Addressing parenting issues during various stages of your recovery can lead to an enhanced quality of the parent-child relationship. Research has shown that effective parenting is one of the most critical influences on healthy adolescent development – and for parents in recovery, parenting might be an even more critical factor given their children’s heightened risk for developing substance use issues.
Parents in Recovery: Should I Bring My Kids to AA?
There isn’t a direct answer to this question. As with so much in AA, the best way to approach this question is to consider Tradition Four which states:
With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience.
Basically, the individual group decides at which meetings to allow children. Many groups do not have a set policy on children. The degree to which kids are welcomed can vary from meeting to meeting depending how the individuals in attendance feel about kids. There isn’t usually an easy way to know beforehand and few groups will turn kids away – unless they are disruptive to the point of interfering with the meeting.
Issues That Bringing Your Kids to Meetings Might Help
Rebuilding trust with your kids will be essential in rebuilding your relationship and probably will be the biggest hurdle you will have to face as a parent in AA. This process can take a lot of time and work for both you as the parent and your child, who needs reassurance that you can be relied upon to be responsible. Remember, your kids have probably been let down a lot when you didn’t show up for things or you were always running late to their important events. Even if you were somehow able to stay on top of these kinds of things, your drinking and drugging had to have affected your relationship with your children in some way or another. And kids are perceptive – they know when something’s up. So, doing things together, like going to meetings, is one way to bond and build trust.
Overcoming stigma is another hurdle that both you and your kid or kids will have to surmount. There aren’t really any clear strategies for helping a child – or a parent in recovery – to overcome the stigma of drug or alcohol abuse. One thing that can help is focusing on the positive aspects of your recovery for yourself well as your children and the new behavior patterns – such as making meetings – that you are working to establish for your recovery.
Parents In Recovery: Food for Thought
So, for parents in recovery who are wondering: should I bring my kids to AA? Think about the benefits of bringing your kids along to meetings. If your kids have already been exposed to the impact of drugs and alcohol on you and your relationship, it will be beneficial for them to see that you are recovering and getting better. Also, it will give your kids a chance to be around other kids like them – indeed there are other parents in recovery who bring their kids to meetings. This will give your kids an opportunity to socialize with peers – kids just like them who share similar experiences. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.