Every parent celebrates the moment when their child comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, they may not be prepared to address how things have changed. The child who has come home will be different from the one you said goodbye to several weeks ago. Now, you need to learn how to parent the new version of your child.
This change may seem nerve-wracking at first. Have faith because you can learn how to handle the situation. When parents know how to guide their children and partner up with them, they can repair family relationships.
How You React Affects How Your Child Acts
Remember when your child was little and came to you after skinning their knee playing? They needed you to do the obvious thing by tending to the wound. Before you could begin getting out medication and a bandage, your first responsibility came in the form of your reaction.
A child who runs to their mom or dad with a skinned knee or other problem feels frightened. They rely on their parents to remain calm and address the situation. Imagine if the parent saw the child’s knee and started screaming and panicking. The child would take on that reaction, feel worse, and freak out. A parent’s panicked reaction would compound the pain and fear they already felt.
The same philosophy applies to reacting to your child in recovery. When they come to you with a dilemma or feel frightened or unsure of themselves, they will gauge your immediate reaction. Your initial impulse may be to react by showing alarm, expressing anger at them, or threatening to discipline them.
If this happens, the child will likely retreat into their own world. They may feel less likely to go to their parents with future concerns and problems. Make sure you learn to get in the habit of reacting from a calm place.
A Key Question to Ask Your Child
Often when a child in recovery arrives home from treatment, they feel unsure how things will go in their homes from now on. They don’t know if their parents will be judgmental of them or react poorly when they struggle.
Your child may come to you and tell you about an urge to use drugs or alcohol. They may want to express a difficult emotion they are experiencing. They may need to explain that they are feeling overwhelmed by stress.
Rather than immediately react, pause to ask them a question: How do you need me to react? This question helps put your child in the driver’s seat and feel some control they may be sorely lacking. Now, they can process and consider what they need from you. Identifying the particular need and asking for it creates a partnership in healing between parent and child.
When initially asking the question of how your child needs you to react, lay out some suggestions. Ask which reaction sounds like the best fit for the situation from your child’s perspective. Try these ideas and add in your own that sound like a good option for your child:
- “Just listen to me and understand what my emotional status is. Do not try to solve anything for me.”
- “Recognize that I am feeling alarmed by something. Offer suggestions for seeing the situation with a calmer outlook.”
- “Help me make a pros and cons list about a situation. I would like to discuss ideas with you.”
- “Help me remember that I have made progress. I’m feeling down on myself and need reminders of how far I’ve come.”
- “Give me some space. I feel overwhelmed by my recovery or other responsibilities and need your permission to pull back a bit.”
Establish a Partnership With Your Child
You are the parent, which ultimately puts you in charge of what happens in your home. This role allowed you to decide to send your child to treatment. When your child comes home, you may want to rely on the feeling that you always have the upper hand. You may want to feel that you are in charge of your child’s recovery.
While this reaction has merit up to a point, it cannot be the only way to approach the situation. Your child has to take responsibility for much of their recovery from addiction. When they make their own healthy decisions, they demonstrate growth to themselves and their parents. They develop self-confidence when they realize how powerful they can be.
Establishing a partnership with your child can empower your child in recovery. Let them know when they come home that you see your role in the next phase of their recovery. Talk about how they can come to you with any questions or issues they have. Together, you can find solutions that keep them on the right path.
When your child first comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol, everyone may be nervous. Our tips for acting and reacting can help you remain calm and instill confidence in your child. Your child ultimately wants to feel you have their back, and they can be honest about any difficulties that crop up during recovery. Asking the right questions can help them feel supported. Sustain Recovery offers long-term treatment programs for adolescents and young adults. We believe that kids don’t have a drug problem; they have a drug solution. We help them identify what caused them to turn to addiction, including any mental health issues, and how to replace self-medicating with a healthy solution. We also provide any needed schooling to help them keep up with academics. Call our Southern California facility today at (949) 407-9052 and find out how we can teach your child to embrace recovery both here and at home.