A Message to the Still Suffering Parents
December 21, 2015, Tailored Transitions — Leave a comment
The language of saying no is simple. It goes like this – “No!” Addiction is rooted in selfish, self-centered instant gratification. Those suffering from addiction learn to get what they want, when they want it. It starts at an early age usually long before drugs enter the equation. It carries into adolescence and adulthood. When you tell a child “yes,” and constantly give them what they want you are contributing to the problem, compounding the issue at hand, and enabling the behavior. You are setting yourself and your child up for failure, heartache and pain. You must learn to create boundaries.
Recovery starts and ends at home. It is a family disease. It is not a spectator sport…eventually the whole family gets to participate! This means, as parents, you must learn new tools as well. Parents must learn to say “no,” and if your child is over 18 and refuses help for his/her addiction then “no” must be replaced with “you gotta go!” It is a harsh reality, but it is essential to creating an environment that is NOT enabling or compounding the presenting problem. Repeat after me:
“No, you can’t have more money!”
“No, you cannot borrow the car!”
“No, I will not pay for your cell phone!”
“No, I will not bail you out again!”
“No, you cannot live in my home if you refuse help for your addiction!”
Parents have maladaptive thoughts that lead to unwarranted guilt. If you are not giving into your son/daughter and providing them with everything their heart desires, then you feel as though you have failed as a parent. These beliefs could not be further from the truth. Your child has learned to manipulate and play off your emotions to get exactly what they want. And getting what they want is a core issue with addiction. This form of “tough love” may not settle well with you as you watch your child throw tantrums, yell, and accuse you of being a terrible parent. Please remember, that they cannot see clearly in their current state. All they can see is their next pill, drink, or fix. Just because they are unable to say “No” to themselves, does not mean you are incapable of learning to say “No” to them.
Please do NOT misunderstand me and think this article is blaming you for your son/daughter’s addiction. Addiction is a multi-faceted problem that extends well beyond parenting, family dynamics, and household rules. Addiction is a mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical illness that is created through micro, mezzo, and macro systems. The blame does NOT fall entirely on parents or their lack thereof. Similarly the blame does NOT fall entirely upon the still suffering individual inflicted with addiction. Our society, our systems, and our environment may play pivotal roles in this disease. However, either you are a part of the solution or you are a part of the pollution.
Grant me the serenity to accept the people (your child) I cannot change,
The courage to change the one I can,
And the wisdom to know that person is me!
You cannot change your child. You can offer love, support, services, and guidance, but you cannot change them. You must focus on the only person you truly have control over, and that person is yourself. Sometimes what you have control over is whether or not you say “yes” or “no.” This may sound like common knowledge, but I assure you it is NOT common practice. You must find it within yourself to learn the language of saying “No” to your child and say “Yes” to yourself. And if you are struggling (as many parents are), then find the services for yourself. As stated previously, recovery is a sport the whole family gets to play which means services and coaching exist for parents too! Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We do NOT recover alone!
Sending love and prayers to those struggling with addiction.