10 ways to re-connect with your children in 2018

Perhaps it was a divorce or work, or years spent drifting apart after the recovery began. Parents and children walk separate paths at some point, and some do so far sooner than others. But when addiction becomes a problem in your teen’s life, being a supportive parent is more important than anything else. However, not everyone can smoothly transition to a peaceful life at home with their teen after rehab. Learning how to reconnect in a meaningful way can bolster your relationship and make a difference in your teen’s life.

If you’re here to learn how to reconnect with your teen not just because of addiction, but because of other factors such as work and divorce, then there is still much to learn here. Whatever the reason may be, if you want to reconnect with your child, you have to understand what that would mean – and how best to go about it.

This article is meant to help give you a better idea of what is expected of a parent when it comes to reestablishing a bond with their child.

Every point made here can help you be a better parent, and understand how to connect with your child. Before we get into what you could do to reconnect with your child, a few things first.

There Will Be Anger

Being a teenager is hard. If you don’t remember what it’s like, just ask yourself how much you would be struggling with your emotions if, on one hand, your hormones and brain structure drive you towards brash decision-making and moodiness, while on the other hand, you have no clue what to do with your life and the reality of living hits you with its full might.

Add to that the temperament and confusion of early recovery, the temptations of addiction even weeks into sobriety, and feeling of betrayal and struggles with shame as a teenager fluctuates between blaming their parents for their problems and blaming themselves for every bad decision, and you have a cauldron of volatility.

In all of this, it’s important to remember that you love your child – and they love you. Children rely on their parents until they don’t – and the transition is always painful. Yet even if your teen happens to be on the cusp of adulthood, your role as a parent never ends – and it will always be your responsibility to support your child. Keeping that relationship alive and strong throughout recovery is a cornerstone of successful treatment.

Reconnecting with Your Child

  1. Devote your attention to them

The first step to reconnecting is preparing for it. If you spent some time apart, or if you haven’t had a proper conversation in years, it’s important to look back on your relationship and see where the issue might be. Oftentimes, it’s a matter of availability and trust – and you have to provide both to kick things off.

  1. Spend quality time together

Ask your child when they might have some time off, and find things to do together. From playing a game to taking a class together or just spending some time out in town, there are plenty things you can still do with your teen to have fun together. Just make sure to plan ahead – cutting into your teen’s weekend without first asking could create an awkward situation.

  1. Take a moment to talk, in earnest

Certain things can’t just be brought up off-the-cuff. Take the time to schedule a talk with your teen about things that must be said, and discussions that must be had. Part of reconnecting with your child is clearing the air on ambiguous or controversial topics and events.

  1. Learn about their interests

Teens will always be into things their parents neither understand nor approve of, but as long as it isn’t as dangerous or damaging as addiction, it’s a good idea to learn more about your teen’s interests and – most importantly – understand why they enjoy them.

  1. Incorporate them into everyday life

It’s not enough to open a weekly timeslot for your teen. Make them a part of your life. If your teenager no longer lives with you, then try to chat a little every day, and talk to them about their day. If you do live together, then don’t make it a habit to ignore one another. Greetings and simple questions like “how was your day?” can go a long way, as long as the lesson is mutually respected and applied.

  1. Work together around the house

Most people don’t like doing chores, but they have to be done – and responsibilities like chores are a good way to help a teen develop the discipline they need in life to master their addiction. However, doing chores together instead of alone gives you a great opportunity to connect, and lessens the boredom.

  1. Prep a meal together

Cooking together is a quick and easy way to both bond and create a lovely meal – and having a heart-to-heart while chopping onions helps mask the tears on both sides. It’s also a useful life skill, and many recipes are easy to pick up and master.

  1. Give them space

A big part of recovery is becoming self-sufficient – and that’s a big part of adulthood, too. Give them the room needed to expand and grow, take on interests on their own, and make time for both responsibilities and the things they enjoy doing.

