Raising Kids in Recovery
My wife and I have two boys under the age of three. They have never seen me arrested, intoxicated, or high, as was usual for 13 yrs of my life. I am forever grateful for this.
The following article is written by guest author Erik Frederickson as he speaks from a first-person account of raising his children in recovery.
These days I know what it is like to be changing one diaper, while I hear a crash in the other room, while the dog is chewing on the table, and my son is squirming around in anti-diaper defiance. It’s called parenting and it’s not always sunshine and smiles, as any parent knows.
Your kids may be older and or may have seen you in some not so pretty moments of addiction, but the fact remains that parenting is hard work every day all day.
Coming up on 10 years of recovery I still haven’t reached a point where everything goes perfectly all day every day. I have a feeling none of us have.
Life happens and we don’t get to control everything. I can say that my life is 1,000% better, and I can say that the problems I used to have are all gone. But I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, that my personal growth and emotional well being are completely up to me. No one else is responsible for my happiness, or sadness.
Here are 5 tips for maintaining healthy recovery in parenting
1.) Your Recovery is priority number One.
If you are high or drunk you are not only setting yourself up for failure, but you are also setting your kids up for failure. If this means you need to take turns babysitting with another friend in recovery so you can each make meetings, do it. If this means you need to wake up earlier and pray and read, do it. If this means you need to find a friend in recovery to go to the park with so your kids can run around and you can be with someone that understands, do it.
If you are loaded, you cannot be the best parent possible, therefore you cannot show your kids the best way possible. Your kids need a healthy you, so you can show them how to live healthy themselves.
If I can do it, you can do it! Together we can show our kids how to live free the wrong lifestyles we lived for far too long. You got this!
2.) Respond, don’t react.
Kids will be kids. Kids need discipline, but it’s important to know the difference between reacting, and responding.
If my 2-year-old throws a toy at my head and it hurts, it’s not the same as a 14-year-old throwing a toy at my head. Yes, a toy tractor to the face hurts, I speak from experience, but I don’t want my son seeing me snap back at him in anger.
He needs to know it’s not ok. I will talk to him firmly, I will take the toy away for a period, and I will make sure he understands what I’m communicating. But I won’t instantly snap back in frustration.
My job is to respond and show him what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior. My words obviously communicate, but my body language, countenance, and tone of voice speak volumes as well.
3.) You are not responsible for the choices they make, you are responsible for disciplining them and showing them how to make the right choices.
I am responsible for setting my sons up for success. I am responsible for removing dangerous items and obstacles from their paths and playroom, but I am not sitting in the driver seat of their mind. My actions should constantly show them how to speak, talk, and act but ultimately I am not in control of their decision making power.
I am in charge of using all my time and energy available to show them how to use their free will for their own benefit and the benefit of those around them. My job is to show them the way of character, hard work, love, and integrity. Their job is to follow it.
4.) Treat your children like the adult you want them to become, not like the adult you don’t want them to become.
My sons are still learning to talk and understand the world around them, but I’m not treating them in accordance with who they currently are. I’m treating them in accordance with who I want them to become in character and integrity.
My focus is not on who I don’t want them to be, my focus is on who I want them to be. I see the person I desire them to be in character and my words and example become the bricks that pave the path to get them there. You are the trail guide that is walking them into a healthy life.
5.) Learn from them.
Obviously, your child can’t teach you how to manage your bank account or write a resume, but the innocence and beauty of a child shine through the way they speak, play, and act. Sure they do need correction after lobbing a toy across the room at their sibling, but the imagination, pure perspective, and simple love that emanates from the heart of a child can and should be modeled.
Children have a breathtakingly glorious way of slowing us down and refreshing our gratitude and joy. If we will take the time to listen share their love, we can learn a thing or two about the simplicity and beauty of life.
Erik Frederickson has been helping people live free from addiction for years. He is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach and is passionate about Coaching dedicated people into a healthier and more purposeful life.
Listen to the Recovering Reality Podcast here