Parallel Parenting Two Children in Recovery

As a parent, we all dream of the road of least resistance and highest accomplishment for our children.  Imagining that they will attain all the goals and happiness that WE envision for them.  However, when addictions and trauma creep in, that road becomes far more winding and much less certain than our dreams laid out for us when they first entered our worlds with so much hope and promise.  Trying to love and control them into wanting our dream as their life path during addiction often allows us as parents to delve deep into the reality that things are not going to go according to our script.  Letting go becomes our new life goal as a parent and allowing the addict to want life to stabilize becomes our new dream for the future.

As difficult as recovery is to journey through, how does one cope with the fact that they may be experiencing more than one child, simultaneously, in recovery?  How does one cope with that feeling of déjà vu as fear and helplessness hit AGAIN?  My experience was just that, as I was dealing with letting my son hit bottom and realizing my daughter was in serious need of intervention herself.  I remember the anger of “I do not want to be here” as I was in the same hospital having evaluations done, at the same facilities taking her to counselors, seeking treatment to help circumvent things from becoming worse, and resisting Al Anon because it just was more focus on the dysfunction that I was living in – or so I inaccurately thought.

Fortunately for me, I was shown very quickly that the walls and path of seeking out treatment facilities and care may look the same but the child and the issues were distinctly different.  I learned that appreciating the differences in the child and the problem would allow me to pull myself together and be helpful by focusing on the child more than the issue as it affected me. As I began to guide them separately, I found that being in the situation again was not as difficult when I stepped out of the emotion and self-centeredness of my needs and utilized Al Anon.  I had the advantage in round two that I knew the steps of how to put that next foot forward, how to set the boundaries, how to accept it is what it is, when to take time for myself and what a blessing my faith and friendships with parents of other struggling children were.  Unlike my first journey into dealing with a child in need of recovery, I knew I was not alone.

Fast forward two years, and how I look at the life of my children is profoundly different. They are not a reflection of my parenting.  My feelings of self-worth are not led by their accomplishments or failures.  I am able to let them live their lives as they find their own peace. They are a reflection of my joy!  I am witnessing my son’s owning of his recovery in all the ways I imagined he could. He loves life and daily reaps the rewards of working the steps of recovery and fellowship as a New Life House graduate. My daughter is on a different journey as she seeks the same happiness and stability.  She has guidance and support and patience offered that would not have been there without the wisdom of my experiencing my son’s journey.  I utilize Al Anon religiously, as it is mandatory to weather the responsibility of taking care of myself and being the mother I need to be to my recovering children.  And I am no longer trying to be the counselor, friend, disciplinarian, etc. I thought I had to be to make up for the experience they both had to face with a sibling in recovery.  I am of most use to my children in recovery when I simply love them.  And the questions of why or how this could have happened in my family to more than one child become irrelevant. What is relevant is that we are guided to recovery and the future is unfolding into one, that as I loop back to those desires of what or who my children could and would become, I realize we are right where we need to be!!

-Michelle G., New Life House alumni mother

Last Updated on May 24, 2022


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