Why It’s Important to Talk to Your Kids About Your Recovery
If you are a parent that is in recovery, you may wonder just how much your addiction has affected your children. It is understandable that approaching the subject of addiction and recovery with your children can bring about feelings of guilt and shame, but do not let these feelings hold you back. No matter what has happened in the past, today is a new day. Your children will not only remember the times you spent in active addiction, they will also remember the consistent efforts that you make to better yourself in recovery.
Children are intelligent, and it is important to remember not to underestimate their ability to grasp what was going on during your active addiction. Your children may have seen more than you realize and the only way to know is by open communication.
Talking to your children in an age appropriate way about your addiction and recovery can be immensely beneficial for all parties. It can show your children see that you take responsibility for what has occurred, and you want to make peace with what has happened, as well as teach them about addiction and recovery and maybe even keep them from going down that same path.
Tips for Talking to Your Kids
The first thing to consider when you begin to speak with your children about addiction is their age. Keeping the conversation age appropriate, as well as at a level where you feel they can cognitively grasp the situation is best. An important thing to remember when sharing about your addiction and recovery, is that addiction is medically recognized as a disease.
To avoid startling or scaring your children once you share this, you can let them know that your recovery is the treatment for the disease and that it is something that you will overcome. Also, allow your children to talk to you about how they felt if they witnessed any moments in your life when you were struggling with addiction. Ask them if they noticed any changes in you, and how they see you now. Explain that this is how addiction affects people and that is why it is important to say no to any type of substance abuse that could lead them on the same path.
It’s also important to speak to your children about recovery and what it entails. Let them know that you are continuing to work on your recovery so that you do not ever have to go back to those moments, and sincerely apologize to them for the pain that you caused.
Open and Honest Communication Is Best
When talking to your children about addiction and recovery, be as open and honest as possible. Your children are likely to have many questions about how you fell into addiction. These questions are great teachable moments that would do you some good to prepare for beforehand. You can help them learn about how a person can fall into an addiction and how they can avoid it.
Keeping an open and honest communication policy for their pre-teen and teen years can also make it more likely for them to come to you with any concerns that they have about their own friends.
If your teen is afraid to talk to you, they may not tell you that some of their friends are using drugs and alcohol. If they know you understand and if you have made this a topic they can be open with you about, they will likely come to you and tell you immediately instead of keeping secrets. From that point, you can set a boundary that your teen will no longer be allowed to hang out with friends that are using drugs and alcohol. From an early age, you can train up your children, and help them become wise and prepared as they grow into adulthood.
Talk to Your Children Not Only About Your Addiction, But Also about Your Recovery
Talking about your addiction with your children is important but remember to talk about your recovery too. You are the number one role model for your own children and they learn by your example. Talk to your kids about your recovery, what it’s like, the new-found philosophies and beliefs that you have about life and the new attitude that you have about overcoming addiction.
Teach your children the important skills that you have learned in recovery that can be beneficial, even to them, like living one day at a time, or about learning to accept life on life’s terms. If your recovery program is child friendly and your child is of age, allow them to tag along.
Once they reach a certain age, they are able to take part in meetings such as Alateen, that are geared towards the young family and loved ones of those who are in recovery. If your child can meet and talk with the children of families who have been through the same thing, it can help them learn that they are not alone.