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Sober Parenting: 5 Ways to Rebuild the Trust of Your Children

At no fault of their own, children suffer from the “family disease” of addiction. They will often find themselves, innocently, in the cross hairs of the chaos that addiction can cause, and as we continue in our recovery, we must also begin to mend these broken relationships.

Righting Your Wrongs

Rebuilding trust with your children will take time, but these five important tips may assist in repairing those family bonds.

    • Focus on Your Children: To begin the healing process, spending quality time with your kids is essential. Although life can be hectic, busy and stressful, consider this. Your addiction was incredibly time-consuming. Time you’ll never get back. Plan a family getaway. See a movie. Schedule activities and be diligent with your responsibilities as a parent – show your children that they — and not your addiction — are priorities.


  • Curb Your Expectations: You cannot force trust. In some cases, your children may still love you, even forgive you, but not want you in their life. You cannot presume the relationship will be completely healed or expect a certain timeline for this healing. To remain in healthy recover, you must seek forgiveness without being emotionally dependent on the relationship. Although it may be difficult, remember, regaining trust, in all things, usually takes time and diligence.
  • Appreciate Their Perception: Regardless of your child’s age, you must always appreciate their perception. Most kids are very perceptive and also very vulnerable to changes within the household. Never assume your addiction did not, or does not presently, affect your kids. Your children may recognize that you’re working hard at sobriety, but this does not negate your children’s pain or ongoing confusion. Understand that their perception of your addiction is very valid and real.
  • Ask for Forgiveness, the Right Way: Although the importance of seeking forgiveness is somewhat self-evident, it’s important to do so in a meaningful, genuine way. During active addiction, we tend to apologize a lot, but without changing our behavior. After a while, our apologies become hallow. When asking forgiveness from your children, give age-appropriate context to “why” you are asking forgiveness. Also, genuinely ask for forgiveness because it’s important to you, not with the expectations that your children will forgive you.
  • Prioritize Your Sobriety: Although asking for forgiveness, empathizing, curbing expectations and focusing on parenting are important considerations; you cannot repair your relationships without prioritizing your sobriety. Without sobriety, healing relationships is an act of futility. Remember, to heal other parts of your life, you must first dedicate yourself to the healing process of recovery.


Additional Reading: Is Long-Term Management the Key to Lasting Sobriety?

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