For however long and by what methods you've been using to interact with your child about their addiction, it’s just not getting them to really change.
They’re still choosing addiction over recovery, and you’re still feeling powerless to help. You and your child (and likely your entire family) have developed a certain way of “dealing” with these situations, and you’re not sure if or how you should change that approach. You’re afraid.
In fact, you feel fear most of the time. It’s this dominant emotion that drives your decision making when it comes to your child. There’s no logic or fact involved. Often, you don’t like how you feel or respond in these situations.
And you’re also afraid of not doing anything at all.
You're afraid of changing how you respond. You are afraid that you might end up making it worse.
Facing the fear of change
Many decisions we make as moms to children struggling with addition are based on us picturing the worst possible outcome.
Consider this story from one of the mothers I worked with — we’ll call her Donna. Her son Tommy had been struggling with addiction for years, and Donna was struggling to understand how she could best help him.
When we first started working together, Donna told me that she had recently spent $80 on another cell phone for her son Tommy. She was often finding herself supporting him financially (and emotionally as well) because she was afraid of what would happen if she didn’t help, or if she found a new way to approach Tommy’s constant crises.
I asked her why it was so important to keep helping Tommy with buying another cell phone. “If I don’t, Tommy won’t call me — how will I know he’s okay or even alive? He could die without it.” This fear that Donna had was clouding her judgment; she was creating a life-or-death situation out of a small issue (lack of a cell phone) and let urgency drive her to do what she always did (helping Tommy financially) because she was afraid of doing anything else, or nothing at all.
Knowing when it’s time to overcome the fear of change
Beyond worrying about the “consequences” of changing her approach, Donna also realized she was worrying about knowing when it was time to change; when it was time to face and overcome the fear of trying something different. It’s not uncommon to feel some of the ways that Donna (and countless other mothers) have felt when interacting with their child under the effects of the disease of addiction.
This article is for you if:
Have you tried these methods before and still nothing has changed?
Method 1: You parent softly. And by that I mean you hope that if you are nice to your child, show love and support instead of discipline and punishment, your child will act better.
Method 2: You avoid the problem. You don’t say anything… at all… ever. You hope your child will figure it out and that your child just needs to grow up or solve some other problem in his life.
Method 3: You complain/vent - your therapist and friends all know how bad Johnny or Susie has been lately. And you've been venting for years now.
Here's an approach I recommend to face your fear
All successful approaches start with taking the time you need to think through your options. Think outside the box, beyond black and white, and beyond what you’re already done. Factor in your emotions and reactions you get from your child, along with what your personal priorities might be.
Own the responsibility for your own actions. Understand that you child has choices to make day in and day out, and so do you. Complaining solves nothing. Avoidance solves nothing. If nothing changes, then nothing will change and this will be your life year after year.
Why I recommend this approach
I recommend because you have to understand how someone with the disease of addiction behaves.
- An addict believes everything is urgent. You need to be the healthy one and assess calmly if this request truly is urgent.
- An addict is manipulative. He or she will play on your emotions. He or she will try to maintain the status quo, the state of addiction. He or she will latch onto your fear, and your mind will not be able to see beyond that.
- When a child is addicted, fear is a natural state for the parent. However, when that fear drives each decision you make, you don’t make decisions that are aligned with your true priorities. And often those decisions aren’t the ones that will encourage recovery for your child.
Do this NOW to empower yourself to face your fear
Next time you’re faced with an interaction with your child about their addiction, take some time before responding. This is often hard to do because of the nature of the disease of addiction. The disease wants everything now, now, now. So, click the blue button below TODAY and download 3 Simple Steps For Taking Your Time Before Responding.
Work through this experiment that starts with brainstorming and ends with planning your “exit strategy.” Think about this new option and how it’s different from what you might typically do. Ultimately, this is an experiment with two outcomes: You’ll either W:Win or L:Learn.
Download 3 Simple Steps For Taking Your Time...
Take the next step towards overcoming your very natural fear of change
Taking time to consider each request/need is the first step. Actually figuring out how you want to respond to each request is more complex and beyond what I can cover in an article.
To hear real life examples of how I moved past my fear, into a place where I could love my son, Eric, in another way, watch my workshop.
Hear how I overcame my fear (and how you can too).