May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.
One in three children in foster care are there due to parental Addiction. Foster care and substance abuse are intimately linked and can cause long-term problems for afflicted families. Today we’re talking about starting to heal the trauma that addiction can cause in a family with children, and how to re-build.
First things first, opening the paths of communication is key.
How far the conversation goes depends on the age of the children but be sure to apologize for anything they may have experienced directly (i.e. an outburst) or indirectly (your absence, etc.). This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list but anything that stands out can be noted. Tell them they are you here for them now and are doing your best to recover from your problem. You children may not have much to say but if they do, put your listening hat on. Hear them out, validate their feelings, tell them that you love them. All strong relationships are built on communication and child-parent relationships are no different.
Once you’ve cleared the air it’s important to establish a “new normal.”
This is where you will be speaking with actions rather than words, showing up and being there for them. Create routines, spend time with them, and maybe even start a new tradition like Spaghetti Night or a Sunday morning bike ride. Even something as small as watching their favorite movie with them can mean the world. For most kids, your presence is enough.
The truth is, this process can take time.
Even if you are feeling miles ahead in terms of recovery and rebuilding, they might not be. Or if you are having hard days, be kind to yourself. The recovery process is different for everyone and having the family rebuild process in the mix is additionally challenging. Just remember why you’re doing this, your children need your sobriety as much as you do. They need their parent. You don’t have to be perfect, just keep showing up for them.
Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.