Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Easter is less than a week away. It’s a day of hope and new beginnings. But before the resurrection came the crucifixion—a lot of pain and suffering and betrayal and questions and mystery. Does that describe your life today?
Are you a parent who doesn’t feel very hopeful? Your child is struggling—a lot. Your story is complicated and way too long to tell in one sitting. You can’t help it—you feel hopeless.
Your son may be incarcerated or have a drug/alcohol problem. Your daughter may have done much damage to herself, continuously inflicting wounds on her body. Mental illness and suicide attempts plague them. In and out of rehabs, their struggle never ends.
They’ve made countless terrible mistakes including marriages and same-sex relationships; now there may be grandchildren in the picture. Their struggles have brought you more brokenness and heartache than you ever thought possible.
Their troubles are breaking your heart. What is there to hope for now?
Photo cred. Farkul J
Today’s post is Part 2 of our interview with the mother of an addict. It’s a continuation from Monday’s blog on March 27th. I believe there are many things she shared that will be of great value to you.
- How did the experience of your son’s heroin addiction affect your marriage? What did you do? My husband and I initially approached our son’s addiction and self-destructive life-style on the same page. But over time, we realized that I was a bigger push-over and my husband was a bigger “tough love” proponent. This led to many disagreements and hurt our sense of oneness. In order to deal with this, we spent time (and still do) with other couples who have survived situations like this to receive their input. We also attended a support group for families who had children in outpatient therapy. This helped us realign our focus, prioritize our marriage and family life, and once again become a united front in the battle that threatened to destroy us. Since early in the journey Hope for Hurting Parents was a tremendous resource.
- How did this impact your other children? All of them are in therapy, working through the effects this has had on them. Each one responded differently. Some struggled with anger and feelings of betrayal (lying and stealing from them). Initially, our youngest felt she let her brother down and struggled with feelings of not having been able to help him. But, they were all willing to forgive him when he asked (during rehab) and they’ve been willing to work on rebuilding their relationship.
Today’s post is Part 1 of an interview with the mother of an addict. It is our hope and prayer that something she shares will help you on the journey with your child, even if you’re not dealing with addiction.
- What signs of trouble did you first notice with your son? I saw emotional fluctuations: extreme highs and lows. He was much more easily angered and increasingly isolated. He wanted to spend as little time as possible with the family.
- Is there anything you wish you had done differently? Yes, I wish we would’ve confronted him sooner with what we observed and asked him to move out of our home sooner, too. This was a scary thing to do, but in retrospect, he probably would have hit bottom sooner.
- Tell us a little about the journey with your child. Throughout high school our son was increasingly angry and hostile to us and to his siblings. By his senior year he dropped out of sports and was barely passing his classes. In his freshman year of college, he flunked classes both semesters and was expelled. The summer after that, he admitted he was addicted to pain killers. At that time we were moving to another state, so we invited him to come.
January of 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland, my husband, three children and I found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard. We had flown into town for two weeks of cross-cultural training to prepare for a year overseas. Staying at a retreat center outside of town, we were safe. Their staff provided us with shelter, plenty of food, warmth, and generators. Hoorah for those!
To our dismay, due to the snow storm, none of our luggage arrived. Thankfully, our new friends at the conference showed us compassion. When we asked for help they loaned us everything we needed, from underwear and shoes to a hair dryer. Ten days later our luggage finally arrived. Boy, were we happy to finally get our things.
As I type this blog there’s a huge blizzard barreling down on many states – many where you are. Deaths are being reported by the hour. Millions have been affected.
What message could a blizzard have for parents in pain whose children are making dangerous, destructive choices?
Parents who suffer over the destructive behaviors and choices of their teen to adult children long to find someone who can walk the lonely path with them. Alcohol, drugs, self-injury, eating disorders, mental illness, Same-Sex Attraction (SSA), gambling and video game addictions, incarceration, pornography . . . the list of troubles we might encounter is long. Saying them out loud to someone is incredulous. We shudder in shame. And so we hide.
