Parenting is a subject often fraught with insecurities, doubts, guilt, and unsolicited advice. Most people wonder if they’re doing it “right”—even though each family dynamic is different. For example, here are some top articles on Parents.com:
- “Thoughts We’ve All Had While Reading Parenting Message Boards”
- “It’s Impossible to Give Each of Your Kids Your Full Attention—and That’s Okay”
- “An Age-by-Age Guide to What Children Understand About Divorce”
- “The Impact of Eating Out on Your Child”
These and hundreds of other topics can pose challenges for any parent, much less one in recovery. As you’re learning to overcome triggers and find peace in your new state of being, the extra effort to be a loving, stable influence for your children might make you feel a little overwhelmed at times. Here are some ways to stay mindful about your health needs and be present for the kiddos as well.
Use Self-Care to Control Triggers and Manage Stress
Any number of factors can add to your sensitivity in the early stages of recovery. Scheduling time each day to focus on what enhances your strengths will reduce reactionary tendencies and permit a greater ability to balance your needs with those of the family. So work with your relapse prevention plan advisor to:
- Rely on therapeutic techniques to manage lingering withdrawal symptoms, such as sleep issues, irritability, depression, anxiety, and body aches so you don’t always feel on edge.
- Identify what stresses you out, and use your new coping skills to find a better sense of calm.
- Expand your recovery support network to include a branch specifically for moms and dads. If you’re participating in a 12-Step program, SMART Recovery group, or some other type of peer-influenced informal sessions, there may be people like you trying to find better ways to parent.
- Set up a routine of regular movement as a means to stay healthy and reduce stress, and include children in active playtime as often as possible.
- Remember that proper nutrition benefits your recovery and the entire family’s health, so do what you can to eat right, and practice cooking with your kids so they develop good habits and share quality time with you.
- Use mindfulness and meditation to practice the art of being present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
The goal isn’t perfection. No human being is capable of that. However, you have the ability to show your children various methods of handling life and its ups and downs that are healthy, relatable, and progressive. This modeling offers essential lessons in emotional, mental, and spiritual growth—and helps you connect to each other.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
How do we learn to parent? Often, the only examples we have are the people we grew up with—which might be beneficial in some instances, but not others. To support your intent to become a better caregiver, simply ask for help.
- Approximately 85 percent of women experience postpartum depression, and more than 10 million adults in the U.S. suffer from various types of depression. Individual therapy can address mood disorders that might be hampering your progress, or you can schedule time with a family therapist to discuss specific parenting issues.
- Do you know about parenting classes? Experts in child development and psychology offer both free and fee-based classes throughout Arizona that help you on a number of topics. Some sessions might also group children by age so you can develop influential parental relationships and support networks. Check out Raising Arizona Kids, the Arizona Children’s Association, the Pima County Parenting Coalition, and Parent Aid for opportunities near you.
Other Resources to Help You Be a Great Parent
There are many qualified experts offering resources for proper guidance and education:
- Learn about the Gottman Institute’s research into the four parenting styles and the benefits of emotion coaching.
- The Greater Good Science Center has numerous resources for parents through its magazine, podcasts, and video channel.
- InfoAboutKids.org was developed by a collaboration between agencies affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA). It covers a wide range of topics for adult caregivers about their children—and even themselves. Also review the APA’s comprehensive Resilience Booster: Parent Tip Tool and other vital parenting topics.
Talk Openly…and Simply Spend Time Together
Whether you dealt with substance abuse, trauma, process addictions, mood or co-occurring disorders, or a combination of these, helping your children understand the circumstances and clearing a path to open, heart-led dialogue is critical to effective healing.
When you take ownership of your actions, your children learn a valuable life lesson. Some aspects may have to be explained in age-appropriate ways, and it’s helpful to refer them to books, youth support groups, or individual therapy. It might also be necessary to reinforce the seven Cs of addiction so they know they’re not at fault and can develop healthy self-esteem.
Finally, demonstrate the value of spending time with each other and showing you care.
- Listen to their tales.
- Bond with them over breakfast and dinner.
- Put encouraging notes in their lunches.
- Establish new rituals that allow time for conversation about anything—or nothing at all.
- Walk the dog together each night.
- Learn a new hobby they might enjoy.
- Try engaging in their sports or arts activities.
- Volunteer together whenever you can.
- Share books and even read aloud to each other.
Many of the same actions that aid your recovery are exactly what your children need to know how much you’re invested in them. These and other simple acts of connection often don’t cost much, but are rich with powerful meaning.
Family Support From Cottonwood Tucson
Learn how to strengthen communication and interaction with your children and loved ones through Cottonwood Tucson’s Family Program. It’s available as both an inpatient treatment service and outpatient opportunity.