It is difficult to be logical and organized when everything around you is in a state of chaos. When you discover your child is dealing with an addiction, chaos easily becomes the routine. Nothing is the same, everything is turned upside down, and your “perfect” world feels as smashed as a quarter on a train track. Try as you might, there is no going back.
However, that doesn’t leave you doomed to live in chaos. You can create some order in the maelstrom. It all starts with boundaries. Boundaries define for everyone involved – you, your spouse, your child, and anyone else involved – what you as parent(s) will tolerate and what you won’t tolerate; what you are willing to do and what you aren’t willing to do; and what you expect of them and the outcomes associated with non-compliance. The guidelines and the outcomes are yours to define. Only you know how you desire everyone to interact in the household, and only you can define the consequences for not abiding by this structure.
As I can attest, the challenge for any parent is having the willingness to stick with the plan. Plans sound great on paper, but tend to fall apart in reality, as quickly as a diet plan facing off with post-dinner dessert hour. Let me share a few suggestions for your plan to deal with chaos. First, structure the rules in such a way that they can be managed and that you are actually willing to enforce them. When your kid gets arrested or you find evidence of addiction in his or her bedroom, what are you actually willing to do to address that? Second, define outcomes that encourage the behaviors you desire as well as penalties that make engaging in these future behaviors more difficult inside the house. Finally, if they choose not to abide by the rules – and assume they will try to buck the system, that’s what the plan is for – then remember this is their choice to disrespect the rules and embrace the outcomes, not yours. Your choice is how you choose to respond.
God gives us his law. Throughout the Bible, God shares with us his message for how he commands that we live, love and interact. The consequences of non-compliance are quite clear. While I do not believe he brings calamity upon us when we stray, we are at risk when we stray from the path he has called us to walk. When we walk in his path, it doesn’t mean everything will be rosy and easy, it means that we are under his protection and his guidance. When we stray, we are putting ourselves in danger.
Being a parent means clearly defining our expectations for our children. When they depart from our guidance and our rules, it doesn’t mean we abandon them. It does mean we have the responsibility to let them experience the outcomes of their choices. How else can they learn about their choices and the risks associated with departing from the guidelines you have established for them?
God teaches, guides, and instructs us in very powerful, sometimes painful ways. We can learn a lot about being a loving parent by his example. His rule is clear, his love is unconditional, and there are outcomes associated with our independent choices, both here and in the life to come. Apply this process in your family and with your addicted child, looking to God for guidance and support, and you will find there is less chaos and more clarity with your structure.
Are you the parent of a child addicted to drugs or alcohol? The emotional rollercoaster of addiction is not God’s best for you or your family. Dave Cooke is an Addiction Coach and an internationally recognized speaker. Let him show you how to move your family back on track in a healthier direction by applying Christian principles. To contact Dave for private coaching, go to http://www.100pedals.com/coaching/ or email dave@100Pedals.com. You’ll be amazed what a difference an hour with Dave can make in your life!
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