Healthy relationships can be crucial to our recovery. We can find people to connect with that help us grow into the best versions of ourselves. As parents, we might be worried about the friendships that our kids are making in recovery. We always want to be sure to guide our children in making healthy decisions, which includes developing friendships. Our kids are most likely looking for people going through the same things that they are going through. They may be reaching out to their peers for support, which may worry us. We may be concerned that our kids will make bad decisions with peers who are also in recovery. Will our kids just influence one another to make bad decisions? Will they share stories of being in trouble and glorify their past actions? Will their peers lead them to relapse?
These are legitimate and understandable concerns for parents. We may need to think differently about other kids in recovery. We might need to remember that our kids need peers in recovery. They need people from their “tribe” to relate to them. Our kids, like us, need to share a common bond with others. They may also find inspiration from other kids who are ahead of them in their recovery. When we see our peers go through a similar experience and succeed, we realize that we can also succeed. Our kids might look at their peers the same way. They may need role models who are around the same age and can relate to the same struggles that they have experienced.
The relationships that our kids have with one another in recovery helps them connect their stories. They are more likely to have shared experiences and emotions. They are also growing up within a similar cultural “backdrop,” which can influence them in ways that we, as parents, do not understand. The things that we grew up with—the cultural issues and technology—are much different than the world in which our children are growing. We may not understand the new pressures and challenges that they are facing. We might be able to relate to them in some ways; however, our peers can connect to our story in a way that other age groups cannot.
When our kids share “war stories,” we might fear that they influence one another to resort back to their old ways. All of these things depend upon the results and the intent. Are they then relapsing following the “war stories” or connecting to one another’s stories? Are they glorifying their past behaviors or finally talking to others who can relate to their mistakes?
Qualifying Ourselves With Peers
Of course, as parents, we want to make sure that our kids are spending time with others who will be healthy for them. We want them to make good decisions with their friendships. We might worry about the peer friendships in recovery, as we might think they will influence each other to go downward. What if we re-think this notion? Our kids might be looking for others to “qualify” themselves and their experiences. Peers in recovery can relate to our kids in a way that other kids cannot. When our kids speak with kids who have not needed treatment or hospitalizations, do they feel validated or alienated? Imagine our kids at school. Our kids might have spent their summer in rehabilitation or in-and-out of the hospital. Most of the other kids in their schools talk about being bored at home, going on summer vacations, or having part-time jobs. Do our kids feel connected to these other kids? Do they believe they are qualified to fit in with the crowds of “regular” kids? When they have an issue, will they connect and find solutions by talking with the “good” kids who never get into trouble?
We can rethink our conception of the word “influence.” We might not be considering the other side of influence, by being overly concerned with “bad” ones. What about the good influence that peers can have? We might not be thinking of the positive impact that peers in recovery can provide. What if they are finding someone by relating to their story? What if they are finding solutions to the problems that they faced by connecting their experiences with the experiences of others? Our kids are not always going to influence one another to go back to the past. They may be relating to each other’s “war stories” in order to find common ground and solutions. They might be inspiring one another to build a brighter future.
We might be worried about our kids in recovery and whether they can find suitable peers who can influence them in positive ways. We might worry when they start to hang out with other kids in recovery when we know that they have had a troubled past. We may fear that they will be influenced to go back to their former habits and behaviors. However, our kids may need to find others who can relate to their experiences and struggles. Our kids may find good influences in recovery by seeking out those who are successful in their lives. They may need to find others who can connect to their stories and share solutions to their struggles. If your child struggles due to addiction, mental health issues, cutting, promiscuity, or other behavioral issues, call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment at (303) 443-3343 today. We are here to help families and kids in healing and recovery.