July 2022 Newsletter

The “Adult Children with Addictions” issue – Parenting doesn’t end when your children reach age 18. This issue opens with Coping as the Parent of an Addicted Adult Child, followed by 7 Tips for Mothers of Adult Addicts, and concludes with How To Support Your Adult Child in Addiction Recovery.

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Coping as the Parent of an Addicted Adult Child

Posted on https://silvermistrecovery.com, May 13, 2016|Family, Addiction

Although addiction is now widely thought of as a disease rather than a moral failing, many parents of adult children struggling with substance abuse may feel like they have failed or made mistakes in raising their child. They commonly report feeling guilt, anger, and responsibility for the issues their child is facing. However, addiction does not discriminate based on upbringing. The five tips below can help parents of addicted adult children maintain their own physical and emotional well-being.

Five Tips for Coping as the Parent of an Addicted Adult Child

Avoid blaming yourself if your child refuses to accept help or treatment services that are offered to them. The most you can do is make sure your child knows that these resources are available to them if they decide to pursue sobriety; you can’t force them to help themselves.

Set firm boundaries. Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are adept at avoiding consequences for their actions, and your child likely knows what to say or do to convince you to enable them to chase their next high. It’s okay to offer financial help or housing for your child with conditions, as long as you remain committed to sticking to those conditions.

Don’t sacrifice your own well-being to try to save theirs. Some parents find themselves in dire financial straits after years of covering their child’s legal, treatment-related, or general life expenses. Others may become isolated or depressed. Accept your limits as a caretaker and hold your child accountable.

Find a support system. Many communities have active support groups for people affected by family members struggling with addiction. Having a network of individuals dealing with similar situations allows parents to realize that they aren’t alone, and fellow support group participants can provide any necessary “reality checks” to parents who may be acting as enablers for their children.

Learn to separate your child from the disease of addiction. It can be tough for parents of addicts to deal with conflicting feelings of love, guilt, and resentment. Although addiction is a lifelong disease, it’s a manageable one, and your child can choose to accept help and live a sober and successful life. Recognize that your child is more than their addiction.

7 Tips for Mothers of Adult Addicts

Parenting adult children who abuse substances, the law, or their families.

Posted October 11, 2014 www.psychologytoday.com by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. 

KEY POINTS

Although your adult child is no longer legally your responsibility, you may feel an even heavier burden of social and emotional responsibility.

Remember that all parents make mistakes, and adult children have the power to make smart decisions.

Coping tips include loving but not enabling your child, protecting the rest of your family, and not assuming you can “rescue” your child.

Before a child is born, most parents are already carrying a heavy burden. They recognize that a great deal of responsibility comes with bringing a child into this world and typically believe that every choice they make from conception onward is going to play a role in how their child turns out.

For the most part, they may be right. Some choices made during pregnancy can definitely influence a child’s physiology and future health. Consuming alcohol, using drugs and some medications, eating nutritiously, among others, can all influence the health of an unborn child. However, as of the moment of conception, some unique personality characteristics and physiological potentials are already pretty much fixed, regardless of pre- and post-birth parenting choices that are made.

If you are the mother or father of an adult child who is not making the choices that are necessary for a sound future, this can be a heavier burden than any of the earlier ones you carried. When your child was young and misbehaved, you probably knew how to discipline them. Whether the effect was lasting or not, you probably felt that at least you were “doing something.”

As an adult, your child is no longer legally your responsibility, but you may actually feel an even heavier burden of social and emotional responsibility for him or her. Depending on how far from your personal measure of “good” your child falls, your personal level of anger and shame may vary. Some parents resort to hot anger and recrimination: “I didn’t raise you to be like this!” Others fall into the trap of accepting the blame that some misbehaving adult children want to place on them. Some parents may be bled dry by meeting the financial assistance pleas/demands from children who are habitually showing up in the judicial system and need money for court/legal fees. (And they may hope, often in vain, that the money goes to the stated purpose rather than buying their child more trouble). Some parents carry great shame about their children’s mistakes – believing that if they had just done a better job somewhere along the line, this problem/incidence/pattern/behavior would not have appeared in their child’s life.

Two Essential Truths

The first truth is that we all make mistakes as parents. Yes, it is true: Good parents are not perfect parents. All of us could do a better job, in some way, than we do. But once a child is grown, you cannot have a re-do or an undo.

The second truth is that once a child is an adult, they have all the power they need in their lives to make smart decisions. As a corollary, adult children have no right, whatsoever, to blame their parents for decisions they are making today. A wonderful perk of adulthood is that adults get to take responsibility for themselves and make their own decisions. And most behaviors are choices: Addiction or detox? Fighting or loving? Honesty or deceit? Working or slacking? Building up or tearing down?

