them. That’s why you should consider an in home care giver that can take over the responsibilities for your disabled children. You have to focus on beating your demons, and you can’t do that when so much of your time is consumed with helping the kids. The care givers are checked properly by the police and their credentials are matching the quality of care required. If you don’t understand the disability care system, the company can also help you through it, so you can get the right kind of care for your child who may have a particular disability that is not common.

A place to speak

Children that have parents that are battling their demons often feel alone. They feel as if they can’t talk to their parents about some issues they worry about, such as ending up in a foster home, losing their parents and possibly being homeless. For these kinds of situations they need to be given and outlet where their voice can be heard. That’s why giving them the option of counselling is a very good avenue to send them down. With a counsellor, they can share their thoughts and anxieties, which can end up helping you to understand what they are going through also. It might just end up leading to you becoming a better parent, adjusting your lifestyle to abate their worries and adapting to a different lifestyle to help them cope. Sometimes, it’s just a good idea for kids to vent and let off some steam. They might be shy in front of their friends and fearful that they might get picked on and bullied for having parents going through addiction recovery.

The relationship between you and your children will obviously go through a little strain when you’re battling addiction. But on the road to recovery, you can do many things to help them cope with your new lifestyle needs. Counselling is certainly one of the best outlets they can use to vent their frustrations. Getting extra care for kids with disabilities will help make your life easier so you can get back on your feet quickly.

 

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