Today’s blog is a re-post, updated, from September 2013.
If you’re a parent who’s hurting due to the self-destructive choices your child has made, or if your child suffers from a mental illness, you know these things can turn your life upside down. You begin to feel like you’re going crazy. If this is you, then you need this blog post.
Does your daughter have an eating disorder but refuses help?
Is your son abusing alcohol or drugs?
Do they keep getting in trouble with the law for DUIs, shoplifting, possession/selling drugs, or other offenses?
Do they expect you to bail them out and pay for a lawyer?
Do they refuse to take medication for depression or a mood disorder (i.e. bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.)? Have they struggled with suicidal thoughts or made attempts?
You may feel like you need medication yourself, that you can’t take it one more day or you’ll lose your sanity.
I want you to know you’re normal. You’re not going crazy. You’re not a bad parent. And it isn’t your fault. But there’s something else you need to hear.
Take a minute to step back and look at what you’ve been doing. Are you helping your child too much, enabling them? Do you do things for them they could and should be doing for themselves? I know fear drives us to feel like we have to, especially if they’re under 18. We do have more responsibility then, but we still don’t have to do as much for them as we tend to. I know. I did that, too, but I came to realize it only made me feel even more crazy and didn’t really help. It was insanity!
Al-Anon defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result!”
We all do it. Let’s get smart and rethink how we respond. We need to get stronger so we can pull back and let our child experience consequences, forcing them to take ownership of their situation.
A book that helped me is Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke (It’s a great resource even if your child is a teen. You can order her book here on our resource tab under the book list. It directly links to Amazon. We’re affiliates and make a small amount to benefit our ministry.)
Bottke affirms that being in a support group can help us be more courageous to stop our enabling. It’s very difficult to stop this bad habit without a lot of encouragement from others who understand. How painful to see your son or daughter suffer and do nothing to help. It hurts us far more than they’ll ever know. What it boils down to is how much we trust God. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s really hard, since He gives us no guarantee of the outcome.
If your situation is a crazy-maker, what can you stop doing that might help you regain your sanity? Just because your child isn’t in their right mind, doesn’t mean you have to lose yours. I couldn’t make these changes in my own strength. I wasn’t strong enough. I had to rely on God to provide what I lacked.
This Bible verse encouraged me: “It is God who arms me with strength.” (Psalms 18:32)
We must depend on God’s strength to do hard things – especially when it comes to our child. How reassuring to know He promises to provide what we need.