Parents who are on their way to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction have enough on their plates without having to worry about staying clean while also being a parent. Kids can be a handful, and being a drug-free parent requires a lot of diligence.
Parenting and staying sober can be a delicate balance. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make sure that the kids in your life don’t suffer because of your past substance abuse issues.
Don’t go at it alone
If you’re recovering from addiction, it’s important for you to go out and meet people who have been where you are right now. It might feel difficult at first, but it’s vital if you want to remain sober while being a parent.
Even the most prepared and attentive parent can feel like they need a break now and then, but that’s where it’s okay to ask for help from a friend or loved one – as long as you’re not asking someone who could compromise your sobriety.
It can be difficult to find somebody you trust enough to ask, but try to do some research beforehand about local parents groups or family counselors in order to avoid uncomfortable situations. Any additional support is always better than none at all, so don’t worry about it being “weird” if you have nobody else around. Take advantage of all the resources available to you as well – therapy, self-help groups, or classes specifically for parents going through or recovering from addiction.
Setting boundaries is one of the best things you can do for your kids, but it’s also a big test of sobriety.
Some parents worry that they’ll be viewed as the “bad guy” if they enforce strict rules. However, this isn’t about being mean or inconsiderate – it’s about protecting your kids from any negative influence or danger brought on by your previous drug or alcohol abuse.
Keep them away from unhealthy people and places – including yourself if you’re still using. It might feel overwhelming at first to think of everything you have to keep an eye out for, but try to take baby steps towards building a better life for all of you together.
Remember Why You Quit
The last thing parents need while trying to stay clean is guilt, which will only make it harder to reach sobriety.
There are plenty of reasons why you decided to quit in the first place, and if that isn’t enough, then try focusing on your kids. If they knew what you were putting yourself through when you used, then they’d want you to get clean.
Remembering these things can help motivate you while also reminding you not to do anything potentially harmful while raising your children. You need to have the resolve to stick to sobriety no matter what, even if you slip up.
Keep Children In The Loop
Staying clean while being a parent is about more than just keeping your sobriety in place. You also need to stay connected with your kids’ lives.
Whenever there’s a chance that your behavior could affect your children (going to therapy, talking with family members that they might not be close with), let them know what’s going on. It will help them understand why things are changing and give you an opportunity to air any grievances you have with each other so everyone can get past them.
It can be harder when your kids are still pretty young. It’s a subject matter that isn’t easily understood, and it can be a lot for them to take in. In cases like those, you have to simplify things as best as possible while still letting them know what’s going on.
Don’t Take It Too Hard
Don’t think that your kids are going to be 100% okay with every decision you make. It’s natural for kids to disapprove of what their parents are sometimes doing.
As long as you’re making good decisions most of the time, then just relax and focus on recovery for yourself. Some parents might get upset when their kids act out or talk back, but this is just normal behavior after all. They’ll learn better habits in due time, so worrying too much at this point will only cause unnecessary stress or guilt for either side.
Plus, sometimes kids have a point. Take a second to listen to what they’re saying and consider if there’s any merit to it. Maybe there is something you could do better.
The whole point of recovery is that it’s a process – one that doesn’t happen overnight. If you find that you’re having trouble adjusting to your new lifestyle, remember that there are plenty of people out there who have been where you are right now and know exactly what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed.
Parenting and staying sober are lifelong journeys. Always keep in mind the reasons you decided to stay sober in the first place and be kind to yourself and your children.