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Rebuilding your relationship with your kids in recovery

When divorced parents who've struggled with alcohol or drug dependency have been in recovery for a time, they often seek increased custody and visitation rights. It's essential to realize, however, that just because you believe that you can now be the parent your children need you to be, that doesn't mean that they're ready to let you.

The effects of a parent who's an alcoholic or addict can remain with a child for many years. They may still feel resentful about having to take on added responsibilities because you weren't able to handle them. They may blame you for things you did while you were drinking or using and for the divorce itself.

Learning to parent in recovery doesn't happen overnight. You need to give your kids and yourself time to forge a new relationship. Don't try to make up for lost years all at once. You don't need to attend every soccer game or meet all of their friends right away. That's only going to cause stress for you and them. Don't overpromise. Commit to only what you know you can follow through on so that you can keep your promises.

Depending on your kids' ages and maturity, it may be fine to talk about your recovery and let them ask questions. It's good to own up to your mistakes, but don't become mired in guilt. You can't change the past.

It's important to talk with your therapist or sponsor as you increase your parenting time. It may also be worthwhile for you and your kids to see a therapist together as you rebuild your relationship.

It's only natural that your co-parent may not trust you yet to spend the kind of time with your kids that you want to. Likely, their trust will take some time to rebuild as well. You may have to convince a judge that you can handle more parenting responsibility. If you need help seeking greater custody and visitation time, your Arizona family law attorney can help.

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