7 Suggestions for Coping

  1. Remind your child that it was their choices that placed them in the circumstances that currently surround them. Emphasize that it is their conscious decisions, not just “happenstance” or “bad luck” that led them to this place. Interventions can be effective when you let your child know that their bad behavior affects everyone in the family and in his or her social and professional constellations, as well. One of the most important aspects of an intervention is that it is one of the family's steps towards health — it is a sign that a family is moving into the recovery process.
  2. Offer assistance and support only to the degree that you are financially able and that will move your child towards a better life. Don’t give money that you know will take them further down the road of bad behavior. Some people suggest that parental funding be tied to a child’s good faith efforts to improve their situation. However, if you feel guilty for not giving your child money for food, because you are fearful it would only be spent for illegal drugs, buy her a bag of groceries instead of giving her cash.
  3. Offer to help your child find support services, but don’t blame yourself if they refuse to use them. You cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. Honestly, you cannot, as much as you would like to be able to do so. It simply does not work that way.
  4. Love your child. But remember that loving your child does not mean enabling your child. It means holding him accountable for his behavior and refusing to allow him the power to dismantle the family.
  5. Do not assume that you can “rescue” your adult child . . . that is simply not possible and attempts to do so are definitely not the way to encourage autonomy and responsibility for any adult.
  6. Protect yourself and the rest of your family. Not every adult child has to hit “rock bottom” before turning around her life, so do not allow your child to bring you or the family to “rock bottom,” either. No longer is "rock bottom" seen as a necessary starting point for changing an addict's life; your family does not need to hit "rock bottom" before getting stronger, either.
  7. Love yourself. Parents truly do the best they can, but should not hold themselves accountable for the poor choices of their adult children. Once you become a parent, that role has no end point. However, the responsibilities of that role definitely shift over time as a child matures. They lessen, not expand. Loving yourself and accepting your limits will keep you from spiraling down as a result of your child's choices.

How To Support Your Adult Child in Addiction Recovery

Posted on https://royallifecenters.com/May 10, 2019 Arianna Kosoglou How To, Resources

Parents give unconditional love, which is one of the most powerful and purest things in the world. Parents just want to help their son or daughter; they want to do everything they can to make life better, no matter how their adult child has treated them throughout their active addiction. If you have an adult child in addiction recovery, there needs to be some awareness of behaviors that could harm your loved one or hurt the relationship.

This purity in rooted in good intention and unconditional love, but sometimes, the behaviors of a parent need to be re-routed to do what’s best for their adult child— no matter how hard it may be. What happens with families who are strained from addiction, is a distortion of natural parenting. Things parents have an instinct to do, are taken advantage of by their adult child and also, these instincts make work to hurt their adult child as opposed to help them.

What is Natural Parenting?

Natural parenting is essentially the natural parenting style in which parents work to seek and fulfill their child’s needs. Natural parenting techniques are nurturing and strengthen an attachment-type connection.

Addiction distorts natural parenting because addicts and alcoholics use the style of getting their needs met, to their own detriment. For example, if an addict asks their parents for money for food, but instead they use the money for drugs. Parents are eager to meet their child’s needs by providing the money, but then the money is funding self-injurious behavior on behalf of the addict.

Some Behaviors Resulting from Natural Parenting

It is a natural parenting instinct to seek and meet an adult child’s needs. As a result, some problematic behaviors ensue, including…

Enabling

Enabling is when you help your adult child do something. You could be enabling them to behave in a certain way, enabling them financially, etc. Parents who enable often keep their adult children from experiencing the consequences of their actions, which over time leads to a complete lack of responsibility and accountability. Enabling parents will help their adult children too much, in the wrong ways. Enabling parents also leads to manipulative adult children. You must let your adult children take care of themselves.

Co-dependency

Co-dependent parents have the tendency to help their adult child do something that the adult child could do for themselves. The reason for this is because helping their child do something, gives the co-dependent parent the feeling of accomplishment— their actions are often driven by both good intentions and the need to feel needed. Co-dependent parents often have self-esteem that is dependent on their adult child; the parent’s ability to successfully “help” their child gives them self-esteem.

Cheerleading

Cheerleading is when parents excessively provide words of encouragement and positivity. This is an extremely natural instinct for parents, but the affect is less than helpful. You could be “cheerleading” your adult child if you constantly provide words of wisdom, encouragement, and spend most communication with your adult child trying to motivate them. “You are so smart” “You are special” “Anyone would be lucky to…” etc. Cheerleading parents spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to help their child be happy and avoid pain. This sounds like a non-issue, however, cheerleading parents don’t let their adult children fail— which is an essential part of life and independence. Parents need to move away from being their adult child’s cheerleader, and more towards empowering their adult children.

