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Ask A Sober Mom: Sober Relationships with Adult Children

I've done the work, and I'm sober. And yet I still continue to feel hopeless when it comes to a sober relationship with my adult children.

I have caused the damage, picked up the pieces, done the rehab, worked and still working, got the counseling. I even became a recovery coach. I still continue to feel hopeless when it comes to my adult children. I don’t know how to deal with the relentless anger when I don’t do what they want, how they want. It’s enough for me to find drinking attractive again.
How do I get to a place that I can honor my life for the work I’ve done? I want to lay down the past because I’ve done and am willing to keep doing the work. Basically, what I’m asking is, is peace, joy, or some form of happiness ever achievable?
Signed, Drowning

Dear Drowning,

I’m so sorry you’re struggling to have meaningful relationships with your adult children. I can’t imagine how painful that is. My son is still young, but I know that would break my heart.

It can be difficult to repair broken trust in relationships, but you are taking the right steps. Your children may have some unresolved resentments about the past. But you cannot live in the guilt. You are doing the work and have changed your life, but you cannot change the past.

Throughout my first year of sobriety, my family continued to bring up my past. We finally had to sit down and have a serious discussion about the past, present and future. I apologized for the past and explained how I had changed. But I also had to explain that I refused to live every day apologizing for my past and living/parenting out of guilt. Your amends is to live a sober, healthy life, it is not to give in to every demand of your children. It may make them upset, but part of being in recovery is living honestly.

The most important thing you can do is to set boundaries with your children. You might even suggest family counseling to help you figure out how to have a relationship. Once you have a discussion and set boundaries, you all can continue to grow and to heal. Your sobriety has to be protected and it seems like this situation is pushing you to the edge.

It is possible that the conversation with your children may become problematic. If that happens, you can always try writing a letter. In difficult situations, sometimes it’s easier to write something than to say it. It also will allow you to say everything that is on your mind without being interrupted.

This is a difficult situation and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Thank you for reaching out. We are here to help you through this.

Sending you lots of support,

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