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Parenting in Recovery

As if raising another human being wasn’t daunting enough, trying to do it effectively while on a personal healing journey occasionally presents challenges. Fortunately, there are many support programs and other resources you can rely on for tips on parenting in recovery and how to reinforce your family with love, respect, and joy.  

When Families Do Better, We’re All Better 

The science is clear: just as there are many risk factors for alcohol use disorder (AUD), substance use disorder (SUD), and mental health issues, there are also numerous protective factors that lessen the severity of these conditions.  

Families can be one of these protective factors. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes key factors, which we provide verbatim, that minimize the likelihood of adverse childhood experiences

  • Families where caregivers can meet basic needs of food, shelter, and health services for children.
  • Families who create safe, stable, and nurturing relationships, meaning children have a consistent family life where they are safe, taken care of, and supported.
  • Families where caregivers/adults work through conflicts peacefully.
  • Families where caregivers have steady employment.
  • Families where caregivers help children work through problems.
  • Families that encourage the importance of school for children.
  • Families with strong social support networks and positive relationships with the people around them.

As noted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reducing the chances of AUD and SUD in your children is broader than the family unit: many other influences affect a child outside of the home. That said, effective parenting, “has been shown to mediate the effects of multiple risk factors, including poverty, divorce, parental bereavement, and parental mental illness.”

Additionally, while your child may have a genetic predisposition to drug and alcohol misuse, SAMHSA notes that as their guardian, you can mitigate this risk with positive parental involvement, ensuring your child has access to “faith-based resources and after-school activities,” “prevention education for immigrant families with young children or peer support groups for adults with a family history of substance use disorders,” and other proactive aspects of support and engagement that often help break the cycle.  

Most importantly, as you learn more about the root causes for the development of your own AUD and SUD, you can share age-appropriate information with your children and be open to their questions and ongoing discussion. Early intervention and support of good mental health initiatives are strong protective factors, too.  

10 Tips For Parenting Success

Becoming a better parent in recovery involves understanding your child’s needs, regardless of age; setting a good example; and fostering a positive environment for growth. Here are 10 detailed tips to help you on this path, with additional resources you might find helpful. 

  1. Model Positive Behavior
  • Demonstrate the behaviors and values you want your child to adopt, such as honesty, kindness, and responsibility.
  • Handle disagreements calmly and respectfully to teach them effective conflict-resolution skills.
  • Show them how to manage stress and emotions healthily.

An Austin-based psychotherapist explains more.

  1. Be an Active Listener
  • Make time to listen to your child without interruptions.
  • Show you value their feelings and thoughts by maintaining eye contact and responding thoughtfully.
  • Encourage them to express themselves openly, helping them feel understood and supported.

Learn how to do this with examples from the CDC

  1. Spend Quality Time
  • Dedicate uninterrupted time to engage in activities your child enjoys.
  • Use this time to bond and create lasting memories, whether by playing games, reading together, or exploring new interests.
  • Make family meals a priority to foster communication and connection.

Here are more resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

  1. Provide Emotional Support
  • Be available to talk about your children’s worries, fears, and triumphs.
  • Help them label and understand their emotions, teaching them that it’s okay to have and express a range of feelings.
  • Show empathy and validate their emotions so they feel safe and loved.

PBS Kids For Parents provides additional guidance. 

  1. Be Consistent with Discipline
  • Establish clear rules and consequences that are consistent and fair.
  • Ensure both parents are on the same page regarding discipline to avoid confusion.
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior, and be firm but loving when addressing misbehavior.

Learn more from the American Academy of Pediatrics

  1. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
  • Promote a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
  • Educate your child about the importance of nutrition and exercise.
  • Encourage good sleep habits and establish routines that prioritize health and wellness.

Get more ideas from the Action for Healthy Kids

  1. Be Involved in Education
  • Take an active interest in their schooling, help with homework, and attend school events.
  • Encourage a love of learning by providing educational resources and engaging in intellectual discussions.
  • Work with teachers and school staff to support your child’s academic and social development.

The National Education Association provides additional support. 

  1. Encourage Social Skills
  • Help a young child develop strong interpersonal skills by organizing playdates and social activities.
  • Teach them the importance of empathy, sharing, and cooperation.
  • Role-play different social scenarios to help them navigate friendships and conflicts.

Visit the Child Development Institute to learn more. 

  1. Foster Independence
  • Encourage your child to take on age-appropriate responsibilities and make decisions.
  • Support them in problem-solving rather than immediately stepping in to fix things.
  • Praise their efforts and progress to build confidence and sense of autonomy.

Here are some starter tips from Scholastic

  1. Model Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Be open to adjusting your parenting style as your child grows and their needs change.
  • Stay informed about developmental milestones and challenges appropriate for their age.
  • Maintain a balance between providing structure and allowing flexibility for creativity and growth.

The American Psychological Association offers more information you may find helpful. 

The Family Care Recovery Program at Great Oaks

At Great Oaks Recovery Center outside of Houston, Texas, our board-certified professionals understand how important it is to evaluate the family dynamic in recovery. We’ll help you strengthen family bonds with your children and other relatives to ensure long-lasting wellness. Ask a member of our admissions team how our Family Care Recovery Program fosters peace and understanding.