  1. Be available

Nothing hurts your efforts at reconnecting with your teen like making it clear that you’re not available for reconnecting. But just being available is not enough – you have to make it clear to your child that you’re always there for them.

  1. Hug

This is harder to do with some teens than it is with others, but a genuine hug can go a long way to help make someone feel better no matter what has happened. When we hug each other, we feel a barrage of good things, caused by a cascade of positive neurotransmitters related to feelings of joy and love.

Things to Consider

Reconnecting with your child isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. It takes time, effort, patience, and will often involve a few missteps here and there. Your goal is not to reshape the teen or change who they are, but instead, your job is to be there for them, give them the room they need to extend and explore themselves and the concepts of adulthood, independence, and responsibility, but always be there to curb things when they go too far, and to connect on different levels.

For example, give your teen the freedom to choose what to do with their time – but be there to tell them when they’re wasting too much of it doing things that are not constructive.

Respect their schedules and plans, and understand that even if you keep your calendar open at specific times, they might have other things planned with friends or partner.

Raising a teen in recovery is difficult, but it’s never impossible. It’s a journey you and your child will walk together, and recovery is just another chapter in the book.

Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, has been studying the brain for over 20 years. His unique focus has been exploring the effects of meditation and mindfulness on the brain, and he has come to recognize that meditation and mindful awareness can alter brain function, mental activity, and interpersonal relationships. His research and extensive books and articles on the brain, has led to providing easy to understand descriptions of difficult scientific concepts about the brain. Read more!

Electroconvulsive Therapy | Parent Treatment Advocates

It’s true that electroconvulsive therapy has received a poor reputation, for good reason. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) formerly known as electroshock, gained widespread popularity among psychiatrists in the 1940’s and 1960’s. However, it appeared to be a crude form of treatment, producing horrifying muscle jolts, crackling noises, and pain.

Since then, this form of therapy has evolved. Today, it is done under anesthesia and considered to be one of the safer methods to treat severe cases of depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other forms of mental illness, particularly mood disorders. Read more!

Gifted Teen Depression | Parent Treatment AdvocatesThere has been an increase in youth suicide in recent years, including suicides and suicidal ideation among gifted adolescents. Although there is no direct evidence linking suicide with the unique population of these children, many researchers in the mental health field are beginning to explore this connection and recognize that additional research is needed.

It is only recently that mental health professionals are becoming more aware of the unique psychological and emotional concerns of gifted children and teens compared to non-gifted children. Some of the specific impairments that a gifted teen might experience include: Read more!

Drug Rehab For Boys | Parent Treatment Advocates

If you are a parent of a male adolescent who is in need of treatment for an addiction, mental illness or both, there is good reason to bring your son to treatment that is gender specific.

Your teen will obviously have a different experience at a boy’s rehab center than he would where both males and females were participating. When females are not attending the same treatment center, boys can keep their thoughts and attention on their recovery without having romantic or erotic distractions. In addition to this obvious benefit, being with other boys undergoing the same process can be supportive. For example, rooming with another adolescent male, attending group therapy with other boys with the same concerns, and working with issues that are specific to the male gender can support the emotional and psychological growth of your child. Read more!

Adolescent Self Harm | Parent Treatment Advocates

Often parents are at a loss when it comes to self-harm and self-injury. At first glance, the behavior of harming oneself seems incredibly foreign and to discover that their child is participating in some form of adolescent self-harm can be difficult to accept.

However, recovery is possible. Yet, the road to get there can be challenging. One parent admitted that it was incredibly difficult to allow her daughter to set the pace of recovery, which is a typical suggestion offered by a therapist or psychologist. She admitted that giving her daughter the space to vent her feelings was frightening. This mother was afraid that when her daughter returned to reflecting on challenging emotions that the self-harm would return.

