Being a parent in recovery involves balancing numerous challenges. Parenting, even when you are not in recovery, is an overwhelming experience for many. You not only have to attend to your child’s basic needs, but you also serve as a reliable support system for them as they pass through developmental milestones. To be a better parent in recovery, there are multiple considerations that have to be addressed within yourself as a parent, but also with the relationship that you have with your child or children.
Give Yourself Time to Put Yourself Back Together
Most mental health professionals will tell you that the most important way to be a better parent is to first learn how to take care of yourself. The first step of self-love in recovery is breaking yourself free from your addiction and substance dependence. After that, it may take a long time to cope with feelings of guilt and shame that accompany the addiction experience. These factors are essential to address in anyone trying to achieve liberation from a substance or other addiction, especially when it comes to being a better parent for your children.
Part of putting yourself back together involves intense and constant self-reflection. For you to stay on the right track in recovery, recognize how far you have come since the very beginning of your journey. If you feel like you are still in the hardest part of your journey, there are many baby steps you can take to get you out of your rut. Mindfulness is a topic that surfaces time and time again because it allows you to focus in on the things you can control and find serenity. If or when you experience triggers, cravings, or unhealthy thoughts, mindfulness techniques can be used as healthy coping mechanisms. It is crucial that you find time for yourself to relax, unwind, and listen to what your body and mind may need from you throughout your entire recovery process.
Moving beyond addiction is easier said than done. Even when you have moved beyond the distressing mental and physical stages of withdrawal, you may still struggle in early recovery. Stay patient with yourself throughout these stages, and recognize that you are truly doing the best that you can. Even when you experience the dark days throughout recovery, you can remind yourself that being a parent is something worth staying sober for. Remember that being a parent is one of the most surreal life experiences that exist in this world.
Addressing Genetic Vulnerability to Addiction
The development of addiction comes from a combination of factors including genetics and environment. While you may have experienced, or continue to experience, struggle with addiction, understand that your child may not experience addiction in their own future. To decrease the risk of your child developing an addiction, instill healthy habits in them early on. Parental figures are the most influential people in a developing child’s life. By providing your child with a healthy and nurturing environment as they age, their vulnerability to becoming addicted to alcohol or other harmful drugs will decrease substantially. Consider some of the following examples of healthy parenting habits.
Purposefully Make Time for Your Child
Even though addiction recovery can take up a lot of personal time, it is essential that the time you spend with your child is intentional and meaningful. When you are with your child, try to experience the world through their eyes. Connect with their interests and ask them questions that allow you to understand their unique and amazing perspective. This could involve you doing creative projects together, playing in a park, or watching their favorite movie with them. There is much that you can learn from your child that will benefit your recovery process. When you have conversations with them, be curious and compassionate. Intimate time together will help your child realize that you are working to be a connected parent who is intentionally involved in their life.
Discuss Your Struggles With Your Child
Having conversations about addiction with your child is important. When conversations are tailored age-appropriately, even the smallest of discussions will create an honest and open space for your child to learn and to ask questions. You can take responsibility for the struggles you may have caused and apologize when necessary. It is important for your child to understand that your addiction is not their fault, as this is essential for personal healing as well as their own healing. Be cautious about oversharing, as this can create unhealthy and unintentional burdens for your child. Find a balance of being open and honest while knowing what may not be the most beneficial for them to know. At the very least, establishing communication with your child will allow them to confide in you when they experience even the smallest of struggles on their own.
When parenting and recovery are competing priorities, life may seem unmanageable. To be a better parent in recovery for your child, it is essential that you find ways to engage in self-love. You have to come to terms with the unpleasant feelings of shame or guilt as you free yourself from chemical dependency. Use the relationship that you have with your child as a purpose for getting sober and staying sober. It is important that you establish healthy, grounded parenting habits so you can reduce the risk of your child experiencing addiction themselves. Sharing purposeful time with your child to play while creating a safe space to have conversations about struggles are crucial factors that will help you to be a better parent. West Coast Recovery Centers wants to help you find the strength to be a better parent for yourself and your child. Call us today at (760) 492-6509.