March 21, 2017

Ozzie and Harriet are long gone

One only need to look at any of the trending barometers to know the perfect family is a television fantasy. Examine the increasing rates of divorce, unemployment and job displacement, bankruptcies, all forms of addiction, suicide, infidelity, mental health and prescription drug usage.

Does anyone honestly believe every family doesn’t have something going on inside their four walls? Based on statistics alone the probability of every family in the United States struggling with something they would rather the rest of the world not know about is extremely high.

Since everyone is dealing with something difficult, painful or challenging in their family, why is it most parents are terrified others may find out about their personal struggles? Two words – judgment and shame.

Today’s society is lost to a world of fear. I experience this firsthand daily as I interact with families living the trauma of guilt, shame and fear as they struggle with the addiction of a loved one. When a parent finds out their child is struggling with an addiction, in my particular world it is often a heroin addiction, parents immediately panic. Their panic is driven by a two-fold.  First, they fear their child may turn into one of those addicts so horrifically, incorrectly stereotyped on television. You know the ones. Homeless. Strung out. Shooting up in back alleys in the dark part of the city. If people only knew how far off this stereotype really is. Most are using drugs in the comfort of their middle or upper middle class homes, or in their neighborhood. The other is a fear that people at school, church, work, or in the neighborhood may find out. This fear is based on historical precedence as dependable communities abandon a family in crisis in response to their own fear, judgement, and ignorance.

In the situation of addiction, most parents are saying, “nothing could be worse than people finding out that my kid is one of “those” children. They will judge me, abandon me, and ostracize me and my family.  Nobody can find out.” As a result, parents often make rushed, impulsive decisions in the hopes that the problem get cleared up before word gets out. Objective number one is to keep the family “problem” out of the community gossip.  Most families with similar difficulties go through the same painful approach.

The expectations on parents to be perfect and live with this perpetual fear of failure is not reasonable or healthy. In the real world of today, families will struggle and they will have difficulties. It is normal and you have not failed. Families need resources to lift them up, not communities who foster this fear and judgement.

Reality check, Ozzie and Harriet are long gone. Trying to parent from a place of fear wearing an “everything’s perfect” mask is unhealthy and toxic.  Good news, there is a better way. Over the next three weeks, I am going to share my experiences and lessons with guilt, shame, judgment and fear, and the peace I have discovered living in the space of love, protection, humility and authenticity.

Next week, I will share more about the contrasting effect of shame and fear verses authenticity and trust, while presenting the powerful opportunities presented when you live in an authenticity space.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you. What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know:




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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.