6 Steps for Rebuilding Your Relationship with Your Kids While In Recovery
With Mother’s Day this month, many of us are considering our roles as parents and our relationships with our children. For recovering addicts, particularly newly recovering, these relationships can often be strained. Whether your children are fully grown or just learning to walk, consider these six steps towards rebuilding your relationship with your children when in recovery.
If your children are young, being present and going back to being their parent will be enough. They aren’t old enough to understand your addiction and likely aren’t able to remember, hold onto, or understand the ways in which you may have hurt them in the past. If your children are older, you can make your amends in whatever way feels appropriate for their age. Tell them you have a problem that you are working very hard to keep in check, you’re sorry for the ways in which you have hurt them, and you will do your best to be there for them in the future.
Validate Their Feelings
Have an honest discussion with them and communicate honestly. If they say they are angry or upset or hurt or scared, tell them it is ok to feel this way. They’ve been through a lot too. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that they have been heard, and that you love them.
Don’t Guilt Trip Them
Just because you’re here now doesn’t mean you can expect things to be different. You might feel frustrated by the pace at which your relationship building is moving but remember that this process takes time, especially for older children. Don’t guilt them for not responding to your attention or care the way you want them to.
Manage Your Expectations
Further to number three, you might want things to “return to normal” or be the way you want them to be. It’s understandable, you’re sober now and you’ve worked hard to get here. However, they might not be as ready or willing as you are. Their experience and reality is not yours and you cannot control their perceptions or pace. Be patient, give them time and space.
Keep Showing Up
Whether your children are ready to accept your amends or not, keep showing up. It can take weeks, months, or even years for them to truly accept the “new you.” No matter how long it takes or how distant they may be, stay with them, be there for them, don’t give up. Show up every day, in whatever way you can. That includes sticking to your sober path.
Have another relationship building tip for recovery mothers that has helped you and your children rebuild your relationship? Leave your advice in the comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.