Mental Health Healing Man

When Parenting Goes Too Far

When you become a parent you commit your life to the care and upbringing of your child.  Making sure that you do everything possible to ensure that they grow up to be happy healthy adults, protecting them from what may harm them, and teaching them what it means to be a good member of society. But what happens when your child goes down the wrong path and finds themselves addicted to pain killers, alcohol, or illegal drugs? This is not the place you envisioned you’d be in as your children were growing up; do you have what it takes to see them through their darkest hours?  Do you have the strength to cope with this crisis?  Quite often this is a moment in many parents’ lives when they find themselves living a life of codependence.  Do not be ashamed! You are not alone, you had your child’s best interest at heart, and there is help for you and your child.

parentingAs parents we think we can make it through anything, together!  Yet in a true crisis such as a drug addicted child, you will both be so absorbed in keeping your child safe, helping them recover, and keeping the family together that you forget the one thing that is most important throughout the whole ordeal.  Taking care of yourselves. So, much time is spent focused on the need of your child that you forget your marriage, distance yourself from your spouse, and often alienate your other children. Letting go of the behaviors that lead to codependence is difficult for parents, more often it’s the mothers who suffer the hardest, but fathers are just as often vulnerable as well. Why is this?

As parents it is our very nature to…parent. We have already seen that it is our role in the lives of our children to ensure that they come first, we nurture them, give them whatever they need, sacrifice our own wishes and needs for theirs, we often don’t see that our behaviors are causing more harm than good. You feel as a parent that is your job to always fix things for them, even when it means keeping them from getting the help they need. These tendencies don’t stop when your child reaches the age of 18, they don’t just mysteriously disappear because our children have reached what the world deems to be “the age of maturity” We still feel the need to fix their lives.

Parents who find that their children are chemically dependent will often do whatever they can to fix the problem themselves.  They will throw money at them trying to buy sobriety, give then gifts trying to bribe them to quit, pay their bills for them and try to use this as leverage to try and guilt them into stopping. No matter what you do you can’t fix them.  Not while you coddle and protect them in their addiction. You can send them to treatment, therapy, counseling, interventions, inpatient treatment, group therapy…until you step back and allow them to be responsible for the harm they have brought upon themselves and their loved ones you will only exasperate the issue.

Yes, these attempts at helping your child may cause some good to come, treatment may help, but there are other things that need to be dealt with as well.  You as a parent will need to step back and allow your child to continue to make their own mistakes, and find their own way out.  You need to take the time to focus on yourself, look at the situation you are in, and realize that you most likely are blaming yourself for the things your child has done. You are not the one to blame, your child made these choices not you, and they are the ones at fault.

Focus on yourself, stop wasting all of your time, money, and energy on a person who is not interested in solving their own problems in life; this is true of a spouse, partner, parent, or child. This is a painful step for parents to take, but looking at your life you must be able to see when all your effort is being expended on a person who is not interested in the least with helping themselves.  Don’t spend your retirement fund bribing a child not to drink with his buddies. Don’t cut your friends out of your life while attempting to hide your daughter’s drug use. This only enables your child to continue to make negative choices that will haunt them forever. Not only that, it will cause you as a parent to become bitter, resentful, and can lead to your own addictive behavior.

 You can solve your problems, you can help your children, your spouse, and your other loved ones but you cannot be responsible for their happiness! When you allow their addictions to become the very center of your life, you must find the strength to let go of the drama that is created by the need to fix them, care for them and enable them while still loving them.

Take a look at your relationship with your child, and have you done any of the following?

Spent money on gifts for no reason.

Said yes to “helping” your child meet basic needs.

Lied to hide your child’s addiction.

Made excuses for your child’s behavior that hides the truth.

Blamed yourself for the choices your child makes.

Stop! Set boundaries between yourself and your child that allows you to recover. Love yourself, and remember that as we’ve always said.  NO ONE!  No one can love you if you do not love yourself. You are the only one that can control your own life! Don’t allow your child and their addiction to take over your life. This has been a harsh look at codependence. Probably the most painful form of codependent relationship imaginable is that which involves a parent and their child.  That is why it is so important to cut it off now, stop the harm that’s being done as soon as possible.  This is the only manner in which you as a parent will truly be able to aid your child in his growth as a healthy and responsible adult

HELP YOURSELF…so that you can help them.