Parenting Mistakes During Active Addiction: Finding Healing and Connection

girl on guy's back

Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.

“I’m so sorry Ashlynn, I’m sorry Lorelai, I’m sorry Brennan, and Bailey”. This was all I could say to my 4 children after I realized halfway into the day that all the poor attitudes, complaining, whining and dissension my 4 children were causing were simply just a reflection of me.

I think things hit rock bottom in my heart when I heard my 4 year old boy say, “No, you’re stupid!” I immediately thought, “stupid”, who taught this kid how to say stupid? That’s when it hit me and I had time for a quick, yet important, self-reflection; “Ryan, he is simply mirroring back what he sees in you. He’s a responder, an imitator. You (DAD) are the originator.”

OUCH!! I was rightfully crushed to know that it was my poor attitude, my complaining, my whining and my dissension that my children were simply “mirroring back” to me.

What a Fool Does

When you are at the crossroads of reality what do you? Here’s what a fool does;

  1. Shoot the messenger: I don’t like what you’ve brought to me with this new self-realization so I’ll just destroy the messenger.
  2. Blame, minimize, and deflect: “I’m not really that bad, at least my kids have a parent/parents who provide food and a house for them.” OR “I’m better than ‘so in so’s’ dad.”
  3. Sulk and complain: “Why is my life so hard?” OR “If my kids would just obey a little more, appreciate a little more, be a little more grateful.”

Dr. Henry Cloud says, “A fool gets the light (truth), and rather than adjust to the truth, they simply readjust the light away from them.

A wise person adjusts their life based on the truth so there response would be dramatically different, “Wow, it seems that I have been dramatically and devastatingly damaged my children. I must learn, I must grow, I must change. If not my kids will end up just like me.” This way of wisdom isn’t easy or popular but it is the way to life and freedom.”

Kids Are Looking for Something Besides Perfection

Portrait Of A FamilyPortrait Of A FamilyHere is what I have learned about raising children in my 11 years with 4 children- my kids aren’t looking for (or even expecting) a perfect father but they are looking for a humble, grace-centered, loving, engaged and present parent.

If you’re wrestling through an addiction than at an appropriate time it would be wise to apologize (to God first) and then to your family (spouse and children) and ask them to forgive you for your sin. Ask them to encourage you and support you in your journey to wholeness and ask them to continue to shower you with grace and love because the journey to health is not easy.

Once I swallowed my pride, saw the devastating reality of my own terrible attitude and asked God and my children for grace an ironic thing happened next- My children ran to me for hugs (intimacy) and began opening up about there own shortcomings (trust and mercy). And to think it was so easy…all that needed to happen is dad needed to go first! So parents, for your joy and your kids progress and emotional safety– be the parent, go FIRST!!

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you experienced forgiveness when sharing past mistakes with your loved ones? How has honesty and forgiveness impacted your recovery?

About the Author:

Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.

Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR

Addiction Hope is proud to announce the initiation of a special Christian Track of blogs and articles to commemorate the blessing of our sister site, Eating Disorder Hope’s 10th year anniversary. Watch for further content noted as “Christian Track”.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 19th, 2015
Published on