For those us struggling with addiction, the decision whether or not to have children is fraught with some unique fears, on top of the common, universal fears we all experience around parenthood. When we’re making the decision to become parents, oftentimes we’re consumed with fear that our children will inherit our addictions. We worry that we won’t be able to prevent them from witnessing our own struggles with addiction or becoming addicts themselves. We worry we won’t be able to be competent parents, and that our addictions and mental health issues will impair our ability to be good to our children. We fear we won’t have the stability, whether mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic or financial, to provide happy, healthy homes for our children. We fear that our unresolved issues will corrupt our ability to be loving and protective. We assume that because addiction can be genetic that our children will get the worst of our addictive traits and be doomed to lives of illness and unhappiness.
Our fears around having children often stem from the unresolved fears we have around addiction in general. We fear we don’t have the internal resources to heal ourselves. We fear we’ll always be struggling with addiction, in endless cycles of relapsing, getting clean, falling back into old patterns, and then starting all over again. We fear that addiction will always overpower us, and that we’ll never be able to release ourselves from its crushing grip. We hate our addictions. We hate what they’ve done to us, and who they’ve made us become. We don’t want this life for ourselves, nor do we want to expose our children to it. We want to protect them. We want them to be happy and healthy. Even before they’re born, even before they’re conceived, we have powerful innate parental instincts that make us want to shield them from harm. We worry that our addictions will prevent us from being able to do this, and we’re desperately afraid that we ourselves will be the ones to hurt our children.
All of our fears around parenthood when recovering from addiction are natural, common and quite understandable. It’s a great idea to share these fears with a therapist, with other friends in recovery, with our sponsor and recovery coach, and in support groups. The more we can express and communicate our fears, the more we can heal them. We don’t have to let them fester within us, causing us more panic and anxiety as we’re working to make the life-changing decision whether or not to have children. As we examine all our reasons for wanting to be parents, as we’re doing all of the preparatory work, we can be healing these fears. We can affirm to ourselves that we’re strong enough to get better, and that with commitment, love and healing, we can be the parents to our children we so want to be.
The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and the feelings of hopelessness and disconnection that come with it. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.