We know. We’ve walked that path and feeling alone only made it worse.
Your pain is deep. You long for someone to share it with. If I don’t get this out, I think I’ll explode, may be your ongoing thought. But to whom do you entrust these intimate family details? Who will listen well, suspend judgement, and keep a confidence?
Try asking yourself, “Can they carry my suitcase?” What in the world does that mean?
This question comes from a story about a father of two daughters:
I didn’t know where to find help for my addicted, depressed daughter. What counselor should we take her to? How could I find one? What rehab should we send her to? Which one would be best for her unique needs?
I didn’t understand mental illness. What is bipolar – really? How does an anxiety disorder impact a person? How can I help when she has a panic attack?
I didn’t know why she cut and slashed her flesh. Was her life that bad? Did she want to die? Should I hide all sharp objects in our home or make her keep her door open?
I was scared she might take her life before her 21st birthday. Would I find her lifeless body in her room one morning? How do I sleep worrying about something like that?
I didn’t know if her problems were my fault. Was I really such a bad parent? What did I do to cause all of this? I was overwhelmed.
What would the future hold for her? What kind of life would she have? What were realistic expectations?
I certainly didn’t know if I could keep my sanity in the midst of so much heart break.
Was there anything I could know for certain? Anything helpful or encouraging?
Yes. I now believe there is. It took a long time, but I’ve come to see that there are two things I needed to know that could make a difference.
Do you live with a continuously rebellious son or daughter? I did. Events occur that took my breath away, made my stomach sink, filled my heart with fear and my mind with anxiety. Add to the mix, confusion from dealing with things I’d never dealt with before and not feeling prepared to handle them, could make a grown man crazy.
This was my life. In her late teens, I’d caught my daughter Renee in several lies. So, when she asked to go out at night, I couldn’t fully trust what her plans really were. I didn’t trust where she was, what she was doing or who she was with.
I’d built a set of knee jerk, verbal reactions to various things she would do.
*Today’s post is from Tom, a wise dad with much wisdom to share.
Parenting is hard work. It’s not for the fainthearted or the cowardly. Yet, it can also be the source of some of our greatest joys in life.
Many strong believers marry and plan for a family. They have great anticipation of bundles of joy, and a marvelous journey from infants to young, thriving adults. They bathe the entire process in prayer, even before birth, asking God for wisdom to parent and a good life for their much-loved child.
But then, in their child’s pre-teen or early teen years, warning signs begin to emerge.
Valentine’s Day is this Tuesday. For parents in pain over the behaviors and troubles of their kids, it can be a hard day. I know. I’ve been there. I understand how it reminds you how much you love your child – and how much you’ve lost.
Valentine’s Day also reminds me of the greatest love of all. The love of God and the love he has for all people.
Listen to what the Bible says about this love: “By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. BUT God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life . . .” (Eph. 2: 3b – 5b, NIV).
It’s spectacular. Indescribable. Marvelous.
I could go on and on listing superlative adjectives to describe how the above verses make me feel. I find great comfort here.
Without Christ, your child is an object of God’s anger; the focus of his wrath. Your son. Your daughter. They’re on their way to eternal doom. They’re in grave danger, headed for destruction,
BUT . . . God stepped in and did something most unexpected.
photo cred. manos bourdakis
Yesterday my husband and I participated in an Out of the Darkness Walk, a fundraiser sponsored by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (afsp). It got me to thinking . . . are you the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with depression and hopelessness? Have you ever said, “I’m tormented by not knowing if they’re safe”? Do you have an uneasy feeling something’s wrong, but can’t put your finger on it? Have you ever heard your child say, “I feel so worthless. What’s the use. My life doesn’t matter. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up”? If so, this is for you.
The information here could be crucial for you and your child’s well-being. It’s from The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website. These are the warning signs that may mean a person is a suicide risk. The danger is greater when one of these behaviors is new, has increased or could be related to a painful event, loss, or change.
Should your child exhibit any of these, please seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained, volunteer counselors are ready and available to talk with you or the despondent individual 24/7 including holidays.