Sobriety and Parenting
It’s hard and sometimes messy to be a parent. It’s even harder to parent while sober. The media, blogs and even books tout the wonders of alcohol for helping you get through parenthood. If you’re sober, the “mommy needs a drink” culture can be an obstacle to your everyday existence. Dealing with the challenges that come with raising kids can be difficult to manage in your newfound sobriety. Learning how to cope with stress, communicate with your children and establish a strong support network can help you stay sober in today’s world of wine-ing parents.
Take Care Of Your Needs First
Many parents devote themselves to their children wholeheartedly. They focus so strongly on raising a family that they forget to pay attention to their own needs. If you have an addiction disorder, you might end up turning to drugs or alcohol to numb yourself at the end of a long day that pulls you in everybody’s direction but your own.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. You need to put yourself first in order to get sober. That habit must continue if you want to stay successful while parenting in sobriety.
When you’re feeling especially overwhelmed, it’s important to take a time-out to do things that help you reconnect with yourself. If you have attended rehab or go to therapy, you may have learned a variety of techniques for handling these stressful situations. If not, the following self-care practices can help you reduce stress and stay sober:
If you feel too busy to remember to eat lunch or don’t make time for rituals that make you feel good, your frustration may build up. Taking time for yourself can help you release that irritation before you get to the point where you want to use again.
Getting and staying sober is very challenging, but with the right support network and tools, it's completely attainable.
Communicate With Your Kids
Even if they’re very young, your children will recognize that you have changed since becoming sober. It’s important for you to take ownership for your addiction. You can explain to them that the disease made it difficult for you to control your behavior, and you needed help you get better. You can even talk about what you need to maintain a lasting recovery.
You may need to dig deep to find extra patience for your children. It can take kids time to understand how to express their emotions in a healthy way. While they’re figuring it out, they may change their behavior or personality. They could start acting out at school or hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Helping your children find the right support can give them the tools that they need to come to terms with their feelings about your addiction. You might want to encourage them to go to therapy or take part in a support group.
Getting Away From An Alcohol-Heavy Culture
Many people drink in moderation. Alcohol can take the edge off at the end of a long day. So can many legal and recreational drugs. However, you can quickly become dependent on drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with the constant strain of parenthood.
In today’s culture, drinking or popping pills to alleviate the pressure of being a parent is not only acceptable, it is applauded. This Salon article describes blogs, books and cartoons that shine a comedic light on drinking. The movie “Bad Moms” celebrates going out to bars as a rite of passage in motherhood. The term “wine o’clock” is in the dictionary.
It can feel like you’re practically invited to turn back to your addiction. For someone who has hit rock bottom from drug or alcohol use, though, the twitter handle @vodkainthediaperbag hits a little too close to home.
Feeling crushing stress, guilt and judgement as a parent is par for the course. However, there is also a trend toward showing off your imperfections by flaunting what you do to take the edge off. You feel equally as imperfect, but you also feel left out because your friends spend their free time partying in their living rooms. You’re just trying to work on parenting in sobriety.
Having or being a parent with a substance abuse disorder is not funny, no matter how Facebook makes it appear. There is no shame in being open about your sobriety. In fact, going public about your experience may help you find the right kind of support. You’re not the only parent who has dealt with addiction, and it can help to surround yourself with people who are also working on parenting while sober and understand what you’re going through.
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-staying-clean-and-sober-67900
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/alcohol.html
- Health: https://www.health.com/condition/stress/best-and-worst-ways-to-cope-with-stress
- Self-Management and Recovery Training: https://www.smartrecovery.org/5-tips-for-building-a-strong-support-network/
- American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
- mindful: https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/
- The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/beginner-yoga
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323465
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm#:~:text=To%20reduce%20the%20risk%20of,days%20when%20alcohol%20is%20consumed.
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/dsm-5-criteria-for-substance-use-disorders-21926