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What is a Family Contract? How Do I Make One?

A family contract can be one of the most critical steps in getting your family back on track after treatment, especially for your kiddo who is trying to re-adjust at home. But family contracts aren’t just for families discharging from a treatment facility–a family can benefit from one at any stage of the recovery process.

 

What is a Family Contract?

In short, a family contract is an agreed-upon set of boundaries, rules, and expectations for your household and family dynamic. How do you want to treat each other? What are your expectations for your child as you move forward together? The family contract is a great way to put everything on the table immediately. It takes the guesswork out of maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship during the recovery process at home. It does not have to be a lengthy document–contracts are typically one to four pages in length, depending on the family. Write down whatever feels best for you!

 

Why do we need a Family Contract?

Setting these boundaries will add a sense of accountability and responsibility for your teen and give them tangible goals to aspire towards as they continue their recovery. Create a list that incorporates your family values, and don’t forget to establish consequences or accountability measures should expectations fail to be met. Drafting a family contract will help your family avoid the common pitfall of going straight to accountability measures without first laying out the boundaries you expect. 

 

How do I make a Family Contract?

It is important when drafting a contract that you have an open panel discussion. Your child should have buy-in to the contract, as well as a trusted counselor/therapist (if applicable). Allowing input from these sources will help facilitate real changes and adherence to not only what you want but what your teen wants for themselves. Opening the floor to discuss the contract rules will encourage conversation and allow self-expression from your kiddo on their feelings. Everyone has different aspects that they deem to be the most important–talk about the boundaries you value most and allow your kiddo to do the same. 

Practice active listening regarding the items your child suggests; they may even have boundaries and goals for you as a parent! Avoid shutting down their suggestions and allow them to share their perspective. Remember: you aren’t just their parent, you are also their biggest advocate and supporter. 

A successful family contract that follows these guidelines will bring your family together and establish open lines of communication right from the start. The goal is never to make your child dread signing the bottom. Everyone should sign with a clear conscience and a light heart as it represents the collective.

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com.