For many people, addiction is perpetuated by unresolved anger, feelings of resentment, and relational conflict such feelings can disrupt the relationship between you and your child. Therefore, there is a lot to be said about the importance of forgiveness as your child begins their recovery journey. In order for your child to have success in recovery, is essential to practice forgiveness.
When Anger Is Left Unresolved
Sometimes, being angry at the way things are can be a catalyst for change. However, unresolved anger can be unhealthy. On an emotional level, anger can prevent you from experiencing happiness and can keep you feeling stuck in one place in life. If your child’s substance addiction has caused you to become angry at them and yourself, it is important to address this unresolved anger.
Remember, addiction affects the whole family, therefore you must work together to manage the challenges that come with recovery. A big part of the recovery is learning how to navigate unpleasant emotions, such as anger, in healthy ways. Some positive ways of managing anger may include:
- Writing in a journal
- Group or individual therapy
Forgive Your Child
You might think that forgiving someone for their actions or behaviors means that you are okay with being treated unfairly. You may also think that forgiving your child means excusing them of their actions. Understand that addiction is a disease, and when under the weight of addiction, your child is not their true self.
Forgiveness means letting go of the anger and resentment that keeps you and your teen from living life to its fullest. It means not allowing your child’s addiction to run both your lives. Forgiveness in this context means choosing not to live with deep-seated anger any longer.
The Importance of Self-Forgiveness
Self-forgiveness is another critical aspect of the recovery journey. While it is common for those in recovery to experience shame and guilt for their actions, as a parent, you may also experience feelings of shame or guilt. It could be so powerful that you might convince yourself that you are not a good parent. However, so long as you support your child’s recovery and not unhealthy habits, you are moving in a healthy direction. Therefore, continually beating yourself up for past mistakes will not change the past. You have to learn how to forgive yourself. The same can also be said for your child.
Work with your child on self-forgiveness. This will require admitting past mistakes. We all behave in ways that we aren’t proud of from time to time. With the help of a family therapist, you and your teen can recognize the past for what it is and work to do better in the future. Self-forgiveness will help you and your child overcome feelings of guilt, shame, and blame.
How Can We Seek Forgiveness From Each Other?
It can be challenging to seek forgiveness for past mistakes. It requires a hefty dose of humility to admit to someone else your wrongdoings. The first step in asking forgiveness is to take ownership of actions and issue an apology. Avoid making excuses; instead, admit where you went wrong and try to recognize that you did not know any better.
The next critical part involves listening. Your child is also experiencing difficult feelings. Sometimes the best way to get your child to open up takes listening. Listening allows your child to talk through their feelings and express their remorse for how they may have treated you and other family members while under the weight of addiction.
What Alcoholics Anonymous Says About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is actually a critical part of the Twelve Steps of recovery in the “Big Book” used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s outlined in steps eight and nine:
- Step Eight: Make a list of all persons we had harmed and become willing to make amends to them
- Step Nine: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others
Mending what was broken is part of breaking the cycle of substance abuse. It can be uncomfortable to confront those we hurt and admit where we went wrong, but many who have done this report feeling a deep sense of peace and freedom afterward, even if they are unable to mend all broken relationships.
You may want to consider joining a local chapter of AA or parent-teen-focused support groups to help you along your forgiveness journey. It can be helpful to not only receive guidance from others who have walked a similar path but to be in a community with other people who are experiencing the same thing. You can help hold each other accountable and encourage each other to keep moving forward.
Forgiveness is a critical part of the recovery journey. It can also be one of the hardest. Unresolved trauma, and associated feelings of anger, can perpetuate substance use. Therefore, for success in recovery, it is essential for parents and teens to forgive others and themselves for the past. At Clearfork Academy, we understand the complex emotions you may be feeling and can help you and your teen sort through them in the form of therapy and various treatment programs. We are a program that specializes in the treatment of adolescent males ages 13 to 18. Our licensed, compassionate staff can help you process anger or resentment and instead develop healthy coping skills for dealing with unpleasant emotions. Our treatment programs can help walk you and your teen through the process of making amends. For more information, call us today at (888) 966-8604.