February 6, 2018

Trusting your Love is Enough

I was asked the question the other day about my hands-off, love and acceptance approach for engaging my son as he walks his life path. The focus of the conversation was whether my behaviors projected approval or was enabling (I dislike this word). Finally, the question was asked, “when can I confront [interesting word choice] them with their drug use?” The need to do something, even though we know we have no control, drives us crazy. Our mindset says, we cannot stand by and allow their behaviors to continue. There must be something we can do. When is the right time to intervene and tell them what they need to do about their substance abuse?

There isn’t an appropriate time to tell them what you want them to do, unless it is solicited. It is not your problem, it is their journey, their life. Unless you have made it your problem and you are living an obsessed out of balance life, this is their journey and your quest to make them navigate a different path really isn’t going to change anything.

Do you really believe they don’t know their life is out of control?

Do you really think they don’t know what they need to do to change it?

Do you honestly think that your harping on them is going to suddenly open their eyes and make them change their behaviors?

You are reminding them of your frustrations with their choices, their substance abuse, and their addiction. This serves one purpose and one purpose only – it makes you feel like you did something, because you can’t stand the thought of not being able to do anything.

I feel you. I couldn’t stand the path my son was on. The more he was on it, the greater my frustration and the more obsessed I became about doing something about it. It was only until I realized how toxic this was for me, my son, and our relationship did I stop doing it.

Imagine, for a moment, your child’s feelings during your verbal assault about what they need to do to fix their broken life. What do they hear? What do they feel? What does it do to how they feel about themselves?

Think about what you are projecting to them as you remind them of their problems, their failures, and the things they need to do to fix their broken life. How would you feel if someone reminded you on a regular basis that you are:

  • looking fat and need to lose weight
  • your smoking or drinking is unhealthy, gross and problematic
  • your appearance, your look needs improvement
  • you have got to start exercising and taking care of yourself, maybe get to the gym.

Chances are some of these things you already say to yourself. We all are pretty good at beating ourselves up for the things we know we would love to improve or change.

What if you are already frustrated with how you look, how you feel, or a bad habit you just can’t break.

What if someone started picking on you about the same issues you already have with yourself?

Would it make you feel better or worse about the problem?

What it you really couldn’t find the path to break it?

Wouldn’t it make you feel worse and less confident, instead of motivated and inspired?

In this context, think about what you are trying to say to your child and how it is actually being received by them.

Love and acceptance are critically important behaviors. It allows you to love your child where they are, for who they are.  Regardless their journey, you can do one thing – love them and let them experience that love without criticism, judgement or condemnation.

Imagine the feeling which comes from being loved and accepted despite our flaws and failings, even to the point where someone looks completely beyond it as though they don’t exist.

Why did I stop getting involved in my son’s addiction/recovery journey?  He didn’t need me reminding me of all the things he needed to do to be a better, healthier, happier, more fulfilled person. He was already feeling that burden from within.  I was doing nothing to help him feel better; I was only helping him feel worse.

What he needed was someone who would allow him to experience the power of unconditional love, without shame or guilt.  My role as his father was less about what he needed to do for his life and more about showing him what love looked like in his life.  I chose to trust my love for him would have to be enough for the both of us.

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Addiction in the Family, featured, Parenting and Addiction, Uncategorized , , , , , , , ,
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.

7 Comments
  1. Jill Triggs Hernandez February 7, 2018 at 3:02 am Reply

    Thank you for this article. It certainly gave me some things to think about. This is the first article that I have read from your site. I thought my son was doing drugs and I asked him but he assured me that he was “fine.” He told me that he smoked pot and had his medical marijuana card. I also figured it was his journey and if he wanted to make changes, he would have to decide. Then the night before this past Thanksgiving he was arrested and I saw his mug shot online. He was not “fine” and I could tell by the photo that he was on some kind of drug and it wasn’t pot. I suspect it was heroin but I don’t know yet. I had been trying to get a hold of him by text and when he got out of jail and released on his own recognizance, he text me back and he said he was “fine” and would see me over the weekend and tell me all about it in person. I called and text him for days, as did other friends and family then, nobody could get in touch with him. He told a couple of people that he might go to California and we thought that maybe he did but the longer none of us could reach him, the more worried we got. We tried to file a missing persons report, but they said he was an adult he had rights to privacy. The next day he was found dead along side another young lady and they had been dead for 5 days on her bathroom floor from an drug overdose – we still don’t know what kind. If I had it to do over, I would have still loved him but I would have raised a lot more of a fuss in insisting on him getting help earlier on. Maybe he would of listened- probably not, but at least I would have known that I did everything possible. Now I know I’m not “fine”- I miss my son. Jill, Brock’s Mom.

    • Jill, my heart breaks for you and your painful loss. It’s a shame you and your son couldn’t have that conversation to, at least attempt to interrupt his behaviors will a love talk. Praying for healing through your pain. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. I really appreciate your perspective—and your blog. I found your blog as I was beginning to come to terms with the truth that I can not control the lives of any of my children, but esp my firstborn who was making choices to use various drugs over the course of a couple of years. I have no clue if he’ll ever be free of this struggle, though for now and for a long while, it appears he is clean. Keeping the focus on love and acceptance is so key—and liberating for me. Once he introduced our family to the reality of our kids making those choices, fear entered my heart in a very real way. To choose daily to love and trust that God knows, loves and is able to care for my kids in every situation is a blessing that brings me much more joy and peace I thought I could have after drugs entered the ice of our family. You sharing your journey is part of my process and for that, I thank you.

    • Angie, thanks for reaching out and sharing your reflections on this difficult journey. Two things you said, “Keeping the focus on love and acceptance is so key—and liberating” and “love and trust that God knows, loves and is able to care for my kids in every situation” are very powerful truths which is our source of strength in difficult times. Prayers for continue strength and wisdom on your journey. Your Faith will sustain you.

  3. I appreciate sharing this information and your stories. I am conflicted about drug addiction, especially to heroin. If this is a disease and needs to be treated like a disease than I feel we need to be involved and help get the help for our loved ones. At least get them on some medication assistance to help with the cravings and urges. It is my belief , at this time, that is when the brain can clear and become focused more on one’s health and dreams. I struggle with this question daily . My granddaughter has been struggling with heroin addiction for 2 years and lost EVERYTHING ( her children, dreams, etc ). I know she has moments of wanting her children back and and her old life but lacks the strength. I am outraged at the system for not treating the cravings, underlying mental health issues FIRST and than give the addicts a chance to grow, heal.

    • Martha, thank you for your comments and perspective. The struggle most of us have, as parents, is remaining on the healthy side of “involved.” Recovery is a process and it requires complete commitment by the individual struggling with the addiction. Parental involvement often crosses the line into “personally invested” in their recovery process. That is where things get out of balance and can be toxic to everyone. Regarding treatment programs and methodology, I agree with you. We know a great deal more today about effective addiction treatment. Access to facilities providing good treatment is frustratingly limited. I also agree, wholeheartedly that finding a way for them to be off their drug of choice, into a medically assisted program to eal with the cravings, and focusing on the mental health related issues is the best path toward recovery. Wishing more enlightened facilities were readily acceptable for our children. Prayers for you and your family and your daughter on this journey.

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