I grew up in an alcoholic home. I am incredibly grateful that my family found recovery, but it was not until my adolescence and it came at a great price, my parents’ divorce.
Adult Children of Alcoholics Battle Cry: It Will Never Happen To Me
The battle cry of every child of an alcoholic is a firm commitment to not let it happen to us. We are passionate about doing better as parents and yet, 80% of us become alcoholics ourselves, marry an alcoholic or other compulsive personality, which includes choosing partners with mental health illness.
I am a recovering alcoholic with 19 years of sobriety. I’m grateful that my drinking career was relatively short, allowing my recovery to bring the consciousness to grow and change more rapidly with my daughters. But, I did not have the model for HOW to change.
Like many of you, I set out to learn all I could about the communication dynamics in an alcoholic home and mitigate the damage and trauma. I wanted my daughters to be as free of the generational baggage as possible.
I even got an undergraduate degree in substance abuse counseling and a Masters in Sociology specializing in communication dynamics; however, applying all that theory to real life proved to be quite a challenge. Moving away from the dysfunction of my family of origin and embracing recovery principles, did NOT mean that I had the awakening to my own spirit and emotions.
The Path to Recovery
Alcoholic families unconsciously operate according to three rules as outlined by the pioneer in adult children of alcoholics’ work, Janet Woititz, 1.) Don’t talk, 2.) Don’t trust, 3.) Don’t feel. In this way, we perpetuate denial of the problem and keep the family secret.
But in recovery we get in touch with our feelings (sometimes it feels as if our feelings are thawing out) and then we share them in loving trust. In other words, 1) We Talk. 2.) We Trust. 3.) We Feel.
I became aware early on my parenting and recovery journey that I was re-parenting myself while I was parenting my daughters. When they hit a new developmental stage, I found I had the opportunity to resolve what I had learned in my family of origin.
Recovery Paved the Way to Conscious Parenting
When my daughters were moody or withdrew, I remembered how that was shut down in my family of origin. I wanted to welcome their feelings in an emotionally safe environment. I was triggered by their retreat, but I worked on self-soothing, then creating an emotionally safe environment. I wanted them to feel their feelings and share them, if and when they were ready. I wasn’t always successful, but I was able to share my learning curve with them, apologize when necessary and continue to grow.
The 12 Steps for Parents in Recovery Awakens Conscious Parenting
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous not only helped me with my own recovery from alcoholism and co-dependency, but it also helped me make the conscious shift. I sought to break generational patterns in real and practical ways.
For me, the guidance and spiritual awakening which is THE result of the steps became my conscious awakening also. Applying the 12 steps to my parenting helped me practice boundaries, communicate with integrity and ultimately BE loving and tolerant.
In the conscious parenting movement, many of us are re-parenting ourselves as we raise our children. We identify our triggers, often leading to inner child work, we identify enmeshments and become capable of taking personal responsibility for our own thoughts, actions and feelings. We practice boundaries which in turn, helps our children take full responsibility for their thoughts, actions and feelings.
In my coaching practice, clients often identify with the dysfunction rules of not talking, trusting or feeling. They also seek a recovery pathway to awaken emotionally and spiritually. Identifying co-dependent behavior, drawing new boundaries through emotional presence and clear communication begins their journey to wholeness.
That’s why I have adapted the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for the conscious parenting journey for parents of teens, The 12 Steps for Conscious Recovering Parents of Teens.
If you are ready to do a deep dive into the conscious recovery journey, I would love to work with you. Visit and schedule a Journey to Freedom Call.
You can also join our NEW Facebook Group, Parenting with New Freedom: Talk & Tribe for Conscious Recovering Parents to support the alignment of conscious growth with recovery principles.