Parenting, while rewarding, is an exhausting task. Suppressing your emotional burnout is unhealthy for you and your entire family. The hard work you do is valuable and has its place, but it can also lead to extreme stress.
Parenting in itself is hard—parenting a teen who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction is even harder. If you have an adolescent who is affected by a substance use disorder, here’s what you can do as a parent to make sure you get what you need.
How to prevent burnout as a caregiver
Preventing burnout as a caregiver starts with acknowledging and accepting your role as a parent. It’s a sensitive balance of authority, respect and recognizing your limited power over your child. Especially if your children are older, there’s a certain amount of recognition that is required as you consider that your child has personal agency.
No one can cause an addiction, so there’s no reason to blame yourself. As a parent you can’t make choices for your kids, as much as you may want to, having their best interests at heart. At the same time, you still have rights regarding your child and a responsibility to enforce rules in your household.
Finding that delicate balance of acceptance of your child’s independent decision making and your own role as the parent of your child is key to managing burnout. You can’t control every situation, but you can set expectations and follow through with them.
How to manage burnout when you have a child faced with an addiction
1. Look for your own support
As a caregiver, it’s hard to think of finding care for yourself, but it’s essential to keep you running at your best. Not only does asking for help lead to logistical support, but it models an important life skill for your child. Maybe he will follow suit and ask for your help in recovery.
2. Find something meaningful that decreases stress
When you’re looking for how to manage burnout as you care for your child with a drug dependence, you’ll need to find some engaging and relaxing activity that you do for you, with no ulterior purpose. It shouldn’t add stress to your plate and should offer a mental break.
3. Get therapy for burnout
Counseling or therapy for burnout is one of your best options for dealing with the stress of having a child who struggles with addiction. Therapy for burnout can help you process the root of your emotional pain, deal with the guilt of having a child with a substance use issue and find personalized advice and practical tools that make your life better.
4. Make sure your coping is actually productive
After a tough day of parenting, we can be tempted to disassociate, scrolling on our phones, binging a TV show, indulging in junk food or even engaging in addictive habits like drinking or gambling. Maybe it doesn’t feel harmful to place a few sports bets on your phone, but consider whether the ways you cope are doing more harm than good.
5. Spend time with your family
Don’t let your family troubles keep you from spending quality time together. Struggling to help a kid with tricky needs can leave a bad taste in your mouth and leave you walking on eggshells around your spouse and other kids to avoid additional conflict. In the long run, this is worse for everyone. Remember to make good memories, too.
6. Take advantage of your benefits
In order to manage the exhaustion of parenting, use your family’s insurance to the full extent. It’s likely that your provider will cover most or all of the cost of counseling, whether it’s counseling for you, siblings, your spouse or the whole family. There’s no harm in attending therapy and plenty of benefits to reap, so sign the whole household up. Check out your company’s Employee Assistance Program, too.
7. Know when you’re at a breaking point
As a caregiver, it can feel like there will never be any rest, and the stress will pile up infinitely. This can cause burdens to build up to a breaking point. Notice signs of burnout in yourself, like fatigue, disinterest in activities you used to enjoy and hopelessness. When these warning signs get worse, you’ll know to take a step back and ask for help.
8. Advocate for change
Fighting for change in larger systems can feel like another task on your overloaded plate, but when you advocate for better futures in the bigger picture, it can give you purpose in your battles. Whether you push for better mental health services in schools or start a community support group for parents of young addicts, you can use your experience to connect to and inspire others.
Therapy for burnout
If you’re trying to figure out how to prevent burnout in your life, check out the Light Program. The Light Program can promote hope, change and healing in your whole family. Find services for adults and teens by calling today.