When a Parent Needs to Love their Child at a Distance

Have you been caught in the middle of a storm with your son or daughter that feels like it will never be over? The phone calls in the middle of the night; collect calls from jail to bail them out one more time; repeated hospitalizations; endless medical bills; crisis after crisis. Have you found yourself in a situation where its really not healthy for you to be too involved in your child’s life anymore?

fall15Maybe they struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol (or something else); a mental illness or brain disorder, or with self-injuring behaviors (cutting or an eating disorder); a same-sex attraction; or are constantly in and out of trouble with the law.

You’ve done everything you knew to do. You’ve tried hard to rescue them, save them, change them and fix them – but nothing worked. You’re stuck in a never-ending storm. You feel like you can’t take it any more.

What do you need? (besides for your child to be okay) You need the serenity that comes from learning to love your child from a distance. Serenity isn’t the absence of a storm, it’s peace in the middle of it.

How do you get peace in this kind of situation with a son or daughter that’s making you crazy? How do you love them, but not so closely?

You. Step. Back. – With God’s help.

You. Distance. Yourself. From. Their. Drama. – In God’s strength.

You. Let. Go. of. Over-Involvement.

When you do, healing won’t happen overnight. It takes time. When they’re ready to “be done” it will take time for them to heal, too.

A dad I know, who understands what this is like, has some great words of wisdom. Here are a few of his “golden nuggets”. Take what you like and leave the rest.

“Detachment – stepping back – seems stern and unkind, but it’s really loving them. It allows consequences. Without that they’ll never want to change. Why should they when we keep helping them?”

“Don’t quit living your life. This can ruin your marriage and your whole life. Protect yourself. Keep doing what you enjoy. Go fishing, go camping, bike riding, play tennis, play golf; enjoy your hobbies; go to the movies; go on vacation. Live your life or they will take it from you.”

“Trust God enough with your child to make tough decisions – like not helping them out of a tough situation.”

“Let pain do its work.”

“Remember this, your child DOES love you, even if they say they hate you. It’s not really them talking – it’s their disease; their selfishness and sinfulness that’s blinding them. If they’re an addict, they’re not themselves any more.”

“Trusting God is hard for us as parents and for our children, too.”

“God can take the addiction (or whatever they struggle with) from your child. He can change them. It’s not too hard for him. He does this every day.”

Be encouraged by these words from God’s heart to yours:

“Great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 108:4, NIV)

He’s reaching out all the way through time to your child. Oh, that today would be the day they respond and let Him help them.

God, help the hurting parent reading this to have the courage and strength they need to step back, detach, stop helping so much, and let go, so that they can get their lives back. Help them find serenity in their storm. Show them the way and lead them gently to the peace they need. Help them find it a little more every day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

A very helpful book is: Codependent No More, Melodie Beattie


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “When a Parent Needs to Love their Child at a Distance