Your positive transformation on the road to recovery has now lead you all the way to your children. It is time to introduce yourself as the new and sober you. Of course, you will naturally feel nervous.
How will they act? Will they accept you? What can you do to show that you are truly transformed?
Prepare yourself and then take that leap – introduce your new sober life.
Answer questions about your sobriety
Kids are inquisitive. They are going to want to know things and they will ask you questions. The best thing to do is to be honest. There is likely a world of unresolved emotions and memories retained by your kids. Now is not the time to sugarcoat your story.
Kids may ask you about why you were using. They will want to understand your treatment and, if you were away in residential treatment, they may want to know where you were. You say you need to go to a meeting – they want to know what that is. When you need to avoid specific situations due to temptation or trigger – your kids may not understand. They will seek reassurance that you are going to remain sober.
Kids can have some wild questions, but whatever they ask, answer. Honestly.
Apologize and ask for forgiveness (and let them know it is not their fault)
Part of recovery is seeking forgiveness and making peace with past wrongs. Whether you like to admit it or not, you likely did some hurt and/or damage to your kids in a moment of badly influenced judgment. To make these right, you should:
- Explain what you feel you have done wrong.
- Apologize for your actions.
- Under no circumstance should you make excuses for your actions.
- Be honest and share your feelings.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Share with your child how you intend to avoid this situation in the future.
- Make a point to let your child know that it is not his or her fault.
Apologizing and asking for forgiveness is a huge part of re-patching the relationship with your children.
Quit beating yourself up – let go of the guilt
Just when you think you have finally got a grip on your addiction, your emotions, your daily living skills, and your coping skills – you remember you need to face your kids.
Life is full of obstacles and there are many people in the world with two left feet. We all stumble at some point. However, sulking and beating up your guilt-ridden self is not going to solve anything. In fact, it can likely make life worse.
Be an example for your children. Guess what? They will falter in life, too. Maybe like you did, maybe not. But they will want to beat themselves up, too. Its natural. Are you going to show them that its okay to sulk and not ever be able to move forward because of the weight of the guilt they will carry? Or will you show them that people make mistakes – that their parent made mistakes – and to get up, dust yourself off, put on a confident smile and move ahead, one strong step at a time?
The latter seems to be the best bet. Quit beating yourself up and let go of the guilt. Now!
Manage time wisely
Life is busy. Life with kids can be even busier. It is important that your kids know you will be there for them when they need you. Practice time management skills for an easier way to handle demands. For example:
- Use a calendar. You may choose to use one on your phone, tablet, or computer. Or, some may find that using a handheld paper calendar works best.
- Mark down all your appointments on your calendar. If you find that a soccer game, piano recital, doctor visit, or play date is scheduled for the same time as your usual meeting – you will need to prioritize. Your kids need you to be present.
- Don’t skip your meetings. Meetings are in many locations and at many varying times. Find another meeting.
- Whatever you do – do not use a busy life as an excuse to stop going to meetings.
How you plan your time can determine how quickly your relationship with your children will blossom. Make time for them, but make sure to take care of yourself, too. If you aren’t well, they won’t be either.
Actions speak louder than words
By now you have probably learned that actions speak louder than words. In other words, you can talk and talk about how you will do something, but whether you actually do it will speak the loudest. Your kids know this too.
If you make a promise to your children, keep it. If you say you will be somewhere or you will do something, do it. This is how you build trust. And, trust is something that you will either need to build or re-build with your children.
Anyone can talk – show them you mean what you say by following through.
Consider family therapy
Sometimes family therapy can be a great resource. You have your support team and, believe it or not, they need theirs. Therapy can do many things for your parent-child relationship, such as:
- Open the door for communication.
- Create a safe spot for you or your kids to share things that may be awkward or uncomfortable.
- Discover coping skills as a familial unit.
- Help work to build trust or re-build broken barriers.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of therapy. It is beneficial in so many ways – even short term family therapy can assist in getting over a difficult hump (such as introducing your sober life to your kids!) and reconnect.
You are not the person you were when you were using. You know that, but your kids may not understand that just yet. Make time for them, be honest with them, and show them by your actions that you take living sober seriously.