Recovery Issues for the Single Parent

Reviewed Mar 28, 2016

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Summary

  • Ask for help.
  • Focus on your kids.
  • Seek mentors.
  • Carve out time for yourself.

Single parenting is tough. Single parenting while recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can be overwhelming.

Going it alone as a single parent means that you routinely face emotional stress, fatigue, loneliness, boredom, and, sometimes, depression. In addition, many single parents carry excess emotional baggage from things such as a messy divorce, untimely death of a spouse, debilitating guilt, or unhealthy past relationships. Finding the time and energy to focus on personal recovery is very difficult but essential.

More than ¼ of American children live with one parent, and the majority of these children live with their mothers, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Growing up in a single-parent home is a risk factor for substance use disorder and other mental health disorders. That’s why it is especially important for single parents to become actively engaged in their own recovery, so they can be actively engaged in the lives of their children.

Perseverance is key

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as “persisting in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” That pretty much sums up the challenge facing single parents in early recovery. What are the “counterinfluences and opposition” single parents must address? Here is a partial list:

  • Providing emotional and physical security for children
  • Ea living
  • Providing/preparing meals
  • Helping with homework
  • Talking with teachers
  • Cleaning the house
  • Paying the bills
  • Handling the insurance, banking, taxes, shopping, etc.
  • Car and home maintenance, repairs, etc.
  • Taking kids to practice and extracurricular activities

How do single parents find time and energy to care for their children, meet their social and emotional needs, develop healthy relationships, and fully embrace their own recovery? The truth is that recovery from addictive disease, like most chronic illnesses, is hard, especially in the first year. Here are some suggestions to help you care for your child while enduring this difficult time:

  • Ask for help. Getting to 12-step meetings is essential, yet this is where many single parents compromise. They look at their schedule and their responsibilities and the first thing they cut back is their meetings. This may solve an immediate scheduling crisis but it is also the fast track back to drugs and alcohol.

You can’t do this alone—so find people to help you. Let your trusted friends and family members know your needs and ask them for specific help. Carpooling and ride sharing to school and extracurricular activities will save you valuable hours (and gas) each week. Help with child care is trickier because you can’t have just anyone watching your kids. If you don’t have family to pitch in, ask around. Talk with neighbors and co-workers and see if they have ideas or know someone trustworthy. You don’t have to solve every problem yourself. Seek the wisdom of others.

  • Focus on your kids. They are the most important responsibility you have. The best way to have a close family and rebuild trust is to spend quality time together. Don’t be like most hurried, stressed-out families and try to squeeze in family time after everything else is done. Your kids need you now. Planning is your best weapon for battling overstressed lives. Get out the calendar and plan some time together. Going to movies, going to dinner or ice cream, or taking weekend getaways will speak volumes to your children about your priorities. Remember, things that get scheduled get done.
  • Seek mentors:
    • Get a recovery sponsor to mentor you through your recovery. You find a sponsor by going to recovery meetings and meeting people.
    • Create a small inner circle of supportive friends and family members who care about you and know your life well enough to ask tough questions, be there when you need them, and hold you accountable for your recovery and your responsibilities. This group could also include your pastor and friends from your church, synagogue, or other place of worship.
    • Seek mentors for your kids. If you are a single dad with a daughter about to enter puberty you are going to need some female advice and help. Kids need same-sex mentors to guide them and model appropriate behavior. Extended family members, trusted friends, youth pastors, or Big Brothers or Big Sisters volunteers may be ideal.
  • Shake off the guilt. Early recovery can be wrought with guilt and a lot of second-guessing. Recovering single parents frequently fight the feeling that their addiction, bad choices, divorce, etc. have ruined their kids for life. Sure, you made mistakes, but recovery means letting go of past mistakes and forgiving yourself. Talking with your sponsor, pastor, or a close friend is a good place to start. If feelings of guilt, shame, or depression persist, talk with a mental health professional, preferably one who is trained in addictions.
  • Carve out time for yourself. This is very difficult for single parents who already feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. Everyone needs to be regularly refreshed and recharged. What works for you is different than what works for others. Find what refreshes you—reading, exercising, walking on the beach, visiting a friend, going to a movie or spiritual retreat. Plan and commit to time for yourself, because there will always be conflicts that compete for your time. Do it anyway. You will not be good for your kids if you are always stressed.

Early recovery seems like a paradox to single parents. On one hand, you can’t be a good parent and provider if you don’t spend more time with your kids and work hard to provide for them. On the other hand, you can’t stay in recovery if you don’t make it a priority by going to meetings and taking better care of yourself. The answer: Take it one day at a time.

