Parenting is a challenging journey, and when you discover that your child is struggling with substance use disorder, the difficulty of the path can feel overwhelming. In these complex times, it can be incredibly beneficial to turn to the wisdom found in “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four simple yet profound principles can serve as a guide for parents dealing with kids facing substance use disorders. In this blog, we’ll explore how applying these principles can help you navigate this complex and emotionally charged situation.

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable with Your Word

The first agreement emphasizes the importance of speaking with integrity, being honest, and avoiding harmful or hurtful language. In the context of parenting a child with substance use disorder, being impeccable with your word means maintaining open and honest communication. Here’s how to apply this principle:

  1. Non-judgmental Communication: Engage in conversations with your child and loved one without judgment. Avoid criticism, blame, or shaming. Instead, express your concerns and love while listening to their perspective. Inviting language.
  2. Clearly communicate the boundaries you expect your child to follow. This helps establish a sense of structure and accountability. Ensure that your rules are reasonable and realistic. Speak out about
  3. The Power of vulnerability – for yourself and others. To not be afraid to tell your story to your people and your tribe.
  4. Speaking our truth can be the end of isolation, isolation is at the core of addiction and mental health issues
  5. Finding a safe place to share your truth making sure you have the safe, right audience to share, non-judgmental group
  6. Being able to speak with integrity with meaning and less reaction.
  7. How we speak to ourselves and our own self narrative – Don’t’ be so hard on yourself
  8. Intentional with your word- think about what you are saying as people are listening
  9. Mindful of the impact of your word 

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

When dealing with a child struggling with substance use disorder, it’s essential not to take their actions personally. Their behavior is often a manifestation of their own struggles and not a reflection of your parenting skills. Here’s how to implement this agreement:

  1. Self-Reflection: Understand that you are not responsible for your child’s choices and actions. Self-blame can be counterproductive. Instead, focus on supporting them through their journey.
  2. Empathy and Compassion: Practice empathy and compassion towards your child. Recognize that they are facing a challenging battle, and your support can make a significant difference in their recovery.
  3. Be curios, ask questions and explore what is someone’s motive, perspective and insights.
  4. Seek Support: Connect with support groups or therapy for yourself. Dealing with a loved one’s substance use disorder can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Reaching out for help, professionally as well with peer parent support can provide you with the strength to continue supporting your child.

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. To effectively support your child through their substance use disorder, practice the third agreement:

  1. Ask Questions: Check things out, Rather than assuming you know what your child or loved one is going through, ask them about their experiences and feelings. This can help you gain insight into their world.
  2. Gather Information: Educate yourself about substance use disorder, its causes, and treatment options. By doing so, you can have informed discussions and make better decisions for your child’s well-being.
  3. Collaborate with Professionals: Avoid making assumptions about the best course of action. Instead, consult with addiction specialists, counselors, and medical professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
  4. Not knowing, being humble allows for someone to reach out and review their truths.

Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

Parenting a child with substance use disorder is undoubtedly challenging, but always doing your best is crucial for both your child and yourself:

  1. Continuous Learning: Stay informed about the latest research and treatments related to substance use disorder. This demonstrates your commitment to helping your child.
  2. Self-Care: Remember that you can’t support your child effectively if you neglect your own well-being. Prioritize self-care, including adequate rest, nutrition, and stress management. Self-inventory, HALTS, Your best will change any given day
  3. Celebrate Progress: Recognize and celebrate even the smallest steps of progress in your child’s recovery journey. Encouragement can be a powerful motivator.
  4. An acceptance of where you are on the journey
  5. Allowing yourself to be where you are, maybe you are at 50% capacity.


Looking at the system, not just the symptoms. Applying the principles of “The Four Agreements” in your parenting, you can provide the support and guidance you need. Be impeccable with your word, avoid taking things personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Remember that your unwavering love and commitment can make a significant difference in your child’s path to recovery. Seek support when needed and be patient, find pause as healing takes time and effort for both you and your child. Collaboration, connection and community are invaluable tools in decreasing addiction symptoms, as well breaks isolation at it’s core. The four agreements can be a path to hope and healing if you can have an open mind. A. Michael B.