Overcoming addiction and navigating recovery is filled with heavy emotions and realizations. One’s newfound sobriety may illuminate how their drug or alcohol use has affected the family—especially their children. Reconnecting with a child in sobriety is a profound act, but it can be challenging to know where to start.
While it will take time and lots of effort, it is essential to continuously try to reconnect with children to rebuild a new familial unit based on newfound sobriety. Making daily efforts is necessary to reconnect with those most affected by addiction and its lasting destructive effects.
Know That Your Child Was Affected
Depending on the age of one’s child, it can be difficult to know precisely how much a child has already been affected by addiction. The lasting effects of addiction on a child can manifest at an extraordinarily young age. Even if a child may not possess the vocabulary or proper emotional maturity to understand the intricacies of the disease, addiction can still cause a heavy emotional toll.
Children may realize that their home life is different from their peers or feel the emotional impact of the tense atmosphere caused by an emotionally unavailable parental figure. By the time children can vocalize the ways addiction has affected them, it is common for resentments and detrimental impacts to have already been building. Speaking with children about a loved one’s substance use is crucial in the recovery process. It is important both for those navigating their healing and for the child to acknowledge the destructive effects of addiction.
Treat Children as Equals
The first step toward reconnecting with a child while in recovery is addressing the child as an equal member of the conversation. It can be easy to infantilize or otherwise dismiss some of what a child may have to say due to their age. Regardless of the age of one’s child, it is essential to address them with respect and sincerity.
Without talking to one’s child as an equal who has suffered as a result of addiction, healing can be challenging. Being prepared to answer tough questions openly and honestly is difficult, but it is also a necessary step in the healing process.
For some, this can mean changing one’s language. Childhood nicknames may be inappropriate for such a serious conversation. It is vital to allow children to speak their minds about how one’s addiction has affected them without being impeded. A child may recount stories and emotions that are difficult to hear, but allowing this open space for children to speak and feel heard as equals is paramount for beginning to reconnect.
Apologizing to those affected as a result of addiction is a powerful part of the recovery journey. Simply saying that one is “sorry” can leave much desired. Reconnecting with one’s children means facing hard truths, and apologizing for specific events or ways a child was intimately affected is much more impactful. Apologizing for specific situations shows how one intends to change. It also forces those in recovery to acknowledge and confront these difficult circumstances, making for a more honest conversation.
Give It Time and Space
Reconnecting with children can take a long time, and each person will have their own rate at which they heal and are willing to forgive. Trying to force or fast-track this healing process can have a counterproductive, negative effect. Instead, acknowledging that this recovery is a journey can be much more effective, and allowing children their own time to heal is crucial for everyone involved.
It is also important to provide space where needed. While the impulse to want to show how one has changed as much and often as possible is tempting, it can also feel invasive or intimidating for one’s child if they are not given the proper space they need to process these changes. Respecting boundaries and time is just as important as talking about one’s sober transformation.
Continue Trying New Things
One of the most powerful things one can do in recovery is continue to better themselves. Taking particular actions to reconnect with one’s child is imperative. Continuing to live by one’s newfound sober lifestyle, developing new coping strategies and hobbies, and focusing inward to maintain this sobriety are all paramount.
While reconnecting with children is difficult, it is possible. Relapse can create an entirely new hurdle that can cause even more resentment and separation. Working each day to ensure that one’s health and sober coping strategies are practical and ready is one of the most impactful ways to show the genuine nature of one’s transformation.
Reconnecting with your child is an important goal throughout recovery, but it still takes time and effort to see through. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the importance of rebuilding a healthy familial unit in sobriety. Practicing strategies to better yourself and begin rebuilding a connection with your child is a part of a fulfilling recovery. Your time with us will be customized to fit your unique needs and goals, from detox and residential treatment to ongoing outpatient programs. Our caring professionals and peers are available to help you take steps to better yourself and develop strategies to reconnect with your child in your newfound sobriety. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us or to speak to a trained staff member about your unique situation and needs, please call us today at (949) 426-7962.