When the Realities of Addiction Make You a Better Parent

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Addiction. A familiar word in most homes in America. Someone you know has likely suffered from an addiction, as it’s become a widespread epidemic throughout our nation. But this word and my experiences with it have changed my perspective on parenting entirely. Let me explain.  

I grew up with parents who were both alcoholics. I lost my mother to lung cancer at the age of 13 (she was also a smoker) and was left in the care of my father and stepmother, both heavy drinkers. Until I moved out at the age of 17, my idea of parenting was pretty minimal and simple, and really just involved the notion that you needed to keep kids surviving. It wasn’t until I met my husband and his wonderful family that I actually got a major reality check in what parenting really was, looked like, and could be.  This helped me realize how badly I desired to be an outstanding parent, and this was long before we had children of our own.

addiction

Looking back I really do know that although my childhood was no walk in the park, and it was filled with a lot of dark days that were consumed by alcoholism, that it all happened for a reason.  A reason I now understand; that reason is that it taught me how to be a far better parent than the two I grew up with. 

So, I am sharing 5 new perspectives you can use in terms of how to be a better parent if you too have experiences with addiction. 

Let Fear Lead You: Fear was a big component that helped change my mindset when it came to being a better parent. I was, and still am, terrified of becoming my parents. I don’t want ever have an addiction that consumes my life more than my family, but in reality, no one ever plans that.  So, fear in this situation is a good thing. Be aware of your decisions and avoid behaviors and actions that become so habitual you can’t change them.

Set personal boundaries: Knowing addiction runs so deep in my veins, I decided to find something healthy to do to wind down and relax after a long day, which is one of the primary reasons and ways people turn to alcohol. For me it’s a bath. If I’m sick, tired, or overwhelmed, a good soak in some suds does the trick. Never have I, or will I, turn to alcohol as a way to relieve stress.

Be an alert parent. Be aware of those that struggle with addiction. Your main goal as a parent is to protect your children. For me, I know of a few people close to our family who suffer and struggle with addiction, and I am aware of their challenges.  While I continue to love and support them as much as I can, I also keep our relationship pretty simple and distant. I won’t leave my kids in their care, allow them to drive my kids places, and I am always sure I’m present if my kids are around them. It may sound “overboard” to some, but addiction is no joke. It can cause people to do harmful things intentionally or unintentionally, and it’s my job to ensure my kids aren’t bearing witness (accidental or not), to any of that.

Get on the same page with your spouse.  This is a big one. My husband and I grew up on such polar opposite ends of the spectrum, that this is a really a necessity. My husband’s parents don’t drink, whereas I come from a long bloodline of addiction. We had dialogues about drinking in front of our kids, having alcohol in our home, when and if we will drink, etc. It was important for my husband to know where I was coming from and to respect my concerns and hesitations based on my experiences, which luckily, were all so well received.

Find your tribe. Love them hard. You know, as you can clearly tell based on my upbringing, that my husband and I aren’t big drinkers and we have surrounded ourselves with friends who aren’t either. Date nights and girl’s nights typically call for an adult beverage, since they rarely happen, but most get togethers with our people and group of friends have zero alcohol involved. Most of close friends are aware of my family history and respect and love me so much. I strongly encourage you to work to find a good set of friends who understand your concerns and respect them. It makes a world of a difference. 

I hope these tips help you protect your family and keep everyone safe, or at least help you be more vigilant and aware of addiction. It is around all the time, and might be closer than you think. 

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Ashley is an Arizona native and is married to her stud husband Brandon. Together they have two crazy adorable kids; Ellie and Eli. When Ashley is not chasing and cuddling her kids, or hiking mountains with her husband, she focuses on her career as a Mortgage Advisor for Pinnacle Capital Mortgage. Ashley has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing- helping a variety of businesses with graphic design, online marketing, advertising, and blogging. She is now assisting Real Estate agents with their marketing needs to help build a relationship with them and grow her mortgage business. Ashley’s favorite way to relax is with a glass of wine, a good book, and a bubble bath. She enjoys family walks with her 2 Rottweiler’s, watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette, and really good Mexican food. If you are interested in learning about real estate, lending, and financial tips, be sure to follow her business blog.

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