How Parents in Addiction Recovery Can Re-Establish Bonds With Their Children

parenting an addicted childParents battling addiction may lack the ability to provide structure and support for their children. This can be an incredibly stressful time, as children often do not understand why or how their parent became addicted to substances and often blame themselves. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACA) notes that children face a number of stressors when parental addiction is involved, such as conflict within the home, increased isolation and decreased family cohesion. If you are a parent who has been working diligently in recovery and have reached a place where you want to reconnect with your child, you must realize that it will take time.

A study conducted at Western Sydney University in Australia emphasized the importance of empathy and emotion regulation when it comes to re-connecting with one’s child. There are three main aspects to this:

  • Cognitive empathy – being able to understand what your child may be going through and perceiving what his or her feelings may be
  • Emotional reactivity – the ability to respond emotionally to your child’s pain
  • Social skills – being able to gauge the effect of your behavior on your child and on others

Many 12-Step programs endorse this, but it’s important to admit to your child the pain you’ve caused them and explain that it wasn’t their fault. It will take time to rebuild trust, but acknowledging how you’ve affected them is a great place to start. As you work towards strengthening this relationship, maintain open communication and remind yourself to see things through your child’s point of view. They’re hurt and they may be very upset and unsure if they can trust you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t repair your relationship with them, it just means that you’ll have to prove to them – with your words and actions – that you are on the path of recovery and will be staying there.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?

Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.

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