Anyone else a Grace and Frankie (Netflix) fan? I love Frankie, her carefree style makes me so envious and each time I watch an episode Frankie reminds me to be more of myself. And, Grace. . . well, I probably resonate too much with her personality.
One night while I was watching the episode where Bud and his girlfriend just had their baby. Bud mentioned messing up the child just a few days into her little life and Frankie said something to the effect of, "Everyone messes up their kids" (I'm pretty sure she used the f-word, but I'll keep it clean).
Isn't that the truth? Here's the thing: there isn't a parent out there that intends to make mistakes, yet it happens.
Time out or take something away?
Pay for chores or it's a part of living in the house?
Phones at bedtime or no phones?
Phones at all?
Parents are pretty opinionated about these things. I've done time out (when my kids were younger) only to have to literally move the doorknob so the lock was on the outside so my kid wouldn't leave time out. Does that mean I am a bad mom? Why couldn't I get my kid to just stay on the stupid time out chair? I have no idea, but putting that lock on the outside of the door probably screwed him up. Who knows? I probably never will.
And chores. Well that's a whole debate. Should kids just get a certain dollar amount each week or each month or should they do a chore to earn it? Should they even be paid for doing chores? I've done a little of each of these and to be honest, my consistency sucks.
And phones. Well, all three of the kiddos in my house have phones, including my 9 year old. Yes, she's 9. Give me all the crap you want, I know that when she goes to her dad's house she has a phone to call me. That is what works for us.
You might have a better way of parenting than me. But I can guarantee that you will screw up your kid too. Yes, some of us will really screw them up and some of us will just scratch them up a little. We will all have effects on our kiddos, both good and bad. And messing them up doesn't make us bad parents. Read that again: you are not a bad parent. We are all doing the best we can with what we have.
So when our children leave the nest and find themselves in addiction, it can be torturous. You might be asking yourself: Where did I mess up? The guilt is endless.
There are no do-overs in parenting. What's done is done. The good news is that when children become adults they have the power of choice. If they have fallen into a path of addiction, that process began with a choice: a choice they made. They have no right to blame you for a choice they made. No right.
So, what is a parent to do in this situation?
Open your heart, listen with love, and work to understand without judging. One day at a time.
First, love your child. Empathize with their situation and support them. Make sure they realize how their behavior is influencing the family and how it is making you FEEL. Do not accuse, do not blame, do not scream. Listen with an open heart and hopefully they will grant you the same. Lots of deep, calming breaths here.
Support does not mean enable. If you worry that cash will be spent on alcohol or drugs, buy a bag of groceries instead of handing your child cash.
Establish boundaries and stick to them. If you tell your son that he can't live with you if he is drinking or using, stick to it. This is so much harder in real life than it is on paper. But you need to stick to your boundaries. If you don't, you are enabling.
Love yourself. Take care of yourself and your other loved ones. Eat well, exercise, practice self-care. We cannot help others if we are trying to pour from an empty cup. Fill yourself up so you can be the best version of yourself.
When it comes to children, detachment is pretty tough. In some cases it may be necessary, however an approach of acceptance is probably the best scenario. Consider the idea that your child may be sick for a long time, maybe forever, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Nothing. I'm sorry. I wish this weren't the case. I wish we could shake them and make them do things differently. You can support and encourage him or her, but unless they want to change for themselves, they won't budge.
If you find yourself struggling with a loved one in addiction, I am happy to share that my new program "Pathway to Peace" is on its way. I'm wrapping it up this month and expect to launch it in August. It starts with Acceptance, and will have sections on Self-Love, Communication, and Boundaries. Join our email list at https://www.riseupmission.com/ to stay in the loop. Wishing you peace!