relationship with your children

Rebuilding a Relationship With Your Children in Addiction Recovery

Published on November 25, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

If you’re a parent, substance abuse and addiction can take a severe toll on your parenting abilities and your relationship with your kids. In recovery, regaining your children’s trust and strengthening that bond is likely to be one of your top priorities. While each situation is unique, strengthening your relationship with your kids requires the same strategies as building trust and respect in any relationship. It may also involve additional layers of complexity due to the parent-child dynamic. Here are a few tips to inspire you towards a healthier, closer relationship with your children. With patience, you can make up for the time you may have lost while in active addiction.

Make Time

One of the most terrible and destructive aspects of addiction is its ability to take time from your life you will never get back. Moments you could have been spending with your children may have been wasted because you were intoxicated, hungover, or not present at all. While there is no way to change the past, you can let your child know that they are a priority by making time for them whenever possible. Now that you are sober, you can spend time with your children in a way you could never accomplish during active addiction. Make time to see movies, go to the beach, play sports, and allow them to show you what they enjoy doing. Be open to trying new things and willing to learn from your kids. You may be surprised by what you have missed out on while distracted by drugs or alcohol.  

Understand Your Impact

Many people in active addiction convince themselves that they are not affecting their loved ones as much as they actually are. For parents with addictions, it is common to fool yourself into believing that your children are too young to understand. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you convince yourself they’re too old to care. The truth is that whether your kids are small children or grown adults, they are bound to be aware of your substance abuse on some level. Your behavior or complete absence while intoxicated inevitably impacted them emotionally and psychologically. Don’t brush off their feelings or assume they don’t notice their surroundings. Instead, be open and willing to accept their perception of you and your past. From that point, work towards changing how they see you in the future.

Avoid Setting Expectations

Addiction and forgiveness are both complex experiences unique to each individual and every circumstance. You may be doing everything right when it comes to keeping your promises and maintaining your sobriety. Even so, you can’t expect your loved ones to meet you halfway immediately. Your children are especially likely to be emotionally affected by your addiction, as well as your recovery journey. During this time, it is essential to remember that they are on a journey of their own. Don’t set your relationship with your kids up for failure by creating time limits for forgiveness or demanding that your bond return to how it was before your addiction. Instead, take your time with earning trust and asking for forgiveness. Let your children process their feelings and opinions about the situation at their own pace. 

Seek Professional Help

As with any relationship, sometimes professional help is the most efficient way to move the healing process along. Children of any age can benefit from talk therapy. Many families choose to attend therapy together during addiction recovery to work on rebuilding trust and strengthening family ties. Additionally, a mental health professional may be able to help explain addiction and recovery to your children in a way that makes more sense to them. Many treatment programs offer family resources and counseling to facilitate these critical discussions. Adult children of individuals with substance use disorders may also benefit from one-on-one therapy. These sessions can help them work through the emotional pain that comes from being a child of addiction, especially for those who have spent much of their lives around substance abuse.

Prioritize Your Sobriety

As with any other aspect of recovery, protecting your sobriety should come first. Even the best efforts and intentions will fail if you don’t keep your promises by staying sober. This means that during every step of the process, you must remain committed to your recovery work. Attending meetings, seeking therapy, and taking care of yourself mentally and physically must be your priorities. Be honest with yourself and those closest to you if you find you are struggling. Reach out for additional help if you feel your sobriety is threatened or you experience a relapse.

The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses. We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers. Existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially tricky. Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career. Nor do you have to resign yourself to a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.

At Simple Recovery, we take a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction. This approach makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community. At Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we dedicate our time to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490