3 Things Parents in Pain Need to Hear

When I was in so much pain from my 19 year old daughter’s destructive behaviors,  I thought I couldn’t bear it.  Death would have been easier — hers or mine!   Being the mom of  a child who was on the fast track to killing herself with alcohol, drugs, cutting (and other behaviors) I was consumed with every emotion – shock, guilt, fear, anger, grief and all the questions for which there were no answers.   Then I attended a conference for hurting parents and heard the 3 most wonderful statements that would ever help me.  They are known as ” The 3 C’s”  from Al Anon:

1)  You didn’t Cause it! (It’s NOT your fault – unless you encouraged them & aided them in their self-destruction!)

2)  You can’t Change it! (so stop trying – you’ll just make yourself crazy and them, too!)

3)  You can’t Cure it! (you can’t fix them – they have to want to get better.  You can’t force it on them!)

When I heard this it was like I had just put my feet in a cool mountain stream on an oppressively hot, humid day (like the stream in the photo –  it’s in Colorado!)  .  All I could think was, “Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”   These concepts were mind-boggling, yet so wonderful to hear.  Too good to be true and so freeing!

The statements were coming from a reliable source, a veteran parent who had been on this path a very long time (10 years).  He knew what he was talking about, so I could trust what he was saying.  I have repeated them to myself often in the 6 years since I first heard them.  They have helped me keep my feet on solid ground when my emotions tried to creep back in and deceive me again.

I think I like them so much because they address the lies we parents tend to believe.  We think these problems in our child’s life must be our fault – if we were a better parent this would never have happened; we should have done this, we should have done that, we should have . . . Hog wash!  No parent is perfect!  Our children make their own choices!

We think we have the ability to fix them, to change them , to make it all go away.  Oh how I wish this were true.  We just aren’t that powerful!  I’m afraid it’s just not that easy.  We can’t change them any more than we could change a daisy into a rose, or a walnut into an almond.  We can’t do it!

We think we have some control over their lives.  In reality, control is an illusion.  We have none!  Get used to it!  Accept it!  You’ll begin to relax and do a whole lot better when you do!  I did!  I may not be in control, but I believe Someone else is and that He has complete control over everything!  So I can trust Him and rest in this truth.

I believe God is the only one who can change, fix or cure anyone!  So, I have made the decision to stop thinking it’s all up to me and get out of the way so He  can work.

You can go to:  al-anon.alateen.org for more great information from this wonderful world-wide organization.  Their principles can help you with any problem you have no control over, not just alcoholism.

The conference I went to is called “You’re Not Alone” and they also have a great website:  notalone.org  You can even  listen to sessions from their conferences.

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2 thoughts on “3 Things Parents in Pain Need to Hear

  1. Bible
    Alanon literataure
    Celebrate Recovery literature
    Library books especially “Hope” by Emily Marlin always remembering that any idiot can write a book, but any book can have at least one bit of wisdom that is important for your journey today.
    Family Counseling
    Group Support
    Prayers that God would send the right people at the right time
    Writing all the things I was afraid of and then starting a list of all the blessings I have TODAY and adding to it every day.
    You can not fix your child but you can heal yourself and in doing so become a person your child can trust to demonstrate hope EVERY DAY.

    • Jann,
      Thanks so much for your comments. Reading your list encouraged me a lot. I really like Alanon literature, too. I read out of their books nearly every day. Celebrate Recovery is so good, too! I have not read Emily Martin’s book yet, but will have to put it on my reading list. I can always benefit from someone else’s wisdom – I need all I can get from others. And yes, yes, yes about praying God will send the right people at the right time. Boy, have I seen this in my own life. That thought is sending me on a journey of reflection over all the ways I have experienced this. It’s amazing. I think many will read your comments and be encouraged to learn how to heal themselves like you have. May you continue to inspire others to become the kind of person that shows hope to their child everyday!