5 Ways Being Sober Makes You a Better Parent

Substance abuse and parenting don’t mix.  Nobody sets out to become a parent with an addiction, but cultural trends that normalize and even encourage alcohol use for stressed out moms and dads are giving addiction an insidious outlet from which to take hold.  Recently there has been a pushback against playdate cocktails and “wine mom” culture by parents who understand the value of sobriety in fostering effective and compassionate parenting. If you are considering becoming sober, or think you may have an addiction, the love you have for your children can be one of the greatest motivators to seek professional help.  Choosing to quit drinking has the potential to improve many aspects of your life, but you will certainly find that it transforms your ability to be there wholly and completely for your children. By understanding the ways in which sobriety will enhance your life and your parenting, you can begin to incorporate your parental goals into your recovery.  

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Being Present

The most obvious and immediate way being sober will turn you into a better parent is by allowing you to be present with your children in all the precious moments you would otherwise miss.  Alcohol causes you to become self-absorbed and unaware of your surroundings. Even with the best of intentions, your children will notice when you begin to become intoxicated and mentally check out from your interactions with them.  Being sober means that you can focus on your children as they tell you about their day, or play a game with them and actually remember the experience. The best part of being a parent is watching your child grow and creating memories that will last a lifetime, and being sober allows you to parent with mindfulness and intention.   

Having More Energy

Parenting requires a lot of energy, from the moment your kids wake up until far past their bedtime as you pack lunches and prepare for another day.  Nothing feels quite as lousy as attempting to be present for your children with a hangover, or trying to keep your energy up at sporting events and school functions while you are drowsy and sleep deprived.  When you are deep in active addiction, it is common to only feel energized when you are drunk, and only be preoccupied with where and when you will find your next drink when you are sober. Being sober will give you the stamina you need to keep up with your children’s demanding schedule and enthusiasm for life.  Your kids will notice your increased energy and alertness, and they are sure to thoroughly enjoy your newfound ability to keep up with them.    

Keeping Your Children Safe

Being a good parent requires constant vigilance and attentiveness when it comes to your children’s safety.  Unfortunately, alcohol use often leads to some form of child neglect, and in some cases, child endangerment.  Parents under the influence have been known to lose track of their children in public places, not notice their child as they fall into a pool or walk into the street, and even drink and drive with their children in the car.  One of the greatest gifts of sobriety you can give yourself and your children is the knowledge that they will be safe in your care, and never again will you have to feel the guilt and shame that comes from drinking when you should be caring for your child.

Setting an Example

For those of us who struggle with addiction, the thought of our children following in our footsteps can be one of our biggest fears.  Children who are raised by addicted parents are far more likely to fall into addiction themselves, due to both genetic and environmental factors.  Becoming sober will not only model for your children what a healthy lifestyle can look like, but will also set an example of perseverance and strength in the face of major obstacles.  If your children are still young, they may not fully understand the implications of your sobriety, but as they grow they will surely come to admire your ability to pull yourself out of a difficult situation and thrive in a life of sobriety.  

Building Healthy Relationships

Children learn through example, and that includes the relationships they witness between their caregivers.  If you are in a relationship with your child’s other parent, becoming sober will improve that relationship exponentially by facilitating healthy communication and eliminating the many stressful consequences of addiction.  If you aren’t in a co-parenting relationship, you will still have the opportunity to model healthy relationships with friends and family, and functional romantic relationships going forward, if you so choose. Living a sober lifestyle takes the toxicity of alcohol out of all your relationship choices, and gives your children a shot at creating healthy relationships themselves.

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Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness
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