Yet, this is far from the truth, especially for teens who are using self-harm as a means to cope with intense feelings. Having an outlet to articulate feelings, to get them out of the bag, so to speak, prevents the need to find another way to cope with them. Talking about emotions and expressing them is a healthy form of emotional release.

This mother also had a challenge with trusting the levels of support from friends, family, and the therapist, especially when things got rough. She admitted that learning to trust the process was difficult, especially when it looked like things were getting worse. She learned not to always question her daughter about the self-harming pattern; instead, she eventually allowed her daughter to open important conversations herself.

Once you know that your teen wants recovery as much as you do, trusting her becomes easier. The following are other tips to remember when supporting your teen through the self-harm recovery process:

  • Hold on to the belief that recovery is possible
  • Remember that there will be ups and downs.
  • Know that there will be occasional setbacks.
  • Don’t lose hope when it looks like your back to the drawing board.
  • Make sure your child knows that she can direct the pace of recovery.
  • Make sure your child is choosing recovery because she wants it and not to please others.
  • Help your teen stay focused and motivated, yet still be sensitive to her emotional mood.
  • Encourage the rest of the family to be sensitive.
  • If you’re unsure about how to help your teen in recovery, ask her.
  • Let your teen explore with healthy techniques that might reduce harming.
  • Make time for your teen and invite her to share about her process.
  • Discuss any setbacks calmly and safely explore the reasons behind them.
  • Discuss various ways of coping with emotions versus self-harm.
  • Facilitate the exploration of consequences of her choices, not only self-harming ones.
  • Provide extra support when it appears that circumstances might get in the way of recovery, such as spending time with certain friends, or an unexpected emotional challenge that might further self-harm.

Self-harm is in most cases an outer reflection of an inner experience. Once that inner experience is recognized and healed, self-harm will typically no longer be an unhealthy pattern in your teen’s life. As a parent or caregiver, your presence and support, although she won’t always rely on it, is essential in your teen’s recovery.

If you are reading this on any other blog than Parent Treatment Advocates or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via
Come and visit our blog at http://ParentTreatmentAdvocates.org

Adolescent Grief and Loss | Parent Treatment Advocates

Adolescence is an already challenging time. The amount of stress from psychological, emotional, and physical changes can be overwhelming for some teens. Add to this breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, parents divorcing, or the loss of a close friend to death and adolescence becomes that much more challenging. Read more!

Teen Bipolar Disorder

When some people think of mindfulness, they might think of religion or spirituality. Although mindfulness is sometimes a part of religious or spiritual practices, it alone is not a religion. Nor is it really all that spiritual.

Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. Today, it is often used as a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologists. Read more!

Teen Substance Abuse | Parent Treatment Advocates

There’s a clear benefit to taking medication: you feel better. Whatever ailment you might be experiencing goes away and you can return to a normal level of functioning. If a headache or migraine is keeping you in bed, for instance, you can take a pill designed to take the pain away.

However, there’s a point when relying on medication or other substances to relieve symptoms goes too far and in fact becomes an addiction. For example, when a person wants to calm down and believes that in order to do so medication is necessary, the medication becomes a crutch. The sense of relief, happiness, or relaxation experienced with the medication is not authentic. Finding a sense of calm is not sourced from one’s own power to relax. Read more!

Parenting Teens | Parent Treatment Advocates

Often when a member of the family is suffering from an addiction, a common dysfunctional pattern of the other family members is to enable that addiction. When the relationship is between a parent and teen, the parent is often the lead enabler.

To enable means to assist, facilitate, or make possible. However, the pattern of enabling in families with an addict can be indirectly harmful and unhealthy. Instead of helping the one who is addicted to alcohol or substances, a spouse or sibling might do things for the addict that he could be and should be doing for himself. To help someone is to assist in a task that he or she cannot do alone, such as calling the pharmacy when your spouse has lost his voice from strep throat. Enabling is completing a task that he can do on his own, such as paying the bills for an addict who hasn’t or can’t work because of his addiction.  Read more!