Some moms may choose to bury the past and never look back — especially when addiction is in the rearview mirror— but is this the best course of action?
It is possible to establish an effective parenting plan that respects rather than ignores a history of addiction and gives children an opportunity to thrive beyond the shadow of the past?
Overcoming addiction is a process with no defined end. As a mother works through this process, she faces unique parenting challenges. "Mothers with a history of addiction may find it hard to act as role models for their adolescent children," says Tatiana Sporea, substance abuse and family program counselor at Gateway Foundation Chicago West. "Women with younger kids can be emotionally unavailable for their children when they are dealing with mental health issues, trauma, grief or abuse." Still, the responsibilities of parenting do not ease just because of a burden we may carry.
Plenty of moms must decide how to handle their addiction and their parenting responsibilities simultaneously — a task that is not often easy. While sometimes tempting, trying to bury the past is not usually an effective course of action. "Being truthful about her addiction and letting her kids know addiction is a disease is an appropriate way for a mother to address the issue," says Sporea. "Validating children’s emotions is another tool that mothers could use when addressing their past drug use or family addiction patterns." It’s important to create an environment in which a child feels safe to talk about his concerns without shame — even if one of those concerns is his mother’s addiction.
With so many variables in life, and in parenting, it’s helpful to have some sort of parenting plan especially when addiction is in play. Sporea offers the following suggestions for moms wanting to establish a parenting plan while still respecting the addiction struggles she has endured:
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