Learning to Parent When Everything is Okay

February 5, 2019


This past week, Alpha 180 hosted its first immersive Family Workshop. From all over the country, family members joined their young adult sons for the purpose of stepping into their new roles as recovering individuals. Some tears and many laughs were shared as these parents witnessed their sons, perhaps for the first time, as young men in recovery.

At Alpha 180, we seek to restore the developmental trajectory of our clients prior to the disruption their addiction caused. Young adults’ self-esteem is closely linked to achieving age-appropriate milestones like moving out of their parents’ house, going to college, and exploring the person they want to be. This means transitioning into a more autonomous, parent-adult relationship as they experience a newfound sense of independence. While parents will likely agree that their goal is to help their children become healthy, self-sufficient adults, addiction’s influence on the family system creates a cycle of fear-driven enmeshment, which can stymie healing. Understandably, parents are reticent to trust the reports of nascent maturity they receive from a distance.

Like any fundamental transformation, this relational shift must be felt and experienced. “I’m glad that he’s sober, but I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop,” is a fear for many parents of newly sober young adults. Only by engaging with their sons as the recovering young men they are today do parents feel safe allowing the individuation process to occur. A variety of experiences within the Family Workshop gave parents the opportunity to explore their own process of healing from the foundation of safety that their son’s recovery provides. The goal of the weekend being to enjoy the hard-won benefits of recovery, while shifting the family dynamic from a place of anxiety to mutual appreciation and cooperation.

There is an innate drive toward healing within each of us. The trauma of living in or affected by addiction leaves family members, rightfully, afraid to let their guard down. While everyone individually is seeking connection and happiness, families must come together to write a new chapter together for true healing to occur. No one recovers in a vacuum. A gift of this work is witnessing families as they physically and emotionally relax once the conditions for healing have been laid. At Alpha 180, we are not treating addiction – we are living in recovery. Here, families are free to let down their guard and love their young adult sons as the successful men they are becoming.