By Drew Edwards, EdD

Summary

  • Ask for help.
  • Focus on your kids.
  • Seek mentors.
  • Carve out time for yourself.

Single parenting is tough. Single parenting while recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can be overwhelming.

Going it alone as a single parent means that you routinely face emotional stress, fatigue, loneliness, boredom, and, sometimes, depression. In addition, many single parents carry excess emotional baggage from things such as a messy divorce, untimely death of a spouse, debilitating guilt, or unhealthy past relationships. Finding the time and energy to focus on personal recovery is very difficult but essential.

More than ¼ of American children live with one parent, and the majority of these children live with their mothers, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Growing up in a single-parent home is a risk factor for substance use disorder and other mental health disorders. That’s why it is especially important for single parents to become actively engaged in their own recovery, so they can be actively engaged in the lives of their children.

Perseverance is key

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as “persisting in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” That pretty much sums up the challenge facing single parents in early recovery. What are the “counterinfluences and opposition” single parents must address? Here is a partial list:

  • Providing emotional and physical security for children
  • Ea living
  • Providing/preparing meals
  • Helping with homework
  • Talking with teachers
  • Cleaning the house
  • Paying the bills
  • Handling the insurance, banking, taxes, shopping, etc.
  • Car and home maintenance, repairs, etc.
  • Taking kids to practice and extracurricular activities

How do single parents find time and energy to care for their children, meet their social and emotional needs, develop healthy relationships, and fully embrace their own recovery? The truth is that recovery from addictive disease, like most chronic illnesses, is hard, especially in the first year. Here are some suggestions to help you care for your child while enduring this difficult time:

  • Ask for help. Getting to 12-step meetings is essential, yet this is where many single parents compromise. They look at their schedule and their responsibilities and the first thing they cut back is their meetings. This may solve an immediate scheduling crisis but it is also the fast track back to drugs and alcohol.

You can’t do this alone—so find people to help you. Let your trusted friends and family members know your needs and ask them for specific help. Carpooling and ride sharing to school and extracurricular activities will save you valuable hours (and gas) each week. Help with child care is trickier because you can’t have just anyone watching your kids. If you don’t have family to pitch in, ask around. Talk with neighbors and co-workers and see if they have ideas or know someone trustworthy. You don’t have to solve every problem yourself. Seek the wisdom of others.

  • Focus on your kids. They are the most important responsibility you have. The best way to have a close family and rebuild trust is to spend quality time together. Don’t be like most hurried, stressed-out families and try to squeeze in family time after everything else is done. Your kids need you now. Planning is your best weapon for battling overstressed lives. Get out the calendar and plan some time together. Going to movies, going to dinner or ice cream, or taking weekend getaways will speak volumes to your children about your priorities. Remember, things that get scheduled get done.
  • Seek mentors:
    • Get a recovery sponsor to mentor you through your recovery. You find a sponsor by going to recovery meetings and meeting people.
    • Create a small inner circle of supportive friends and family members who care about you and know your life well enough to ask tough questions, be there when you need them, and hold you accountable for your recovery and your responsibilities. This group could also include your pastor and friends from your church, synagogue, or other place of worship.
    • Seek mentors for your kids. If you are a single dad with a daughter about to enter puberty you are going to need some female advice and help. Kids need same-sex mentors to guide them and model appropriate behavior. Extended family members, trusted friends, youth pastors, or Big Brothers or Big Sisters volunteers may be ideal.
  • Shake off the guilt. Early recovery can be wrought with guilt and a lot of second-guessing. Recovering single parents frequently fight the feeling that their addiction, bad choices, divorce, etc. have ruined their kids for life. Sure, you made mistakes, but recovery means letting go of past mistakes and forgiving yourself. Talking with your sponsor, pastor, or a close friend is a good place to start. If feelings of guilt, shame, or depression persist, talk with a mental health professional, preferably one who is trained in addictions.
  • Carve out time for yourself. This is very difficult for single parents who already feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. Everyone needs to be regularly refreshed and recharged. What works for you is different than what works for others. Find what refreshes you—reading, exercising, walking on the beach, visiting a friend, going to a movie or spiritual retreat. Plan and commit to time for yourself, because there will always be conflicts that compete for your time. Do it anyway. You will not be good for your kids if you are always stressed.

Early recovery seems like a paradox to single parents. On one hand, you can’t be a good parent and provider if you don’t spend more time with your kids and work hard to provide for them. On the other hand, you can’t stay in recovery if you don’t make it a priority by going to meetings and taking better care of yourself. The answer: Take it one day at a time.

