Getting healthy requires a ton of support. Whether your child is battling addiction, depression or an eating disorder, it’ll be a hard-fought road to recovery. It’s crucial that your teenager has some strong relationships on which to lean as they go through this difficult process. Whether they’re repairing old relationships that have been damaged or forging promising new ones, here are some tips for how your child can develop healthy relationships in recovery.
Get Right with Yourself
The fact that your teen is on the road to recovery means that they’ve admitted to having a problem and shown a desire to change, which is a great start. However, forgiving themselves and rebuilding their self-esteem and self-worth will take some time. Remind your child of their worth, despite their mistakes, as often as you can.
The healing process is never easy—this goes for healing relationships as well. Trust has most likely been broken, people have been betrayed and feelings hurt; encourage your teen to push past the uncomfortable feelings associated with admitting wrong-doing and asking for forgiveness, but remind them to be aware of others’ limits as they attempt to rebuild relationships.
Building off of tip #2, remind your child that patience is key; your teen must allow their friends, siblings or partner time to process and respond at their own pace. Your teen may know that they’ve changed, but the people in their life may need some time to really believe.
Examine Your Relationships
Are there people in your teen’s life that don’t need to be there? Have they been running with a crowd that encourages unhealthy behavior? Ask them to think hard about the people they surround themselves with. While it’s unwise to tell your child who they can and can’t be friends with, it’s worthwhile to ask them to really think about who their friends are.
Encourage your teen to try new, healthy activities. If they’re into sports, suggest a recreational league. If they’re into the arts, sign them up for drawing classes or music classes. If they’re into film, encourage them to go out for the school play. If your child can find a community and surround themselves with like-minded, engaged peers, it is less likely they’ll fall back into old habits.
Getting out into the community and giving back tends to provide perspective. Your child is probably still struggling with their own demons, so give them a reason to get out of their head and out of their selfish circumstances. Not only will they meet compassionate people and, hopefully, build new, substantial relationships, they’ll also get a chance to give back.
Ask your child to show respect in every aspect of their life during recovery. Encourage them to put their recovery first, encourage them to respect their body and their mind and, as the parent, show them respect; respect their feelings, their struggles and their commitment to getting better. Remind your teen, however, that respect is a two-way street.
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