The most common question parents in pain ask themselves is WHY? My husband and I did the best we could to raise our daughter with a lot of love, with a strong sense of right and wrong, to be a good moral person, to not get caught up in any addictive behaviors, and to be an emotionally healthy, happy person. We also raised her with a strong spiritual foundation. Yet, she ended up with multiple addictions, was involved in self-harm and had a brain disorder(mental illness). I would lay awake all night torturing myself with many why questions.
What about you?
Many parents in pain are plagued by questions like these:
- Why did my son choose to abuse substances?
- Why did my daughter become anorexic or bulimic?
- Why were they drawn to the same-sex?
- Why did my son get involved in pornography?
- Why did my daughter need to burn herself?
- Why did they become depressed or develop a brain disorder?
As parents who feel a high sense of responsibility for our children, we also feel a high need for answers. Now. Irrational thoughts tell us if we just knew why, then it would help us make sense of things. We drive ourselves crazy analyzing and scrutinizing the past. Did we always do the right thing? Probably not. Should we have done ______ or ______? I don’t know. Did we set out to raise a child who would have any of these problems? Never. Because we love our children so much we have an insatiable need to answer our questions. We have a burning desire to try to understand how it could happen.
I have come to a conclusion. You may not agree with me, but I think all this why questioning is senseless. A waste of time. It doesn’t do any good. For most of us there are no clear-cut, decisive answers. Insights may come. Information might be revealed. Light could be shed that will help explain some behaviors. But, one former alcoholic and drug addict admitted, he began making his poor choices just because it was fun. He simply liked how it felt. No other reason. His parents had nothing to do with it. As the Bible says, sin is pleasurable for a season.
What we really need is – acceptance. Our goal should be to make peace with the ‘not knowing’ rather than understanding the reasons. We may never fully be able to understand why. It may be an unrealistic expectation. We have to let it go. Our child might not even understand why themselves.
Only God knows and He is able to give us His peace, with or without the answers we seek.
I like using the Serenity Prayer to help me stop asking why and move me towards acceptance:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.
A great book that helped move me toward acceptance is Hit By a Ton of Bricks by Dr. John Vawter. It’s full of invaluable information and stories of hope.