You’ll do anything for your children.
As a parent, your job is to be there for your children when they need you the most and help them navigate the confusing and fascinating phenomenon of childhood.
Often, this can be just as exciting and frightening for the parents as it is for the children. And when crossing through certain territories – such as addiction – it is rarely anything other than frightening.
Witnessing your own child struggling with addiction is something very emotional and difficult to deal with for most parents. However, the only way you can really help your child get through this is by keeping it together, communicating, and learning. Without the right knowledge, a parent can very quickly exacerbate and damage the bond between them and their child by saying the wrong thing.
These tips are meant to help you know what to do and what not to do, and they’re meant to be tips to help you understand how you can support your child during recovery.
Their Sobriety Means Your Sobriety
There’s more to this than solidarity. Supporting your child means making things easier for them – helping them stay away from old memories and potential triggers during early recovery is part of the process.
If your child has an addiction problem, then it’s not a good idea to drink or take any other drugs in front of or near them, and getting the support of others in the family to avoid drinking during social occasions can help make it a little easier and make staying sober feel a little more normal, rather than drawing attention to their sobriety and addiction.
This means more than not drinking. Your sobriety is vital as support to them – and that includes cutting out any potentially enabling behavior. Enabling behavior might include tolerating relapses or low usage, or making excuses for their behavior rather than helping them address it at the root cause and improve their emotional state.
Enabling behavior generally involves you running around or away from the problem, when you should be addressing it as a parent, and helping your child come to terms with their condition and overcome it.
Learn More About Addiction
The most important thing you can do is learn absolutely everything there is to learn about your child’s addiction. Read up on the drugs they use or may use, contact their therapist, and learn more about their emotional problems, and find out what might have contributed to their usage, from peer pressure to personal feelings, potential self-esteem issues, and more.
Addiction is multi-faceted and incredibly complicated, but a good place to start is finding out what your child is dealing with.
Support Their Passions, Not Their Wants
Beating addiction is a long and hard road with many different forks leading to different places – and one of them is the path your child will have to take to relearn what it means to enjoy life, and live a sober life without regrets or cravings. To do so, they need to tap into their passions and hobbies and find something they can truly care about, something they can do that helps them cope with life’s biggest challenges without turning to drugs.
Most parents just want their kids to be happy. But you can’t buy their happiness with toys and trinkets, and it’s a bad idea to try and turn a rough emotional situation into a better one with surprise gifts. Understand that these are going to be extremely tough times, and the only thing you can truly do is support their emotional growth, and direct them as they find their way through this challenging time.
An effective way to help them grow is by supporting them in their passions and hobbies, and helping them find happiness that way. Be sure to monitor both their behavior and their movement to ensure that they aren’t running into old friends and old memories, in order to avoid risking a relapse.
Confront Negative Behavior and Be a Parent
Many parents struggle to effectively raise their child while sober, because they’re scared of causing any emotional harm that might lead to a relapse – so they tolerate, ignore, or write off negative or emotionally abusive behavior as part of the process. However, you’re doing no one a favor by walking on eggshells – least of all your own child.
Be a parent, and address them effectively and compassionately for rude or disrespectful behavior. Being sick does not give them the excuse to treat others like dirt, or insult them. While their struggle is understandable, it’s a sign of emotional immaturity to take out your own anger and frustrations on someone else, and that’s not a habit that should be encouraged passively through tolerance. Instead, it needs to be pointed out and addressed, regardless of your child’s addiction.
Find Support for Yourself
A tool is only so useful if it is properly maintained. While it’s demeaning to see yourself as nothing more than a purpose, many parents are so determined to help their children through addiction that they will neglect their own needs to see after their child.
But the point here is that even with that unhealthy mentality, ignoring your needs becomes pointless and unwise after a very short amount of time. You need physical and emotional support if you’re going to get through this in any shape or form, and you need help just as much as your child does if the family is going to survive this addiction.
Parents are people, not tools, and there’s more to you than being the watchful guardian and eye of your child. Make sure to take the time to tend to your own needs, and find a support group for parents with addicted teens. Talking about your personal struggles and hearing others talk about theirs and how they overcame them can be relieving and uplifting.
Be prepared for a long journey. Addiction can take a while to overcome, and there may be setbacks and disappointments. But don’t let it get to you – you need to be your child’s emotional rock, a stable person in their life they can rely on no matter what.