The Power of Sober Parenting

Sober parenting while walking on the beach
June 14, 2018
|   updated:
July 11, 2023

When it comes to parenting, who wouldn’t like to have a few super powers? How about X-ray vision so you could look through walls and see if your child is really doing homework? Telekinesis would be very helpful when it’s time to straighten up the house!

Here’s the good news: Parents may not have super powers, but they have more power than they think they do. And if you are a parent in recovery, you are far stronger than you were as a person struggling with alcoholism. You just have to learn how to nurture and use your power.

Combine Sober Parenting with Your Program

Perhaps you are getting parenting time that you weren’t getting before, or perhaps in recovery you are a more involved parent than you used to be. Suddenly you may face conflicts between spending time with your children and engaging in the healthy practices that have helped you stay sober. If you want to keep your recovery super-charged, you will have to follow your program.

If your practice includes going to daily meetings, you may have trouble fitting them into your parenting schedule. Some groups welcome children. If you can’t find one that does, try these alternatives:

Phone a buddy.

Call your sponsor or other person in your support system. Daily check-ins are helpful, but you shouldn’t hesitate to call any time that you feel vulnerable.

Listen to a podcast or watch a video.

If you can’t get to a meeting in person, YouTube has videotaped meetings and inspirational speakers. Listening to a motivational podcast can be helpful, too, and you can listen while you do chores or work out.

Hang out with a friend.

Invite a sober friend to do something, preferably something active. Take the kids to the park or to the pool. Go to a gym that has child care and get in a good workout.

Join an online group.

Virtual friends can offer real alcohol recovery support. They can be especially helpful for night hours when the kids are in bed and you really want a drink. An online chat group can fill that space and help you resist temptation. Make yourself a cup of tea and log on!

No Making Up for Lost Time

If you’ve missed out on time with your kids due to alcohol use, it’s tempting to try to make it up to them. The truth is that you cannot recapture that time, and you simply need to be the best parent you can be going forward. That doesn’t mean what some people think it means.

Parents are often exhorted to make the most of every moment with their kids, because they grow up so fast. In fact, that approach puts an undue burden on everyone. Especially when your kids are older, there will be times when they simply want to be left alone. You’ll also need to resist the temptation to turn every day into a party. Most kids won’t remember special occasions or high-priced outings as fondly as they will remember the simple times hanging out with Dad or Mom.

There will also be times when you would like a break away from your kids. Welcome to normal parenting! Every parent sometimes gets fed up with the hard work of taking care of kids. Also, your kids’ behavior can sometimes be challenging. Expecting to relish every second with them is simply unrealistic.

Managing Behavior

It’s also tempting to make up for your own lapses by letting your kids get by with more than they should. Simple indulgence does not make for good parenting. If you struggle with being both firm and loving with your kids, you might want to get some parenting help.

You also might need help if you are overly strict on your children. Perhaps you think that by enforcing discipline, you can keep them from making the mistakes that you made, but an authoritarian approach to parenting can backfire.

Sometimes those with Alcohol User Disorder weren’t the recipients of good parenting, so they are unsure what it looks like. Chances are that you have some good role models around you that you can watch and learn from. It’s also possible to learn parenting skills from books and other resources. Just stay away from an expert who has extremist views and look for resources that rely on research and evidence to back their opinions.

Enjoy Your Power

If you are newly sober and a parent, you have challenges ahead of you, but you also have much more parenting power than you did when you were struggling with alcohol.

  • You have the power to be fully present with your children – no brain fog, no mood swings.
  • You wake up in the morning capable of facing the day, even if you’re not really a morning person.
  • You spend your time and energy on your kids instead of wondering when you’ll be able to have a drink.
  • You can feel confident knowing that your children are safe in the car with you and in your care.

While you are learning the power of sober parenting, your co-parent or others may need reassurance that your recovery is real. That’s when remote alcohol monitoring can help.

You know, you really don’t need special powers. When you are a sober parent, you will be able to use your natural powers and gifts for the benefit of your children. And that’s pretty super.

About the Author

Susan Adcox is a former teacher and a writer who specializes in generational issues, including parenting, grandparenting and family relationships.

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