Addiction is one of the most dangerous things that a family can be subjected to. There’s no doubt about it that it’s hard on a family, and the people that get hurt by it most of all is the children. If you are a parent that is working on recovery from addiction, the first thing you should be doing is giving yourself a pat on the back. You are working on the issue and trying to find a fix: the iron grip of addiction isn’t the easiest one to get out of. If you are acknowledging that you have a problem, then you are able to take steps to recovery. Children of addicts are far more likely to be addicts themselves, have difficulties forming meaningful and trusting relationships and often develop issues with their mental health.
Addiction covers many different areas, from alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling, to addiction to food and cigarettes. Some addictions are harder for a child to deal with than others, but all have a huge influence in their lives. Growing up in the midst of a parent’s addiction is hard on a child. They have to deal with mood swings, a lack of routine and daily structure, added responsibility around the house that they may be too young to cope with and dealing with the emotional unavailability on the people they are supposed to depend on the most. Children who are born to addicts are influenced by that addiction; even parents who smoke will often end up with children who smoke, too. Making that decision to change your life and recover is not an easy one, but once you have a child you aren’t doing it for yourself: you’re doing it for them and their well-being.
Learning how to be a better parent is hard enough for a sober parent, let alone someone in the throes of addiction. We include food and smoking in that list above, because even an addiction to food causes a skewed image of what is a healthy relationship with food from a child’s point of view. A parent who smokes is also being pulled by their addiction to the nicotine, and if you aren’t smoking in the house, you’re excusing yourself out of the house to do it and taking away from your child for the sake of a drag. Focusing your attention on attending the right meetings and counselling while finding your way to a new life of love for your family is important. No one said it would be easy; there’s nothing easy about ordering from ecigwizard.com when you have smoked for years or switching to apple cider when you’ve relied on vodka. The thing is, you work hard to get past the addiction so that your children will know you did your best for them. Rebuilding the relationship with your children is going to be the toughest part, especially if you have been avoiding them out of guilt and shame. Relationships CAN be repaired, though, and we’ve got some tips to get you started in your new life.
Self-Care. Addiction is a selfish thing to an outside, but for those who are in it, it’s all-consuming. To be the best parent that you can be, you need to attend to your needs. Being in recovery, you may be feeling emotions like guilt and upset at what you’ve put everyone through. You can’t keep on the right track unless you are focusing on eating right, keeping fit and keeping busy. This may seem like you are putting your kids second, and in a way, you are – you have to, if you want to preserve your sobriety and look after your children.
Admission. To be able to get through your addiction and recover properly, you have to take ownership of your addiction. It had become bigger than you, and your children need to know that it got that bad that you didn’t know you could ask for help. Children will always need an age appropriate explanation, to help them to move forward and learn to feel secure with you again. Children will always initially blame themselves when they feel like something is wrong, and you have to put them right and explain that it wasn’t them; it was the addiction. Be open and be honest. There’s no dirty little secret to be hidden anymore. Recovery is something to be proud of, so own it.
Patience. Recovery takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight and the withdrawal and the relationship building that you have to do when you are recovering from addiction are going to take patience. You also have to bear the brunt of angry feelings that your children will have had toward you for missing pieces of their lives. The entire family will need time to adjust and get back to normal after the time you’ve spent in rehabilitation centers and away from them and their needs. You need to be patient and be happy about the fact that you get the chance to rebuild anything in the first place. You have to make your actions count during recovery, and this will take time and patience.
Ask. Ask for their love. Ask for their patience while you recover. Ask for the children to believe that you are going to try your best to be the best that you can be as a parent. Ask for help from friends, family and co-workers and doctors. Take time to ask for help when you need it and ask for forgiveness from those you have hurt. You need to reach out and expect people to be wary of your recovery and wary of your promise to be better.
Addiction is not an easy thing to deal with, and you have to be prepared for your children not to understand what to make of you. Take your time to be gentle with yourself while you are in recovery and rebuilding relationships. This is a time for love and patience and you can get there.