It is a challenge to juggle sobriety and parenting. Both parenting and working toward abstinence are a challenge on their own, so when merged together it is not uncommon for you to get overwhelmed by the stress of changing your lifestyle while being responsible for your children. Despite the stress and pressure to achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle, if your ability to parent your children is being hindered by alcoholism it is critical to take the necessary steps to incorporate sobriety into your parenting plan. Incorporating alcohol monitoring into your parenting plan is important, and doing so effectively will significantly improve your ability to be a parent to your children.
Consequences of Alcohol Abuse and Parenting
It is no question that alcohol abuse and addiction leads to severe consequences, not only for you as a parent, but also for your children. Parents who do not properly seek treatment and work toward maintaining a sober lifestyle are at higher risk of many consequences, like:
- Becoming pregnant again
- Having children with behavioral or developmental issues
- Suffering from anxiety and depression
- Failing to be mentally, physically and emotionally available to their children
- Losing custody of their children
- Inflicting abuse or neglect onto their children
Studies performed by Dr. Therese Grant and Dr. Chris Graham, of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, found that mothers who abuse substances like alcohol and lost custody of their child are twice as likely to get pregnant again, and three times as likely to give birth to a child who has been affected to the exposure of drugs and alcohol in utero. These findings support that when it comes to child custody cases that involve parents who are addicted to alcohol, the issue is not resolved with removing the child from the home. In fact, the circumstances tend to worsen if the child is removed from the home due to the parent’s failure to provide for him or her.
Research supports that being proactive in achieving and maintaining sobriety from alcohol with alcohol monitoring must be incorporated into a parenting plan when dealing with a child custody case. If a parent is able to actively work on skills to maintain sobriety while working on parenting skills, he or she will be able to learn the healthy coping skills and stress management skills needed to maintain sobriety and not risk their child being removed from their home. The key component in improving parenting skills in a child custody case with a parent who is using alcohol unsafely is to incorporate alcohol monitoring and accountability into the parenting plan.
How to Incorporate Alcohol Monitoring into your Parenting Plan
Alcohol monitoring is a key component in improving parenting and taking initiative for your sobriety while working toward building a better lifestyle for you and your child. Alcohol monitoring is a means to track progress, and can be instrumental in finding points that need to be addressed in your recovery. It is helpful in improving trust between you (the parent), attorneys, court appointed officers, judges and caseworkers. It provides a means of improving collaboration in your own recovery, and helps illustrate your commitment to improving your lifestyle to become a stronger parent for your child.
When incorporating alcohol monitoring into your parenting plan, it is important for you, your attorney and your caseworker to all be on the same page with goals and expectations as a parent in recovery. It will be a challenge at times, but the key is to remain patient and remember that this will ultimately help you be the best parent you can be.
Having a child removed from his or her home is a last resort when dealing with a parent who is suffering from alcoholism. The goal is to teach parents who struggle with alcohol use ways to manage their drinking so they can be present and nurturing toward their children and provide them with the security they need and deserve. The road toward sobriety is not easy, but it is not impossible. Incorporating skills to achieve and maintain sobriety are key when incorporating alcohol monitoring into a parenting plan. Here are some things to keep in mind when monitoring:
If you are struggling with the alcohol monitoring, it means that you are struggling to maintain your sobriety. If you find yourself angry or resentful toward the machine, or the people who are mandating the use of the machine, tap into that anger, frustration and resentment. Find the core of the issue, and understand that while it is not an easy thing to go through, it is something that is necessary to secure your future with your child.
While improving your parenting plan it is important to cater to your own needs and expectations for yourself. Being sure to have the proper support and guidance while monitoring your alcohol use will be an important part of your process. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your child, so if you anticipate you will face challenges with alcohol monitoring, be open and honest about it with your caseworker. He or she is there to help you, and will be able to provide resources to strengthen your sober parenting and stress management skills.
Remember that using alcohol-monitoring tools is a means to minimize risk of harm to yourself and your child. It is not a weapon, and an enemy is not forcing it upon you. It is a means to hold you accountable for your actions, and help you learn through the process of achieving and maintaining abstinence and improving your parenting skills. You are not monitoring your alcohol use to appease the court systems or your caseworker. You are monitoring your alcohol use to become a stronger parent, so both you and your child can depend on you for physical, financial, developmental and emotional support.
Nobody expects this to be easy for you, so if you need support, ask. Try out community support groups, treatment centers or substance abuse counselors and mental health counselors. You have plenty of resources available to you, and it is important to work collaboratively with your caseworkers and support system to help you overcome your alcohol use. Keep in mind that you are mandated to alcohol monitoring for a reason, and for that reason you must work hard to incorporate sobriety into your new and improved parenting plan.
Remember that nobody wants you to fail. You deserve to be with your child, and your child deserves to be with you. It is important to ensure a safe and enriching environment for your child. You must work hard and cooperate with alcohol monitoring to prove you can be the best parent that you need and deserve to be.
Written By: Gina Marie Guarino, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Grant, T., & Graham, C. (2015, June). Child Custody and Mothers with Substance Use Disorder: Unintended Consequences. Retrieved from https://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2015childwelfare.pdf
Solis, J. M., Shadur, J. M., Burns, A. R., & Hussong, A. M. (2012). Understanding the Diverse Needs of Children whose Parents Abuse Substances. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 5(2), 135–147.
Westreich, L. (2017). Evaluating and Monitoring Drug and Alcohol Use during Child Custody Disputes: Assess Substance Use, Recommend Treatment, Prepare a Monitoring Plan. Current Psychiatry,16(4). Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-494427145/evaluating-and-monitoring-drug-and-alcohol-use-during.