There is a saying, often associated with 12-Step programs, that refers to recovery as a plan of “progress, rather than perfection.” This concept of moving forward at all costs is a big factor when it comes to avoiding sliding back on the progress that we have made with our daughters in their recovery.
What Does Sliding Back Mean?
Sliding back simply means reverting to a worse state than we were once in. For example, imagine you have spent months trying to break the habit of looking at your phone before bed, and you have finally started making progress. Then, seemingly out of the blue, you are back looking at that phone pre-bed again. This is an example of what sliding back looks like.
When it comes to recovery and your relationship with your daughter, sliding back has to do with reverting back to poor and negative communication practices. Often, this happens when the connection to the initial recovery plan begins to wain.
Now, it is important to note that sliding back does not mean relapse. While, yes that would be some form of sliding back, it is not specifically what this term refers to. A relapse is its own type of setback. However, sliding back and relapse do have a connection because too much sliding back could certainly create some relapse potential. This includes sliding back into “pointless” power struggles.
Avoiding Pointless Power Struggles in the Home
After a child returns home from treatment, there is often what is referred to in recovery as a “pink cloud” period. This is the time when everything seems to be clicking, everyone is happy, and everyone is engaged and excited about recovery. Now, there is nothing wrong with a “pink cloud.” In fact, the longer a pick cloud could last, the better. But the reality is that eventually, the cloud diminishes, and if we’re not ready for it, we can be in for a rude awakening.
Just because a child has gone through treatment does not mean that they are going to be “perfect.” Or perhaps better said, it doesn’t mean that they are going to stop being a kid. This is fine, to a degree. A little rebellion is natural. Besides, they have really beaten the odds by making it into active recovery, so they deserve a little slack.
However, when serious sliding back begins to happen and pointless power struggles present themselves, it becomes time to be more definitive in what you expect from your daughter. Also, there is a way to avoid sliding back before it even happens. This is by creating a home agreement that both you and your daughter can agree upon.
Creating a Positive Contact Between Parent and Child
Just as creating a relapse prevention plan can be beneficial post-treatment, so too can creating a positive home agreement (or parent/child contract) right away when they get home. This contract is a great way to create a binding agreement that can be referenced when times get rocky in the home.
Now, this contract should be mutual, which means that there may need to be some compromises, but never to the degree where you lose your ultimate authority in the home. The contract may include curfew agreements, a promise to attend a certain number of recovery meetings, and academic expectations, as well as many other possibilities.
This home agreement should also make clear the consequences that will take place if there is a “breach of contract.” It is also crucial that the promise of these consequences be kept. Otherwise, the contract merely becomes a thing of show.
Sliding Back: How to Jump Back Into the Work
Now, what happens when a home agreement stops working and your daughter continues to act out? This is a great time to connect, communicate, and remind them that they have certain obligations to the home and the family, one of which is contributing to a peaceful home environment.
Jumping back into the work after a bit of sliding back can feel difficult at first. But, the key is communicating the way you feel, and just as important, make sure that your daughter feels safe to share her feelings as well. This openness might be the bridge that is needed to come together and create a more mutually effective home agreement. One that includes more work on whatever issue caused the sliding back to begin with.
Helping the Family Heal at Clearview Girls Academy
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we believe in the wholly interconnected nature of the family. This is why we work to heal the family as well. A healthy post-treatment family is going to significantly reduce potential relapses, as well as create a much-needed sense of calm in the home.
Now, we also understand that recovery is rarely linear, and there tend to be a few steps back on the road. However, these steps don’t have to totally sidetrack your daughter’s recovery. You can help her stop the slide and continue to progress. No, it might not be perfect, but it’s progress, and in recovery, that is the most beautiful blessing.
Sliding back on the progress that we have made as parents often stems from the fear that we are going backward. It is important to answer the question: “What’s my next step when my child pushes back?” “Will I fight fire with fire?” No, of course not, because this is rarely effective. It can be highly beneficial for you and your child to create an available home agreement that both of you will agree upon. This contract can help you stay out of these struggles. It will also help both of you keep your word, which will continue to create trust in your relationship. For more information on creating a positive parent/child relationship, call Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.