Hurting Parents Can Cope

When you feel like you are losing it because of your son or daughter’s behaviors and choices how do you cope?  What do you do to keep your sanity if your child is struggling with alcohol, drugs, self harming behaviors, suicide, same sex identity issues, or a mental illness?  How do you regain your emotional capacity to simply keep going?  Where do you turn when you want to quit?  How do you hit the “refresh” button for your heart and soul?  Don’t you wish you had one?  I do!

Writer Oswald Chambers said, “God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.”  Overcoming.  That’s what I am thinking about.  How can we do that when we feel so overcome, so overwhelmed?  The dictionary defines “to overcome” as: suceeding in dealing with a difficulty or problem; prevailing over, getting on top of or conquering; to win a victory over.  That’s it!  My goal is to overcome these things, not BE overcome by them!  So, back to the question of how we can cope.

Here are 6 ways to cope when feeling overcome by negative emotions:

1)  Be honest – with yourself, with God our wonderful Counselor, with your family and close friends; don’t keep this trial a secret – it will only get harder on you and you desperately need support.  Begin to face the frightening possibilities.  Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself how you feel.  Write it down in a journal and talk about it with a trusted friend, and with God.  There is real healing power in saying these things out loud, too.

2)  Pray, pray and pray some more.  Keep believing in the power of prayer.  There’s no magic formula, but it CAN change things.  Bring your child and your pain to God and leave it all in his hands.  He can handle it.  He will always answer – yes, no or wait.  He is the great Comforter and is the only one who really understands exactly how you feel, and what you are going through.  So talk to him!  Tell him you want to trust Him to walk you through everything that happens.  He’s listening and He cares more than you can imagine!

3)  Name your pain – are you aware of what you are feeling?  Or are you confused?  Maybe you just know you feel really bad;  anxious, worried, irritable, frightened, angry, upset & depressed.  Ask God to help you identify them.  Counselors say we have 4 main emotions – mad, sad, glad and scared.  Which one(s) are you feeling right now?  Take a minute and see if you can identify one or two.  Write them down.

4)  Join a support group or start one!  Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are two good choices.  They even have online groups!  Being with others going through the same thing is so comforting.  You can strengthen each other and be in a safe place to process your feelings.  If you would like to start one but aren’t sure how I would love to help you!  Send me a message and I will contact youthrough email !  My husband and I are available to coach anyone wanting to start a group.  If we can do it you can, too!

5) Calm down – take deep cleansing breaths; redirect your attention by focusing on something or someone else; do whatever relaxes you – make a list and post it somewhere to remind you to do those things!  Start doing them one by one.

6)  Prepare for the worst – think of what the worst thing is that could happen and face it.  Doing this desensitizes you if it should happen.  You have already felt the intensity and weight of those emotions and walked through them in your mind.  I did this and it really did help me!

My last suggestion is to pray and ask God to show you new ways to cope.  During this time work on making a list (I mentioned this above) of 20 things you can do to cope with your negative emotions.  Include things you like to do to distract you, relax you or comfort you.  Post it where you can see it (maybe on your bathroom mirror!) to remind you to begin doing them!  Experiment with them and see which ones work best for you!  Whenever you feel overcome by your emotions go get your list and use it!

In my next post I will tell you what some of the things are on my list!  The picture I used in this post is one of those things.  I like to go outside and enjoy nature.  This is one of my favorite places.  Lord, help us overcome instead of being overcome!  Teach us how to cope!

Two Bible verses that have helped me cope many times are:

Philippians 4: 6-7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I Peter 5:7  “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

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