When a child returns home after treatment, we might expect all of the issues within the home to disappear. We might have felt like our child with an addiction, mental health disorder, or other problematic behaviors were the leading cause of stress within our homes. However, in most instances in the recovery community, the entire family deals with issues that will not go away when one member is “cured.”
Overcoming Blame and Shame
Parents and other family members might react defensively when counselors, therapists, or other professionals want to address family work in recovery. Family work is not about assigning blame. Instead, family work helps address any problematic issues that might be recurring within the house for various reasons. Some families have never encountered problems like addiction or mental health concerns before. They might not know the best way to approach their family member. Sometimes, these obstacles can be further hindered by feelings of shame.
Shame impacts nearly every person dealing with a problem at home. Families might worry what other people will think of them if they have a kid who is depressed or addicted to drugs. These feelings can prevent people from reaching out for help. Parents might fear being judged as bad parents. They might even feel ashamed to discuss family issues within their extended family, creating dysfunctional environments where secrets are kept and children are left feeling confused.
Overcoming the blame game and feelings of shame can start when we reach out to others. Even if our closest friends and other relatives cannot relate to our experiences, we can find peers sharing similar experiences. Once we get the idea that this is our fault out of our heads, we can begin the healing process our family deserves.
Finding Peers for Guidance and Support
If our child is currently in treatment, the facility might connect us to other families. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center knows that family-to-family support is critical to the recovery of kids. When families meet and share during our parenting weekends and workshops, many feel trepidation about speaking up. Then, they hear a story of other families with kids in recovery that resounds with their experiences. Once families realize that they are not alone, they can connect with others and find support.
Be Mindful of Siblings Who Appear “Fine”
Siblings of kids in recovery might appear” fine” on the surface; however, they are likely feeling the impact of the current family crisis. Siblings of kids in recovery might take on various maladaptive coping mechanisms to deal with stress in the family. They might become overachievers to compensate for shameful feelings within the family regarding addiction and other issues. Other siblings cope by isolating or keeping quiet. They feel that they do want to “make waves” and cause more problems within the family.
Siblings who appear “fine” might be suffering greatly on the inside. They might be worried about their brother or sister in treatment. Sometimes, siblings might see the stress that these issues cause parents. They might be just as concerned about their parents as they are their sibling in treatment!
Parents might be overwhelmed dealing with one child that they overlook the others. As long the other kids are not causing problems, parents might assume everything is okay. Often siblings who are not behaving child-like or appear deeply serious and responsible for their age might be masking their feelings.
Goals of Family Work in Recovery
Family work can help to address these issues to build cohesive family units. When the family heals during the treatment process, they can commit to creating a safe, healthy, and happy environment for everyone’s betterment. When change occurs within the family, everyone benefits from improved relationships, honesty, and support.
Goals in family work involve identifying any potential stressors within the home that might contribute to the family crisis. Family work also helps to address individuals within each family. Parents might be surprised at the impact on the entire family. Having a neutral third party, like a family therapist, can help families identify these issues. Families can work on:
- Communication Skills
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Stress Management
- Setting Boundaries
Parents Become Parents Again
Many parents of children in recovery are doing the best that they can. They might recognize that things are not going well, yet they manage to prevent things from getting worse. Parents might feel more like caseworkers taking care of their kids, providing the basics, and dealing with emergencies. Family work can help parents better manage the issues within the home that are causing stress. Parents can stop being caseworkers and start being parents again.
Family work is critical to a child’s success in recovery from addiction and other challenging behaviors. Families might feel ashamed about getting help. They might believe that if the child with the issues is fixed, then the entire family will function normally. Living with a sibling with challenging behaviors or a mental health issue can impact the other kids within the household. Parents might be acting more like a caseworker, taking one child to appointments and ER visits while assuming the rest of the family is fine. Sometimes, siblings can mask their concerns and fears over their brother or sister in treatment. They might even worry about their parents due to the stress that they encounter. Parents are doing their best and might need some additional support. Family work can heal everyone—not just the person in treatment. The whole family deserves happiness. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to make your family’s fire burn brightest! Call us today at (303) 443-3343.