As a parent, you’re number one priority is your children. As a parent with substance use disorder (SUD), your first priority becomes protecting your child from your addiction. Some confuse this with hiding it from them. In actuality, choosing to be honest about your problem and seeking help from a treatment program is when true provision starts.
Your child will always be your child, no matter the age. The responsibility of a parent entering a 30-day treatment program is to establish an understanding of your addiction and plan for treatment with your family.
Taking the leap to get sober requires accountability. Being honest with yourself at this moment also requires being honest with others. A conversation with your children prior to leaving for treatment is critical in taking those first steps into your new life.
Your Responsibilities as a Parent Entering a 30-Day Treatment Program
In active addiction, taking care of your responsibilities often doesn’t happen. This could be as simple as brushing your teeth or eating healthy-balanced meals. If you are not caring for yourself in the ways that you should, imagine the level of neglect that your children are experiencing at these times. When the choice is made to get help, realize that you are not simply helping yourself; you are helping your children as well.
You have already taken a huge step back into being responsible by seeking help and making plans for treatment. Now you must prepare your children for the next 30 days that they will spend without you. Thirty-day inpatient treatment facilities are great tools and platforms for change for those with SUDs. The isolation, structure, and time to reflect are all necessary to a healthy recovery journey and brand new life. However, being isolated means being removed from life as you know it.
These are things that will need to be explained to your children. They have likely felt ignored or abandoned due to your addiction, but you want them to know that this time it’s the opposite. You are taking time away so that you can soon be closer than you’ve ever been. Due to this, you will need to explain to prepare them. Honor the same unrealistic relationship to willpower you have toward your addiction, to beating it. You are going to have to do the hard stuff.
You must make arrangements if you have children who live with you to be in the care of someone else while you’re away. You also have to make space for an open conversation in which your children can express how they feel about your addiction and absence while in treatment. These may feel like complex moves to make. However, these actions will somewhat prepare you and your children for what is to come.
Pushing Past the Shame of Your Addiction
No parent wants their child to look at them negatively. The reality of parenting while in addiction is that your children may very well see negative things about you that they don’t feel they can address. You may feel guilt, but forgiveness is a process, and the nakedness of your truth is the first step.
When you thought you were hiding the signs of your addiction, your children still saw them whether or not they knew what those signs were pointing at. They were aware that something was different about you. They were also aware that this something was negative.
Offering a safe space to share with your children that you are not okay is okay. Having the understanding that you see your own issues and are going to get help leads them to see you in a more positive light. Don’t be embarrassed by what you can no longer hide. Show them that there is healing in transparency by being an example.
Accepting Your Child’s Reaction to Your Addiction
Depending on the age of your children, they may react in many ways. Older or adult children may have more understanding. This act of faith may be something that they have been wishing and hoping for for a long time. They may be excited or maybe even frustrated that it took so long. Your kids are entitled to their feelings, just as you are entitled to yours.
Younger children may be confused and sad because they don’t understand. Even if they were aware that you were acting differently, they might not want to leave the normalcy of their life. You have to allow their tears if they fall. This is just one of the many steps in this complex recovery process.
You should explain that you will physically be away, and they will be in the care of someone else while you are getting better. They need to know who will be caring for them, and you should ask if they feel comfortable in the care of that person. As you will be gone for 30 days, you want to ensure that your children feel safe with who they will be left with.
The Bigger Picture When Attending a Treatment Program
Although this may be the toughest decision of your life, it will be worth it. Remember to tell yourself and your kids this truth. Allow the stress, frustration, fear, uncertainties, anger, and any other feelings that arise from having this talk with your family to exist.
The conversation you have now is only preparation for the conversation you get to have when you return home. Being able to tell your children that you are now 30 days sober and into your new life will feel like a gift. Saying that you are now going to be the best parent that you can, and truly mean it, will be worth acknowledging that you hadn’t been.
Have the conversation. Be humble and honest. Be open to their reactions. Be brave because they will have to be brave too.
Are you considering treatment but have some reluctance about telling your children or being away from them? Do not let that stop you. There can be a lot of emotions surrounding going into treatment, and those emotions deserve to be addressed. It may not be a fun conversation to have, but it is a life-changing one. You will come out a better parent. Your children will appreciate your honesty and willingness to change. If you want help and are looking at treatment options, Villa Oasis can give you pointers on how to tell your kids. You are not alone, and we are here to help. Call us today at (323) 739-8673.