By Drew Edwards, EdD

Summary

  • Ask for help.
  • Focus on your kids.
  • Seek mentors.
  • Carve out time for yourself.

Single parenting is tough. Single parenting while recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can be overwhelming.

Going it alone as a single parent means that you routinely face emotional stress, fatigue, loneliness, boredom, and, sometimes, depression. In addition, many single parents carry excess emotional baggage from things such as a messy divorce, untimely death of a spouse, debilitating guilt, or unhealthy past relationships. Finding the time and energy to focus on personal recovery is very difficult but essential.

More than ¼ of American children live with one parent, and the majority of these children live with their mothers, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Growing up in a single-parent home is a risk factor for substance use disorder and other mental health disorders. That’s why it is especially important for single parents to become actively engaged in their own recovery, so they can be actively engaged in the lives of their children.

Perseverance is key

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as “persisting in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” That pretty much sums up the challenge facing single parents in early recovery. What are the “counterinfluences and opposition” single parents must address? Here is a partial list:

  • Providing emotional and physical security for children
  • Ea living
  • Providing/preparing meals
  • Helping with homework
  • Talking with teachers
  • Cleaning the house
  • Paying the bills
  • Handling the insurance, banking, taxes, shopping, etc.
  • Car and home maintenance, repairs, etc.
  • Taking kids to practice and extracurricular activities

How do single parents find time and energy to care for their children, meet their social and emotional needs, develop healthy relationships, and fully embrace their own recovery? The truth is that recovery from addictive disease, like most chronic illnesses, is hard, especially in the first year. Here are some suggestions to help you care for your child while enduring this difficult time:

  • Ask for help. Getting to 12-step meetings is essential, yet this is where many single parents compromise. They look at their schedule and their responsibilities and the first thing they cut back is their meetings. This may solve an immediate scheduling crisis but it is also the fast track back to drugs and alcohol.

You can’t do this alone—so find people to help you. Let your trusted friends and family members know your needs and ask them for specific help. Carpooling and ride sharing to school and extracurricular activities will save you valuable hours (and gas) each week. Help with child care is trickier because you can’t have just anyone watching your kids. If you don’t have family to pitch in, ask around. Talk with neighbors and co-workers and see if they have ideas or know someone trustworthy. You don’t have to solve every problem yourself. Seek the wisdom of others.

  • Focus on your kids. They are the most important responsibility you have. The best way to have a close family and rebuild trust is to spend quality time together. Don’t be like most hurried, stressed-out families and try to squeeze in family time after everything else is done. Your kids need you now. Planning is your best weapon for battling overstressed lives. Get out the calendar and plan some time together. Going to movies, going to dinner or ice cream, or taking weekend getaways will speak volumes to your children about your priorities. Remember, things that get scheduled get done.
  • Seek mentors:
    • Get a recovery sponsor to mentor you through your recovery. You find a sponsor by going to recovery meetings and meeting people.
    • Create a small inner circle of supportive friends and family members who care about you and know your life well enough to ask tough questions, be there when you need them, and hold you accountable for your recovery and your responsibilities. This group could also include your pastor and friends from your church, synagogue, or other place of worship.
    • Seek mentors for your kids. If you are a single dad with a daughter about to enter puberty you are going to need some female advice and help. Kids need same-sex mentors to guide them and model appropriate behavior. Extended family members, trusted friends, youth pastors, or Big Brothers or Big Sisters volunteers may be ideal.
  • Shake off the guilt. Early recovery can be wrought with guilt and a lot of second-guessing. Recovering single parents frequently fight the feeling that their addiction, bad choices, divorce, etc. have ruined their kids for life. Sure, you made mistakes, but recovery means letting go of past mistakes and forgiving yourself. Talking with your sponsor, pastor, or a close friend is a good place to start. If feelings of guilt, shame, or depression persist, talk with a mental health professional, preferably one who is trained in addictions.
  • Carve out time for yourself. This is very difficult for single parents who already feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. Everyone needs to be regularly refreshed and recharged. What works for you is different than what works for others. Find what refreshes you—reading, exercising, walking on the beach, visiting a friend, going to a movie or spiritual retreat. Plan and commit to time for yourself, because there will always be conflicts that compete for your time. Do it anyway. You will not be good for your kids if you are always stressed.

Early recovery seems like a paradox to single parents. On one hand, you can’t be a good parent and provider if you don’t spend more time with your kids and work hard to provide for them. On the other hand, you can’t stay in recovery if you don’t make it a priority by going to meetings and taking better care of yourself. The answer: Take it one day at a time.

By Drew Edwards, EdD

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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