If you’re 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? Are they abusing alcohol or drugs while living in your home? Are they refusing to take medication for depression or a mood disorder (i.e. bipolar)? You may feel like you need to start taking medication yourself (and maybe you do).
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’ll lose it. You may feel like you can’t bear it one more day. You may feel like you’re going crazy. Everything you’re feeling is normal. You’re not going crazy. You’re 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’ve been doing. Are you helping or enabling? Are you doing things for them they can and should be doing for themselves? I know fear drives you to feel like you have to, especially if they’re 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 I still do. Fear drove me to get overly involved, but I’ve come to realize that when I do, it only makes me feel even more crazy and it doesn’t really help. It’s insanity!
Al-Anon defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result!” We all do it. Let’s get smart and rethink how we respond. Let’s strengthen ourselves so we can pull back and let our child experience consequences and take some ownership of the situation they’re in.
A book that helped me a lot is Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke (it’s good even if your child is a teenager). It can be purchased at half.com for less! Bottke affirms that getting in a support group can help us be more courageous to stop enabling, because it’s very difficult to stop without a lot of encouragement. It’s painful to see your son or daughter suffer. It truly does hurt us much more than it hurts them. It really boils down to how much we trust God with our child. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s really hard to do. We have no guarantees of the outcome.
If your situation is a real crazy-maker, what can you stop doing today (or do differently) 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. I couldn’t make these changes in my own strength. I wasn’t strong enough. I had to rely on God for what I lacked.
This Bible verse is so encouraging: “It is God who arms me with strength.” (Psalms 18:32)
I don’t know about you, but I sure need God’s strength to do the hard things. How reassuring to know He will provide what I lack. No more insanity for me. What about you?