Being a parent can be filled with joyous, rewarding experiences and memories, but it can also be filled with many challenges. Parenting is a lifetime of responsibilities, decision-making, and uncertainty that can leave parents feeling drained. These feelings become even more exemplified when parenting a child struggling with addiction. Addiction is a serious issue that impacts the entire family, not just the individual involved. Watching your child struggle with addiction can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Therefore, prioritizing self-care is critical in maintaining your physical and mental health while supporting your child.
Supporting a child through their addiction is overwhelming for a parent to process. Seeking support as you navigate this difficult time will help you manage your emotions and stress. Consider reaching out to friends and family to share what you are experiencing so they can help you as needed. Join a support group for parents of children with addiction to receive guidance and connect with other parents who are going through similar struggles. Support groups can be found in your area by searching online or asking the adolescent treatment center that is supporting your child through their recovery.
When helping your child struggling with addiction, it can be easy to become overwhelmed or have negative thoughts. Practicing mindfulness can be a helpful self-care strategy to stay present and calm in your stressful moments. A simple way to start practicing mindfulness is to focus on your breathing. Sit quietly at the moment and focus on inhaling and exhaling. When your mind wanders, come back to concentrate on your breathing. This will give you opportunities to practice self-compassion and relaxation. It might feel uncomfortable to try, but be gentle with yourself.
A key component in self-care is ensuring you get enough sleep. While it is natural to feel worried and anxious when supporting a child with addiction, which can lead to lying awake with a racing mind, prioritize your rest. Create a bedtime routine for yourself that tells your brain it is time to relax and turn off for the night. For example, consider drinking chamomile tea or reading a book when you get into bed to help your mind and body prepare to rest. If those don’t work, consider trying a weighted blanket or white noise machine to help reduce the anxieties that keep you awake.
Another great self-care strategy for parents supporting a child with addiction is getting outdoors. Spending time outside is a great way to reduce stress. Research shows that exposure to nature can lower cortisol levels and improve mood. Sitting in the sun or going for a walk in the park can help you unwind from the difficult situation you are managing and focus more on the nature around you. Spending time outdoors is also a great way to connect with others. Grab a friend or family member to go with you for a hike to share the experience while also talking with them about what you feel comfortable sharing.
Enjoy Your Hobbies
Putting others’ needs first is natural as a parent, and caring for a child struggling with addiction can be a full-time job. Making time to enjoy your hobbies is an important self-care practice to keep your fulfillment and balance in your life. Enjoying your hobbies is a simple, intentional way to relax and recharge from the stressors of daily life. Having a hobby you regularly prioritize will also set a positive example for your child about prioritizing healthy coping strategies and pursuing their passions. Need help figuring out where to start? Some easy-to-start hobbies are reading, joining a walking group, learning a new language, and playing pickleball.
When parenting a child struggling with addiction, it can be challenging to support them while continuing to take care of yourself. Setting boundaries is an important part of self-care and can help you maintain a healthy relationship with your child while supporting them in their recovery process. Be clear and consistent with your boundaries, even when it gets tricky. For example, you could set a boundary with your child that you refuse to give them money, even if it is for a legitimate expense, but instead can accompany them to purchase what they need. Setting boundaries does not mean cutting your child out or ignoring their addiction, but instead maintaining a healthy relationship with them while protecting your mental well-being.