Self-Care to Children While You are in Recovery

When you first enter recovery, you will start to feel a lot of different emotions that you may have never felt before. The substances you have been abusing have been able to mask those emotions and feelings for you, so when they all come to the surface, it may be overwhelming. This is especially true if you are a parent to children while you are in recovery. Feelings of guilt, shame, selfishness and more will bubble to the surface. How can you work on this relationship? How can you give self-care to children while in recovery? It is possible, and while it may seem hard at first, the reward will be huge.

The Impact on Children

According to the National Insitute on Drug Abuse, 25% of children live in a household where at least one parent has a substance abuse disorder. This means that 25% of children are at risk to have a substance abuse issue themselves and continue the cycle. Children are very cognisant of what is going on around them, no matter how small or young they may seem.

Unhealthy Learned Behavior

One of the major issues that happen with the children of people who are suffering from addiction is that they pick up their parents’ unhealthy learned behaviors. They see their parents turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with a stressful day, and growing up around this behavior makes children think that it is normal.

While you are getting help for this to break this cycle, it takes a lot of self-care to children while you are in recovery to help them reverse what they may have already picked up. The only way you can do this is by staying consistent and keeping your promises with them.

Behavioral Issues

Children of people who are suffering from addiction are also much more likely to develop serious behavioral issues. This is because stress can be overwhelming for anyone, but for children, it can impact the actual development of their brain. This can lead to different issues such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Poor grades in school
  • Anger issues
  • Violent outbursts
  • Feelings of abandonment

What to Tell Your Children

Depending on how young your children are, it is important to choose your words wisely when talking about your addiction with them. While it is important to tell children the truth, they don’t need every single detail. It is a very adult subject, and it might be too much for their brain to comprehend. However, chances are, you children have realized a lot more than you may think about your addiction.

It is an Illness

Make sure you stress to your children that your addiction is an illness. Tell them that you are going away to get better, and to not minimize your addiction. This is an opportunity for you to build trust and respect with them, so don’t act like everything is okay. They know more than you think, so coming clean with the fact that things have not been right up until this point will make them feel validated and heard.


One of the most important things you can do is to apologize to your children. You can apologize for not always being there when they needed you, for missing their sports games or parent-teacher conferences, or for not spending enough quality time with them. Children can be very forgiving, so make sure you say you’re sorry and follow it up with consistent actions and promises that you are able to keep.

What to Do While in Recovery

When you are in recovery, it is important to keep your children feeling loved and not as you have abandoned them. It can be easy to get “sucked into” treatment and forget the world outside – that is part of the beauty of going away for treatment. However, it is important to make time for your kids, even if you are far away. Make sure you do the following:

  • Call them as often as possible
  • Make them part of your treatment by having them join you for therapy sessions
  • Let them visit you to see where you are and how you’re living
  • Enroll your children into a family program so they can receive therapy during this time
  • If you’re receiving care out of town, write them letters in the mail for a fun surprise

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Navigating parenthood while in recovery can be difficult, but the most important thing you can do for your children is to show them self-care. If you’re taking care of yourself, apologizing for your misgivings and giving them the time and attention that they need from you, then you will be able to build a much better foundation with them.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit