Parenting Is Hard
No matter how many kids you have or how old they are, there seems to be a never-ending stream of challenges. Can you afford all the diapers you need? Do you remember how to do long division? Can you get kid one to soccer practice and kid two to piano lessons before kid three needs a ride home from their student government meeting? Can you appear calm while teaching your child to drive? Is that sniffle just a cold or is it something more serious? Will there be alcohol at that party? Wait, they want to go to college where?
Those questions just scratch the surface of all of the concerns and conundrums most every parent faces. So we will say it again: Parenting is hard.
Parenting in Recovery Can Be Even Harder
And it can be even harder when you are in recovery from a substance use disorder. Layered on top of all the issues related to your children are all of the issues related to maintaining your sobriety. It can certainly seem like you simply cannot fully attend to your recovery because you have all of your available attention focused on your kids and their needs.
But of course, you have to focus on your recovery because slipping back to drug or alcohol use is not only a serious problem for you; it’s a serious problem for the young people who depend on you.
How can you strike the appropriate balance? We have some ideas.
Focusing on Yourself First Isn’t Selfish, It’s Necessary
Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind when you are attempting to be an effective parent while in recovery:
The worst thing for you and the worst thing for your kids are the same thing.
Losing your sobriety is the worst thing for everyone involved because when you are actively drinking or taking drugs, your parenting skills will, to put it mildly, be impaired. You and your children both need you to stay sober.
And that means that sometimes—indeed, often—you will need to focus on yourself so that your sobriety stays intact.
Things to Focus On, Specifically
Here are some things you should be sure to stay on top of:
- Stick to the plan. While you were in treatment, you developed a plan for moving forward. Following that plan—which may include things like going to 12-Step (or other recovery) meetings, keeping a gratitude journal, healthful eating, and much more—is central to protecting your sobriety.
- Take note of the triggers. There are going to be situations and stressors that cause you to crave the drugs or alcohol you have worked so hard to leave behind. Knowing what those triggers are—and having a plan for managing your reaction to them—is important.
- Draw strength from your support system. Sometimes the best thing you can do is spend a little time with supportive friends and family. A shared meal, a game night, a trip to the movies—these things and more can give you a chance to recharge by giving you some adult time.
- Boost your physical and mental health. Eat right, get some exercise, establish a good sleep routine, practice mindfulness, dive into a hobby you truly enjoy. All of these things (and more) support your overall well-being. And when you are well, you are best able to be an effective and loving parent.
Now, you may be thinking that taking time for yourself and focusing on your needs is selfish. We understand why you might feel that way, but we would encourage you to reframe the situation.
Think of caring for yourself as setting a good example for your children. They will benefit from seeing you take care of yourself as you demonstrate the important balance in your own life.
We Can Help You Get & Learn to Stay Sober
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we offer a robust blend of expertise, experience, and compassion to help people who are struggling with a substance use disorder regain their sobriety. We will personalize a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs—including any co-occurring mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other issues).
We understand that you may be reluctant to leave your children so that you can enter residential treatment. But we would remind you that the very best thing you can do for your children—and of course, for yourself—is to get and stay sober.
Being a parent is hard, but it can also be the most rewarding experience of your life. Let us help you regain your sobriety so that you can experience all of the joys that come with raising kids.