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As parents, it can be scary and overwhelming when supporting your child through their addiction recovery. It is normal to have disagreements with your partner about what the best course of action should be when addressing your child’s addiction.
It is important to remember that every decision should have the best interest of your child placed first and foremost, which requires a strong support system from their caretakers.
· Do not blame the other parent
It is easy to question your own parenting skills or even your partner's. There will be many questions such as “Is this my fault?”, “Was I too lenient?”, “Was I too strict?” or even questioning your spouse’s parenting if there has been conflict over parenting in the past. Do not place blame on your partner as that will create a sense of disconnection or conflict and your child needs a reliable foundation during this vulnerable time.
· Actively work on your relationship with your partner
It is true that your relationship with your partner can negatively or positively affect your children’s social development and growth. Ideally, parents should be actively working on their own relationship so that there are no added stressors in the household. Your child should feel safe and it is beneficial to have a united front with your partner. There will be times of conflict and conflict should not be avoided, but rather approached in a healthy manner.
· No secrets between each other
Always try to stay on the same page with your partner. If not the same page, then at least within the same chapter! This includes not keeping secrets from each other. You should not adjust a treatment plan or give your child direction that was not previously agreed upon. Generally, secrecy among parents/care givers or silos of different information shared with different people is confusing and can hinder the plan. This is important to create a stable foundation for your child. The plan can certainly be amended with consultation with the treatment team.
· Practice drug/alcohol abstinence
To stand in solidarity with your child, you could choose to have a drug and/or alcohol-free household which would includes other household members remaining abstinent. Your child is in a vulnerable state and is susceptible to relapsing when their home sanctuary is filled with temptation. They can feel supported if their parents decide to remain abstinent with them which can create a stronger family dynamic.
· Respond with empathy during conflict
Remember, your spouse is as confused and worried as you. It is common to want to make different decisions when deciding on treatment plans and parenting pertaining to your child and their addictions. If there is confusion about treatment plans, remember to use the internet cautiously as there are disreputable sites that pay for advertising in order to be first on your search results. Check with your child’s clinician regarding resources before making decisions. Try to understand your partner’s key points in their suggestions and be willing to make compromises. As mentioned above, it is about what is best for your child, not what is most convenient for you and your partner.
· Create boundaries with your child’s treatment team
It is common to have many questions for your child’s treatment team. It is even more common to have a difference of opinion with professionals about your child’s treatment. However, you must remember to learn how to manage your own anxiety about this experience. It’s okay to ask questions of the treatment team. Seeking your own tools and resources is essential. Doing your own "work", by joining a parent support group and seeking your own counselling are other ways you can support yourself. By doing this you are turn supporting your child's recovery while respecting the bounds of their therapeutic process.
By, Susan B. Raphael & Krystal Dujon-Riboul