If you are a parent who is hurting due to the self-destructive choices your child is making, or if they suffer from a mental illness and the repercussions of these things are turning your life upside down, then this blog is for you. Does your child have an eating disorder but refuses to see a counselor about it? You may feel like you can’t bear it one more day. Are they abusing alcohol or drugs while living in your home? You may feel like you are going crazy! Are they refusing to take meds for depression or a mood disorder (i.e. bipolar, etc.)? You may feel like you need to start taking meds yourself (and maybe you do!), or be put in the hospital. Do they keep getting in trouble with the law for DUIs, shoplifting, possession/selling drugs, or other offenses expecting you to bail them out and pay for a lawyer? You may feel like you can’t take it any more or you will lose it. Think you are going crazy? Everything you are feeling is normal! You are not going crazy! You are not a bad parent! It isn’t your fault! But there’s something you need to hear.
Take a minute to step back and look at what you are doing. Are you “helping” or enabling your child in any way? Are you doing things for them that they can and should be doing for themselves? I know fear drives you to feel like you have to, and this is much harder if they are under 18. You do have more responsibility then, but you still don’t have to do as much for them as you probably are. I know. I did that, too. (sometimes still do!) My fear drove me to get overly involved. But I have come to realize that when I do, it just makes me feel even more crazy and it doesn’t really help! It’s just insanity!
Al-Anon defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result!” Do you do that? What’s wrong with us? Let’s get smart and rethink how we are responding. Let’s strengthen ourselves so we can pull back and let them experience consequences and take some ownership of the situation they are in.
A book that is helping me do this is Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke (it is a great help even if your child is still a teenager!). You can purchase it at half.com for less $$! Bottke affirms that getting in a support group can really help us, because it is so hard to stop enabling without a lot of encouragement from others. One parent is usually weaker than the other and tends to give in more easily, so we need lots of outside help. Afterall, we don’t want to see them suffering, do we? It truly does hurt us much more than it hurts them. It really boils down to the fact that I have to trust God with my child. Sometimes that’s really hard to do.
If your situation is a real crazy-maker, what you can stop doing (or do differently) today that might help you begin to regain your sanity tomorrow? Just because your child isn’t in their right mind, doesn’t mean you have to lose yours! However, I can’t do this in my own strength. In my life I have needed to rely on God to give me the strength I was lacking. I like the Bible verse that says, “It is God who arms me with strength.” (Psalms 18:32) I don’t know about you, but I sure need it and I find it so reassuring to know that He will provide what I am lacking! No more insanity for me! What about you?