Healthy Parenting in Recovery: Our Advice

Healthy Parenting in Recovery: Our Advice

Starting the journey of addiction recovery whilst also being a parent can often feel overwhelming, especially at first. This article provides parents in recovery with general and practical advice, encouraging them to create a nurturing, safe and healthy environment.


Our Advice to Healthy Parenting in Recovery

The balance between your own personal healing and providing the support and love your children deserve requires not just strength, but also a huge sense of compassion and understanding for yourself and your child (or children). This guide is designed to offer insights and strategies to those trying to navigate this balance.

Really Embrace Open Communication

Healthy relationships and healthy parenting in recovery from substance abuse are all about an environment of open and honest communication, especially if you have older children who may be more aware of the situation.

Children, regardless of their age, can perceive and feel changes in the household atmosphere, whether it’s subconscious or not. Re-building a healthy relationship is about addressing these changes directly can help them understand the recovery process you’re going through whilst also helping them feel more secure.

Tailor the conversation to be age-appropriate and understanding, ensuring they know that recovery is a journey of healing. Encourage questions where possible, and express your emotions healthily. This will show them that it’s okay to talk about feelings and seek support. This is an excellent example of warm and supportive parenting skills.

Engaging in family therapy or counselling might also be worth considering. Addiction really does impact the whole family unit, and this can provide a safe space to address these issues, work through trauma related to active addiction or such past events, improve communication, and strengthen relationships.

Professional guidance can also offer strategies to address the guilt parents can feel and the unique challenges in addiction recovery and help the family grow together.

Create a Safe and Positive Environment

Addiction affects children in many ways, and it can also make them feel unsafe and insecure at home, the environment in which they’re supposed to feel the most relaxed and protected.

This is why it’s so important to really work on creating an environment for them that is all about peace, love, safety and comfort now that you’re in addiction recovery. After all, this feeling of safety is essential for healthy adolescent development.

A physically safe environment is one thing, but emotional expression is also important, and it should be encouraged and supported. Celebrate successes, no matter how small, and focus on building a positive outlook for the future.

Self-Care Also Has to Be a Priority

Those who have battled substance use disorders will know that self-love and care are rarely thought of in active addiction. And, in the recovery process, self-care also often takes a backseat. This is especially true for parents who are struggling to cope with feelings of guilt associated with their past drug or alcohol abuse.

However, (and we can’t stress this enough) looking after your well-being is so incredibly important for effective parenting. Engage in activities that make you feel good, from a physical, emotional, and mental health perspective. Whether it’s reigniting that passion you once had for a hobby, exercise, taking yourself to therapy, or simply quiet time to reflect, taking care of yourself shows your child that self-love is a non-negotiable, and it ensures you have the energy and resilience to be there for your children.

Remember to Establish Routines and Boundaries

Stability is key for children. Of course, this is particularly important in households where children have been exposed to such stressful life events and navigating recovery.

Establishing consistent routines and clear boundaries provides a sense of security and normalcy. From quality time mealtimes and bedtimes to consistent age-appropriate rule setting about behaviour, these structures help children learn positive discipline, know what to expect and understand the family’s values.

Routines can also be therapeutic for recovering parents, offering a predictable framework that supports their own healing process, too.

Lean on Your Support Network

Recovery can be isolating for so many families, but it really doesn’t have to be.

Engaging with support networks, whether they are substance abuse support groups, recovery support services, your friends, family members, or even online communities, can provide both practical and emotional support. These networks offer a platform to share experiences, challenges, and successes.

For parents in recovery, joining groups that discuss and combine parenting and recovery topics can be extremely beneficial. They provide valuable tips on balancing both roles effectively.

Practice Patience and Forgiveness (Including With Yourself)

Whether we like it or not, recovery is (almost always) a journey full of ups and downs. There will be moments where you feel stronger, and there will be times when everything feels hard. Understanding this and the fact that these moments will pass will make the lows of recovery feel much more bearable.

Be patient, both with yourself and with your kids. Early recovery is especially testing, and some days will be better than others, and that’s okay. Remember that this is all part of the healing process.

Also, this is easier said than done, but go easy on yourself for any past mistakes related to substance abuse. It does not define who you are, nor does it make you a bad parent in the present. So, instead of beating yourself up about things that can’t be changed, see the past as a chance to learn and grow stronger. And showing your kids how to remain consistent when it comes to being patient and forgiving will help you be a better parent. Parents are the most critical influences on children – and you’re teaching them powerful lessons about understanding and caring for others.

And remember, If you’re struggling to stay in recovery, it’s also essential to reach out to support to prevent relapse.

Focus on Quality Time

Spending quality time with your children can be incredibly healing for kids, especially when rebuilding trust, a sense of comfort with a parent-child relationship, and processing past parental absences.

And remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean grand gestures. It can be as simple as playing a game, spending time talking or taking a walk. These moments of connection reinforce the positive aspects of your relationship and bond and provide a sense of belonging and love that is essential for both parent and child.

Educate Yourself and Your Children on Addiction and Recovery

We say this a lot on our blog page, but knowledge is such a powerful tool in recovery. Educating yourself about the process, the potential challenges, and strategies for coping can empower you to navigate this journey more effectively.

Similarly, providing age-appropriate information to your children about addiction and recovery can help them understand the process and provide them with a chance to learn, understand and empathise. There are many resources available, from books to online content, designed to support families through addiction recovery.

Remember, You’re Not Alone

Perhaps the most important piece of advice for parents in recovery is to remember that you’re not alone. Many have walked this path before you and have emerged stronger and more connected with their families. Lean on your support networks, be open to learning and growth, and know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Being a recovering parent is undoubtedly challenging. But, the silver lining is it also offers an opportunity for real growth to be made and a deeper connection with those who look up to you.