Fatherhood in Recovery

It’s nearly Father’s Day and with that celebration comes reflection on those relationships, past, present, and future. While substance misuse disorders serve to isolate and separate people from their loved ones, recovery can reunite and repair those healthy support networks. In some situations, recovery becomes the catalyst to stop accepting unacceptable treatment. For others, when they come into recovery, their connections with family members, or even father-figures, can change dramatically, often for the better.

Rebuilding relationships

Our familial interactions prior to entering recovery were often strained, whether we were the parent or child. The process of acknowledging these issues, addressing them, and when possible, moving past them comes over months and years, not overnight. If we were the absent, negligent, or hurtful fathers, we may need to seek not only the forgiveness of our children, but also do some internal work to forgive ourselves. With the tools we learn in recovery, we have a fighting chance to undo some of the damage accrued in years of active substance misuse, from absence, inaction, inattention, or harm. This is no guarantee: the past cannot be unwritten, but with empathy and kindness, new and positive bonds of fatherhood can be forged. Conceding our failings is only part of the solution; we must also make sure our behavior in the present and the future demonstrates our commitment to a new way of life.

Recovery babies

There is another common vision of fatherhood seen in recovery: the ‘recovery baby’. Getting into recovery from substance misuse is a heady time of self-discovery. Many people find themselves drawn into healthy new relationships, able to make serious commitments based on shared values for the first time. When these relationships lead to fatherhood, two common concerns arise. The first is being able to perform as a father, perhaps without positive role models on which to base the behavior. The other frequent complication is the comparisons drawn between the “recovery baby” and any prior children. The best solution for any uncomfortable feelings that arise is honest and direct discussion.

Fatherhood is, and can be, a supremely rewarding challenge. Being the child of a father in recovery is an equal opportunity for positivity. In either case, the benefits will not come through passivity or inaction, but the energy devoted to the mission will yield exponential returns.

Returning to or continuing your education is a great way to make Dad proud, and kids are just as ecstatic when their fathers go back to school! The Ammon Foundation offers scholarships for people of all ages in recovery who need financial assistance to return to school. Our blog has profiles of previous Ammon Foundation Scholarship Recipients, as well as useful and entertaining information for people involved in any element of recovery, personally or professionally.