Micro-managing

Because addiction often leaves adult children in the dependent position, parents have a natural instinct to swoop in and help. Micro-managing your adult child can make you feel like you have control over an unmanageable situation, but it works against you and your relationship with your adult child. You cannot take charge of your adult child’s life in a helpful way, your adult child needs to learn how to take charge of their own life.

Inconsistency

Many times, a parent’s response will change on behalf of their adult child’s behavior. This is a normal and natural instinct, like a model of behavior and consequences, however, to avoid inconsistency, parents need to set boundaries for clarity. Setting boundaries instead of changing reactions based upon behavior, will show your adult children how to properly operate in healthy relationships. Every healthy relationship needs boundaries. Boundaries also serve as the indicators for a change in circumstances, for example— “if you relapse, do not call me for help” may be a boundary, which speaks to a negative behavior meeting a consequence. Inconsistency can be shown as an example like unspoken disapproval for using, followed by ignoring your adult child’s phone calls if they choose to use drugs again. Boundaries will provide clarity, like written rules for certain behaviors and their consequences on the relationship.

Invalidating

Invalidation is countering emotional disclosure with advice or evidence that contradicts or dismisses your adult child’s emotion. Invalidation can come from the intention of making your adult child feel better, which is why it’s a behavior that can stem from natural parenting. If your adult child is sharing how they feel with you, like for example telling you that they are sad, it is a natural parental instinct to try and make them feel better, make sense of the emotions, or offer evidence that contradicts the emotion in an attempt to change their mind. This behavior is invalidating. You may be invalidating your adult child’s emotions without even realizing it. Some examples of invalidation include: (AC = adult child, P= parent)

AC: “I feel depressed.” P: “But you’ve been smiling all day! It seems like you had fun today.”

AC: “I’m scared about my future.” P: “You have always gotten good grades, you always had a clear direction, you’ll be fine!”

AC: “I feel like you aren’t listening when you interrupt me to say something.” P: “You’re wrong for feeling like that because I am listening.”

Investigating

It is natural for parents to know how their adult child is doing, and wanting to know more about their adult child’s circumstances in order to better grasp how they can fit in and help. If you are asking your adult child probing questions, you could be doing more harm than good. Excessively asking probing questions can make your adult child feel a lack of privacy, a lack of boundaries, and leave them feeling like a child. It is important to respect and protect any boundaries your relationship with your adult child adheres to. Give your adult child space to build their life and gain a sense of stability in self.

Constant advice-giving

It’s hard to disregard your natural instincts to give advice to your adult child, however, you need to resist the urge in order to give your adult child room to grow. It is so important to foster a relationship that allows for independence. Your adult child will always be your child, but you can’t treat them as a child forever. Give your adult child space to grow and learn for themselves. This includes keeping unsolicited advice to yourself, no matter how hard that may be. A good rule of thumb is only to provide advice when it is explicitly asked for.

Recovery

The recovery process will be a series of trials and tribulations that your adult child needs to navigate by his or her self. Of course, they will have guidance and support, but your adult child no longer needs someone to step in and take care of things for them. Recovery requires making some mistakes, the degree of those mistakes and their impact is up to your adult child in recovery. Our guests learn all about building sober support networks, which will consist of strong and sober individuals who will provide guidance, support, advice, dependability, etc. to help you adult child through the recovery process.

For family members, restructuring the nature of your relationship with the recovering addict or alcoholic is one of the most challenging things to work on. Royal Life Centers offers services for family members to ensure this transition is successful, for the best interest of both the recovering addict and their families.

How Can You Support Your Loved One in Recovery?

Here are some ways to support your loved one as they recover from addiction:

Empower

Instead of enabling your adult child, empower them. Help them help themselves. This is the most loving thing you can do for your child or loved one in addiction recovery. Empowering your adult child requires you acknowledging that your adult child can and will make mistakes, recognizing that they have that freedom is empowering them in their choices.

Staying sober

If your loved one is visiting you, stay sober in their presence. Even if you yourself are not an alcoholic or have any addiction issues, it is necessary to protect your loved one’s sobriety by not triggering them.

Encourage, without cheerleading

Offer some words of encouragement that are laced with empowerment, like “I know you can do this!” “I am confident in your capabilities!” and “I know you will figure it all out”. These words of encouragement are empowering, and support your adult child taking on a role of independence as opposed to dependence.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries will clarify and strengthen your healthy relationship with your adult child. You can decide which boundaries to set, based upon your own needs and wants from the relationship— your adult child should also set their own boundaries for the relationship. An example of a boundary you might set could be: “I go to sleep at 10 pm, if you call me after 10 pm then I won’t answer your phone call— unless it is an emergency.”

Foster reciprocity

All healthy relationships should have reciprocity. This means that there is equal give and take efforts for both people in the relationship. Fostering reciprocity is supportive to your loved one, because it sets a solid example for how healthy relationships operate.

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