This article is fantastic! Every single one of us needs to read this and be reminded of what the heck we are doing over and over and over again. Three sentences really stood out for me, more so than the others, however, the entire article was just so perfect…so right. The three sentences?
‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.’
‘If we protect them, make exceptions for them, shield them from outcomes they need to learn from – how can we possible expect them to change or alter their behaviors? If they know there are no consequences, only the threat of one, they will not be responsible for changing anything.’ ~ Thoughts from a mom after reading last week’s blog (yes, I could have left out the “this article is fantastic” part; but, I thought this article was one of my better contributions and I really desired to celebrate the affirmation.)
Changing how way we respond to our children’s behaviors can be scary. There are risks associated with the ultimate outcomes of our decisions. There were times I was terrified about my options. I would contemplate the possible outcomes of my actions and they would scare me, almost to the point where I was afraid to make a decision. Some of the scenarios, and the ones I fixated on most were the worst of outcomes. Rarely did I envision the impact of that conversation leading to a positive result. I was only obsessed with the worst possible outcomes – death, homelessness, jail, prison, or a plunge off the deep end and lost to me forever.
It took me a long, long time to realize I was actually putting limitations on myself and on my son whenever I thought and reacted that way. He was never going to make a different choice about his addiction unless he was forced to look at his situation in a different manner. The only way he would even explore the possibility of changing his behaviors was when something forced him to. Once forced into a different situation in his life only then would he have to decide how he was going to respond to the change.
This does not guarantee or insure he is going to make the decision I would desire him to make. But, that is not why I am taking action in the first place. I am presenting him with a call to action of change, on my terms and on my conditions and by my rules for living an authentic, responsible life. I am actually empowering him to make a choice, his choices, about his addiction. Whatever he decides to do is up to him – it is his choice, his decision, and his responsibility. His choices are not my choices and what he decides is because he made the decisions he did, they are not mine nor am I responsible for them.
Until we assign responsibility to our children for their choices, including their addiction related choices, they will NEVER learn to make a decision, to understand the consequences of their decision, and go through the intellectual process of evaluating the potential outcomes of their decisions. We cannot protect our children from their choices and then expect them to learn and understand how to make good choices.
This is one of the harshest, most difficult realities for parents – letting their children make seemingly stupid decisions. Unfortunately, in the world of addiction and life, this is what we must let our children go and do. May you find the courage and the wisdom to take the action you know you need to. Peace!
100Pedals recently released two FREE programs for parents. (1) “Addiction and the Family: Four Guidelines to Embrace” is an audio progam that provides parents perspective for dealing with addiction in the family. To obtain your digital download click here. (2) “Addiction Conversation” a weekly podcast where Dave Cooke interviews parents, those in recovery, counselors, and legal experts to provide their perspectives from their experiences with addiction. To listen to an individual session click here or to download the podcast to I-Tunes click here.