Those in recovery who have children are often most worried about how they can repair the damage caused by addiction and set off on a journey of healing with their families. In today’s world, where kids are often glued to their screens or being shuttled from one extra-curricular activity to the next, it can be hard to reach them and have quality time. Along with plenty of other challenges, parents in recovery are often plagued with guilt. They may feel like the time addiction has taken away from being present in their children’s lives has caused irreparable damage, but there is hope. Taking small steps to help reconnect with children when in recovery isn’t as hard as it may seem, but it will take commitment to the process to see results.
Children crave structure, even if they’re likely to complain when it comes to participating! Creating small family rituals like eating one meal a day together or having a set activity each week like Sunday family dinner or a group hike can promote cohesion and strengthen bonds. Families who have rituals tend to be high-functioning, and their children are more likely to have better grades, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem compared to those who don’t.
Children thrive when their parents engage them in exciting and light-hearted discussions, which is quite simple. Parents who solely communicate with their children in transactional ways (commands, interrogation) are less likely to have a close bond. Their kids are also more likely to hide important things from them, especially when they’re in trouble. Sharing cool facts about family members is a sure-fire way to spark dialogue, like where their parents met, how they were back in high school, and silly or surprising stories about other family members.
As parents in recovery begin to have more conversations with their kids, it’s a great time to incorporate material learned from substance use counseling. Many of the exercises done during individual sessions cover things like improving self-esteem, learning to share feelings, and processing emotions. Encouraging children to speak freely and articulate things they may be pondering opens a vital channel of communication and can provide a reassuring sense of validation for kids of all ages.
Along with forgiveness, honesty is one of the most critical values in focus during recovery. Being honest with children about sobriety, addiction, and the recovery journey can provide them with essential information about their own futures, as there is often a link that connects children of people with substance use disorder and being at higher risk of drug and alcohol misuse. These talks should take place once at an age-appropriate time, and while they may be difficult to have, they can bring people closer together.
Middlesex Recover offers outpatient addiction treatment to give patients a chance to become better parents, spouses, and members of their families. Using comprehensive methods that involve FDA-approved medication and substance use counseling, the road to recovery becomes clearer every day. To learn more about the programs available, call or message a local Middlesex Recovery office today.