Talking to Children about the Recovery Process

Talking to children about the recovery process rests on two key factors. Your child’s age and their ability to identifying their feelings. Both must be considered before you attempt to engage in conversation.

Why you should talk to your children about recovery?

Your addiction hurt your children. The pain of this experience may be difficult for them to articulate. However, rest assured, whether they can verbalize their feelings or not, they have suffered in many ways and on many levels. Just as they became involved in your addiction, they benefit from being involved in your recovery. They need to be a part of your attempts to improve your life and overcome your addiction. Do not fall prey to the belief the subject is too complicated for them to grasp. The right material proves invaluable.

When “ the talk” is appropriate

When you consider talking to your children about your recovery, consult your sponsor or someone you know and trust. A person somewhat removed from the situation and a person who can have an objective look at the circumstances. A level headed and clear perspective is extremely useful. Often others can observe the family dynamic and help you evaluate when the time is right to have “the talk”. Do not approach your children if you still struggle with your own feelings of guilt or failure. Go over your approach in order to feel centered.  If you become overly emotional, children are unduly burdened. Nothing good comes from breaking down in front of them. Expecting immediate forgiveness or creating a situation in which they console you is counter-productive.

What you can do

Look for age appropriate material to explain the nature of your illness in a frank and open manner. Equally important, find material to open communication about your recovery. When you share about the steps you use in your recovery your child’s confusion and uncertainty are alleviated. The connection you create with your children hinges on your ability to do several things.

*Be intellectually and emotionally honest

*Acknowledge your mistakes

*Sincerely apologize

*Express your desire to be more involved in their lives

*Allow them the gift of self expression and unconditional love