Parenting in recovery
by Carolyn Knolle

Let’s face it: if parenting is challenging at best. That’s why parenting in recovery can be one of the most difficult challenges you will ever face. Much of the challenge can be in dealing with feelings of shame and loss that goes along with being an absent parent when caught up in the cycle of addiction.

Learning to be a sober parent takes diligence and consistency. Choosing to be compassionate to our children after the trauma endured and still being a parent takes time and attention. There is a balance you have to strike between overparenting and being a child’s buddy. Remember that it took time to rediscover yourself as a sober person and that new relationships with your children will emerge.

Finding out who your child is and becoming a responsible parent in a supportive way takes practice. Structure and stability in daily life makes a firm foundation for children to trust again and goes a long way in providing a functional family unit. Your children need to know that the rules have changed for the better and that as a parent you’re going to be there and be present; things are going to be different from what occurred in the throes of addiction.

The bottom line is that you need to make the apology for being an absent parent and then get to parenting. Make reasonable expectations for your children and then follow through and be consistent. Take time to nurture and listen and model the behavior you would want them to have.

In recovery you rediscover yourself, all facets of yourself. Let your newfound healthy lifestyle be a reflection of who you have found in all those hard won battles. Even if you did not have a parent to model yourself after, become the one you wish you had by the skills you have honed and developed. 

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