Finishing treatment and returning to independent living in recovery is a significant step in your newfound sober life. Now that you are back home and ready to take on the world, your responsibilities will take a new precedent in your life. If you have children, this can be a challenging part of life to navigate in recovery. While struggling with active addiction, you most likely weren’t putting your child’s needs first. Now in recovery, it is time to learn how to be a loving and responsible parent. If you need guidance, there are tips to help you get back in the routine. Consider the following as you begin navigating this new chapter of your life.
Be Open and Honest
It is no secret that your addiction most likely had a profound effect on those closest to you, including your children. Young children especially suffer at the hands of a parent struggling with substance abuse as they may feel neglected, uncared for, or even unloved. These feelings and experiences can affect their growth and development, so it is crucial to address these issues once you are sober and back at home.
Talking to your child about addiction and recovery in an appropriate manner can help prompt further understanding of what you have been going through and why you haven’t been there in the ways you should’ve. Having an open discussion and allowing them to ask questions will also help the child avoid stigmatization or shame associated with your addiction. Unfortunately, it is common for children to feel guilty when their parents struggle with addiction because they believe they are the cause of it. By having these difficult but necessary conversations, you can help your child understand and get off on the right foot now that you are back home and sober.
Don’t Be a Friend
Being an active part of your child’s life once again is an exciting and nerve-wracking time, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good parenting strategies. You may feel obligated to fulfill their every desire or even give them gifts as a way of getting on their good side. However, this will often backfire in the long term.
Instead of being a friend for your child, be a role model. This will show them how they should behave to have a happy and healthy life. Young kids, especially, mimic their parents’ actions, so you should set the example through yours. Creating a stable lifestyle will allow your child to grow in a happy, healthy, and sober home that will enable them to not only be a kid but thrive in life.
Admit When You Are Wrong
During addiction, individuals often live in denial or deflect any consequences of their wrongdoings. They typically never admit when they are wrong or that their behavior is causing a negative impact in their life. Now that you are sober, it is essential to break this cycle. Admitting when you are wrong will show your child that it is okay to make mistakes as long as you recognize them and hold yourself accountable. If you do something wrong such as yell at your child for bringing home a bad grade, remember to apologize. This simple act of apologizing will teach your child to show humility and own up to their mistakes.
Focus on Health and Wellness
Children typically mimic their parents’ actions as a means of learning how to behave in life. Seeing a parent struggle with addiction can keep children from learning how to live healthy lives that are productive and take care of their general well-being. Now that you are sober, you have the perfect opportunity to show your child how to live a lifestyle that will keep them healthy and avoid addiction. Engaging in healthy eating, exercise, getting enough sleep, and self-care is a fantastic way to help your child learn. Make them a part of the process by having them join in the fun and make suggestions.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There is a good chance that you know someone else in recovery with children, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice when you need it. There is nothing shameful about wanting to be a better parent for your child. Asking someone who has already gone through parenting difficulties in recovery will most likely have good advice to help you through it. The fact that you're asking shows how good of a parent you are and how much you care. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a fellow sober friend for parenting advice in recovery.
Parenting in recovery takes hard work, consistency, and stability. It is vital to remember that you won’t always be a perfect parent even when sober, so it’s all about doing your best. Taking things day by day can keep you on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed. However, if you need help navigating parenthood in recovery, NorthStar Transitions is here to help. We have successfully rehabilitated numerous clients that now lead healthy, happy, and sober lives. Some of these clients have children, and they have successfully learned how to be good parents in recovery. Through our alumni network, outpatient programs, and day treatment, you too can learn how to navigate parenting in recovery. You shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling lost, as many individuals feel insecure about parenting their child after struggling with addiction. Take the leap today and learn how you can be the best parent for your child. Call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400.