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Raising children isn’t easy and when you have a history of addiction, it can be even harder. That’s why being prepared is essential. Here are seven things you should know when you’re raising children in a recovery setting.
Addiction Impacts Everyone
While addiction seems like a solitary disease, it’s far from it. Addiction impacts everyone the addict knows and loves, and especially children, who are too young to understand addiction and the draw it creates.
Children Are at Risk
It doesn’t matter how much you try to protect them, children of addicts and alcoholics are at a greater risk than children without addicted parents. As if they haven’t already been through enough, these children are more likely to have emotional problems, suffer from addiction, and engage in risk-taking behaviors.
They may have more problems than their peers in school, with relationships, and handling aggression. They’re also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Don’t Be the Parent You Had
You don’t have to be the parent you had, you can be the parent you want to be. Just take it slow. It takes time to develop positive parenting skills, so take it one day at a time. And remember, all parents have bad mom and dad moments.
Have a Healthy Home
While most believe genetics do play a role in the development of addiction, it’s just a role, not a life sentence. Societal and environmental influences are just as important as DNA, so make your home a healthy one.
Don’t use drugs around your children and don’t let others do it either. While you can’t change the genes you give them, you can take away the negative environmental elements that lead to addiction.
Practice Self Care
There is truth to the mantra that if you want to take care of others, you must take care of yourself first, and it’s especially true in parenthood. It’s so easy to let your children’s needs consume your own and neglect the things you know are best for yourself. But that doesn’t help your children in the long run. Instead of letting your recovery slid, make sure to get to your meetings and keep it a priority.
Engage in Family Fun
When you’re addicted, sobriety can seem boring and lame, as the only fun you want to have involves drugs and intoxication. Once you embrace recovery, it’s time to rediscover fun as a family. While amusement parks and trips to the zoo are a blast, so are things like taking a walk, drawing pictures together, and starting a garden.
Engaging your children this way shows them that you like to have fun with them and that it can be done without drugs or alcohol.
Focus on the Positive
Addiction has a way of turning people into pessimists, but now that you’re in recovery, it’s time to let all that negativity go, especially when it comes to your children. Instead of focusing on the bad thing they did or the chores that didn’t get done, make an effort to focus on the positive and catch them doing something right. It boosts their self-esteem and yours as well.