Challenges, Effects on Children, and Possible Solutions
Co-parenting is not a walk in the park, especially when one parent is a drug addict. Disagreements about schedules, rules, and lack of consistency often occur, leading to a chaotic co-parenting situation. Sometimes, no bargaining or begging will sway an active addict into sobriety until they are ready.
The burden is on the sober parent since they do everything in their power to ensure their children aren’t affected. This post explores the challenges of co-parenting with a drug addict.
Challenges of Co-Parenting
After divorce, various emotions and feelings run high, making it hard for the ex-partners to communicate or interact. Here are some of the most common challenges faced by co-parenting parents.
• Lack of clear communication. Poor communication is one of the most prominent issues faced by parents. Sometimes there is no communication at all. As a result, parents cannot work together for the common interest of the children.
• Lack of cooperation. Conflicting opinions are the major obstacle limiting cooperation from one or both parents. Challenges that further complicate the co-parenting process arise when there is a lack of cooperation. The parent-child relationship is likely to suffer.
• Imbalance. Persistent parenting struggles can lead to routine imbalance. This one-sidedness can impact the time the children spend with each parent and influence their emotional well-being. Balance keeps both parents present in the children’s life.
• Poor consistency. Children thrive well in stability. When one parent is inconsistent, children have to deal with changing schedules, which can affect them psychologically.
• Conflicting Rules. Think of a parent’s house where children can stay out late while they have a curfew at the other parent’s home. It creates a competitive environment for children’s affection and arguments between parents.
How to Co-Parent with a Drug Addict
Co-parenting with a drug addict can be challenging because someone can’t have control over their choices or behavior. Nonetheless, the following suggestions may help manage the addiction impacts on sober parents and children.
Set Healthy Boundaries When Co-parenting
If one is concerned about the addiction of their co-parent, there are steps to ensure a child’s safety. They may set some boundaries on when and how the parent struggling is allowed to interact with the kids. Sometimes a facetime or phone call may work better than in-person visits.
When the co-parents share custody, it is vital to consult a law professional when setting the boundaries. Parenting times can be modified when excessive drug abuse becomes an issue.
Seek a New Custody Arrangement
If a co-parent suspects that the other parent abuses drugs, they can seek custody arrangement modification. Most judges are hesitant to award sole custody to the sober parent without proof that the addict is endangering the children.
Therefore, those reporting need to gather enough evidence from a third party like a medical provider. A family attorney may also help gather relevant evidence to present to the court. To successfully switch custody, the court requires proof of the following.
• The current environment endangers children’s health and emotional development.
• Change in circumstances or a child is over 12 years and has a change of preference.
• The requested changes are in the best interest of the children.
Suggest Getting Professional Help
Advising the addict to see a professional is an excellent way to help them and streamline the co-parenting journey. Based on the level of concern, one can refer them for substance use therapies. These may include inpatient rehab, codependency treatment, support groups, or individual or family therapy. A professional can help choose the best therapy option depending on the severity of the addiction.
Signs of Active Drug Addiction
Taking a few drinks with friends on weekends or just one bottle a day can slowly become an addiction. The same applies to other drugs and substances. Below are some of the signs that someone is experiencing active drug addiction.
• Taking a higher dose of a drug to achieve the same effects
• Feeling strange when the effects of a drug wear off
• Inability to work or think normal when one is sober
• Being unable to stop taking the drug even when one is willing to
• Thinking of the drug most of the time
• Having a hard time setting some limits
• Mixing a drug with other substances to get stronger effects
• Having trouble getting along with family, friends, or co-workers because they all complain of changes in character
How Drug Addiction Affects Children
Drug addiction can affect a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. Here is how:
When a parent with active drug addiction raises a child, they may develop specific physical issues. A good example is when the mother abuses substances when pregnant. The obvious effects include:
• Stunted growth
• Malformation of vital organs
• Physical defects
They are also likely to develop illnesses like asthma or migraines after birth.
When a child has an addicted parent, their home environment may be ruled by chaos and insecurity, making them mentally affected. They tend to perform poorly in school, and their social interaction becomes problematic. The chances of abusing drugs in the future also rise.
The common emotions that these children experience are fear, anxiety, loneliness, depression, shame, confusion, and anger. When the addicted parent is abusive and violent, children develop hatred towards them, affecting their bond.
How Addiction Affects Co-Parenting
Drug addiction only makes the previously mentioned co-parenting challenges worse. The addicted parent lacks cooperation, neglects rules, and may not be present in the children’s life.
It is also possible for a parent to lose custody of their children due to drug abuse. This is especially true when there is proof of violence. Most judges prefer giving custody to the non-addict parent for the children’s well-being and security.
Co-parenting gets more manageable when the parent battling addiction is in recovery. New Method Wellness is a reputable drug addiction treatment center with alcohol and drug detox facilities. We aim to provide the individuals we treat with lasting recovery. Take the first step and allow our caring and compassionate wellness team to walk you through the recovery journey.