Parenting in Recovery: What Helps You Be Your Best

Parenting in Recovery,

There are a lot of great jokes about parenting. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, “A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” 

Humorist Erma Bombeck wrote, “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” 

Screenwriter Judd Apatow joked, “I think every kid thinks their dad is goofy. Even actor Johnny Depp’s kid must be like, ‘Oh God, my dad with those flipping scarves. This isn’t a pirate ship—it’s Costco, Dad.'”    

While in recovery, it might feel as if you’re the only parent with challenges and concerns. The jokes above demonstrate this certainly isn’t true, but you might need to focus on different aspects of self-care. 

Do Your Recovery Work to Be Your Best Self

While it’s natural to feel guilt, shame, and other negative emotions about how the family changed because of your substance use, living like this day after day is unhealthy. Make sure to open up to your therapist or 12-Step sponsor about these feelings and learn how to acknowledge and move through them.   

Remember to prioritize fortifying wellness behaviors such as eating whole foods, exercising, practicing good sleep habits, and spending quality time outdoors. Fortunately, sharing these activities with children provides endless opportunities for playtime and togetherness. In addition, you’ll feel a boost knowing you’re creating a healthier way of life for them.

It’s also essential to have honest, age-appropriate conversations with your kids. Honest dialogue gives you a chance to take ownership of your condition and past actions, make sincere apologies, allow your children to express their emotions, and talk about how the family will work together to form new paths. Younger children may have a different view of the family’s situation compared to teenagers, so check out some of these books that explain addiction for helpful talking points and guidelines. 

Find Support for Being a Good Parent

How did you learn to parent? Most of us learn as we go, following the influences from our own families, come what may. You get more training on how to drive a car! What might surprise you is there are numerous resources for parents to not only get a tip or two, but also to make supportive connections with others so that you never have to feel alone in this life-altering task. 

For example, you can access great advice from these groups:

  • Active Parenting—which has a mission to “support and prepare families through ‘every stage, every step’ of their child’s development.” From its Marietta-based office, it offers in-person parenting classes, but there are some online options, too.  
  • Here We Grow—an Atlanta-based organization featuring mama circles, family music classes, and private/group parenting support online and in-person.
  • Parenting Advisor—which provides online education “for families in transition.” Many topics are covered, including basic skills, co-parenting, how to thrive, and planning for the future. 
  • Simplicity Parenting—part of the Center for Social Sustainability, offers numerous resources for understanding aspects of parenting and parenting styles, as well as access to local coaches.  
  • The Family Nurturing Center of Georgia—a division of the national organization, is based in Snellville and hosts free community-based workshops and for-cost programs on a variety of topics, including substance abuse prevention.

If you participated in Willingway’s family program at our inpatient rehabilitation facility or other family counseling, don’t hesitate to ask your session leaders for additional support.

Keep It Simple
Many parents try to be superheroes for their kids. That’s not necessary. And it’s perfectly okay to acknowledge that it’s hard sometimes to be a kind, considerate parent—much less a human being!—all the time. Once you understand you have many ways to relate to your kids, it takes the pressure off.  

Tools of Growth is an organization that encourages “mindful parenting, which means being aware and understanding and managing our own thoughts, emotions, and expressions, as well as those of our kids.” These experts segment the wonders of parenting into three categories: 

  • Be happy. Fostering good communication and stronger bonds between parents and children makes everyone happier, and adds to better self-esteem, confidence, and life habits. 
  • Think positive. Just like you learned in treatment, acknowledging and managing emotions with healthy coping mechanisms creates a more positive outlook, which “builds social and emotional intelligence.” 
  • Do good. With positive thinking, confidence, and emotional intelligence, it’s easier to join together and make the world a better place. Volunteering with your family strengthens relationships and helps you provide life lessons by example. 

Spending quality time with your kids has less to do with being the perfect parent or having a lot of money, and more with how you pay attention and expand their lives. The simple things often have the greatest impact, such as: 

  • Being active outdoors 
  • Reading aloud together
  • Sharing hobbies with each other
  • Being goofy sometimes
  • Putting a standing date on the calendar for one-on-one time
  • Listening to their stories
  • Coloring together
  • Thinking of ways to be kind to others and acting on them
  • Being a part of playtime
  • Having a dance party
  • Learning to make a special food together
  • Writing cards to other family members
  • Asking fun questions to encourage conversation

Our Willingway Family Is Ready to Help Yours

At our continuing care community groups throughout the Southeast, you’ll find other parents wanting to be their best selves for their loved ones. Take advantage of any opportunity to ask for help and support.