Being a parent can be one the most difficult but beautiful undertakings in a person’s life. Add to this the daily maintenance of sobriety and you have what can be at times a very overwhelming situation. Striking the correct balance between being a nurturing and present parent with your personal needs of fellowship and 12-step work can be daunting, but it can also be extremely rewarding. It’s important toremember that an important part of treatment for parents should involve a life skills training that includes a focus on parenting in recovery. So be proactive and ask what resources they can recommend for when you leave treatment.
Rome wasn’t built in a day though, and so it will be with parenting in sobriety. It takes time to learn this balance and even once you think you figured it out, it’ll change again as new demands and challenges are presented.
Many parents in sobriety were not sober throughout the duration of their children’s lives and this offers an extra set of challenges. Just how do you go about rebuilding your own broken psyche, while also attempting to reestablish relationships with your children, if they are damaged? This is a question that many mother’s or father’s face in early sobriety. It is hard enough to get and stay sober with limited demands on your life, but doing so while also keeping up with family life can be exceedingly difficult.
This is one of those times when the clichés in AA really come in handy, because it is important to remember, “easy does it.” There is a reasonwhy the 9th Step is not immediately thrust upon you when you enter the rooms, and in this particular case it is very applicable. Most of us want to immediately attempt to reestablish, or establish for the first time, better relations with our children, but unless we have first gotten correct with ourselves, this is a fool’s errand.
The preceding steps allow for this and so especially in early sobriety it is important to remember to practice self-care, doing the things that you need to do in order to get better yourself, before you can hope to fully correct things with your children.That is not to say that you can’t start to practice the principles taught in AA immediately in your life and in your relationships with yourchildren, but an overarching amends is not to be expected instantaneously.
Taking ownership of your alcoholism or addiction can go along way with the reestablishing of relationships with your children, and can also help them later on in their lives. This suggestion is really a personal preference, depending on how old your kids are, or how much they really saw ofyour addiction, but it can really make a big difference in the end. Not only does it show a dramatic change in you as a parent, as most us were always lying, shifting blame, and never truly accountable, but it can also start a dialogue with your children that may help them to avoid drugs and alcohol as they get older.
Alcoholism and drug addiction has a genetic component andI personally believe that the more that our children are aware of what we have been through and the fact that there is help out there, the better chance they will have to break the cycle of addiction and not have to repeat our mistakes.
Once you have been sober for a while and your relationshipswith your children have been reestablished, or in most cases improved beyond anything you could have imagined, a new set of challenges will more than likely present themselves. You may actually start to get some pushback from your kids and your spouse about the amount of time that you spend involved in recovery related activities. If your spouse is also in recovery, then you may not experience this, but that scenario will mean that you and your spouse will have to figure out how to balance both of your meeting schedules, which can also be difficult.
So what do you do if you start to experience this pushback,after all didn’t AA save your life and bring you back to your family? While I can offer no definitive answer for this, because each mother or father must decide what is best for them and their family, what I can say is that carving out specific time for your children, no matter how busy you are, is worth its weight in gold. This may mean that Saturday mornings you go out and do something fun together, or that a night or two during the week you forgo a meeting to stay home and be with them. This is not only what should be done, but it also allows your children to really be able to see the changes that have occurred in you.
Many of us while drinking or drugging were absentee parents, even if we were physically present. Getting sober means that we now have the opportunity to be present with our children, find out what their interests are, and participate in their lives. It is important to do this even when the demands of work and AA seem to be pulling us in 20 different directions.Remember that a little can go a long way and being able to share your new life in sobriety with your children is one of the greatest gifts that life has to offer.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director atStodzy Internet Marketing.