Addiction is, without a doubt, a disease that impacts the entire family.
As a mother, when you come to realize this, your drive to recover often comes from how harmful your substance abuse has become to your children.
You want to be the best parent that you can, but you realize that to truly recover, you will need to get help.
Since getting help ultimately means some form of addiction recovery program such as the ones offered at Sandy’s Place, you want to try as best you can to explain your condition to your children and still be a supportive parent as you tend to your needs.
While this process requires some acclimation, with the time you can find a balance that will allow you to be a better parent for your children as you continue down the path of recovery.
Below, are just a few pointers on how to get the ball rolling:
No matter how old your children are, they’re paying attention to your every move.
They may not have a full understanding of what’s going on with you, but they notice a change in your habits, moods, and interactions with them.
Your children see that you are isolating yourself more, experiencing mood swings, and it affects them.
The only way to maintain a lasting relationship with your children where they can come to understand your troubles is to be brutally honest.
Of course, this honesty should be within reason and age-appropriate (as we’ll discuss next), but trying to hide the truth or mask it as something it’s not will only backfire in the end.
Take a few moments before talking with your children to prepare yourself.
Determine what you believe you should tell them, and prepare yourself for the questions that may follow.
Be Age Appropriate
Every child won’t comprehend addiction and its severity the same way.
Therefore, you’ll need to alter your approach to addressing the matter with how old your children are.
What might be discussed with a teenager, for instance, may not be the conversation you have with your ten-year-old.
Ensure that within your conversation that you let them know you do have an illness and that you’re going to get help.
With older children, of course, you could explain the depths of addiction, and what it has done to you personally.
This can be a preemptive way to ensure that they don’t follow in your footsteps.
If you’re not sure of how to address substance abuse and addiction with younger children, there are plenty of online resources that can give you pointers.
Be Willing to Apologize
Though you may not have believed that your addiction or substance abuse was affecting your children, it was. Addiction alters who you are, and your realities and can make it hard to carry on life “as usual.”
Those closest to you are often affected by it the worst. If your children feel slighted, or address their emotional concerns for what this addiction has done to them, you must be humble enough to apologize.
Though this is not something parents are in the habit of doing to their children, in this instance, they want to know that you’ve recognized your actions and how they made them feel.
This makes it easier for them to heal as you recover.
Don’t Push the Issue
You can’t expect your children to comprehend such news and not have some resentment or negative emotions about the matter.
It will be imperative for you to allow them to feel whatever it is they express to you.
If they’re angry, allow them to feel that way.
You cannot force them to forgive you, nor can you force them to “get over it” faster than they’re willing to.
While you may already be enrolled in a substance abuse recovery program, it is important to get your children some assistance as well.
There are emotions that they may not be able to process or don’t feel comfortable expressing with you.
Having a third party unbiased opinion to help them process everything is best.
Work with a counselor that specializes in addiction recovery and facility therapy.
Rehab centers can often point you in the right direction if you’re not sure of the best expert to talk with.
It is natural to be anxious about addressing the issue of addiction with your children.
They view you like this “superhero” who can do no wrong, and admitting your faults, expressing your apologies, and even hearing what they have to say can be tough.
Be that as it may, having an age-appropriate, open, and honest conversation with them is a must.
It shows them that you care about them and are willing to make a change for the better.