a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics - 5

Paramount in our lives are our children!
We know that one of the most important responsibilities we have is to raise our children in the way of the Lord. We are living in a society that makes no demands and expects no accountability. Please do not let that extend into your families.

We must teach agency and accountability. Then, though it may seem contrary to our responsibility, after we have taught them we must let them apply those teachings in their lives. If we have done our job in teaching them as we've raised them, then we have done our job. Now it is up to them to use that agency they have been given by our Heavenly Father, and then be accountable for their actions.

Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, is no respecter of persons, nor respecter of positions in a family.

If it's the oldest child we say "We were too hard on him."
If is the youngest child we say "We were too easy on him."
If it is the middle child we say "It was because he is the ---- well, the middle child!"

Just as the words addict and alcoholic are used interchangeably, when we are speaking about children the word is also interchangeable to include spouses, parents or siblings or other adults with abuse and accountability problems.

Position in the family is never the issue. Agency always is.

Boundaries = Rules = Commandments

Is there no other way to learn about choices/agency and accountability?

Our son had been addicted for many years before we realized it.
Next, once we realized it, we had to admit it. Over time things didn't improve. 

Troubles increased.

For several months the three of us went to psychologist to try to learn how we could all cope and work through this situation. We learned a lot, but no significant change took place in his behavior. After six months of weekly visits the therapist told our son that everyone was working hard at his recovery, except our son. 

Things continued downhill.

Finally he was arrested----again. This time he applied to Drug Court, a tough but fantastic opportunity available here in Southern Utah.

This step was probably the most important decision he could have made. It was his admission that he needed help. Drug Court gives tools to learn to be accountable, and gives him the incentive to stay the course, because if he fails to do so there are unavoidable results.

His agency is not removed. Each day he must make the choice if he is going to continue to choose well and make the wise decisions. And if he chooses not to, the consequence is fixed. Similar to the Lord's plan of agency.

While Not Curable - Definitely Controllable (but not by us)

His acceptance into Drug Court has provided us with the opportunity to learn more of what our son is going through; to come to grips with the facts that:

1. Addiction is a hideous disease, very often with genetic predisposition.

2. That while it is not curable, it is controllable. Just like many other diseases or illnesses.

3. It is extremely hard to control, even when the intentions are the very best. Addicts cannot overcome it on their own. God, the higher power, is there to help them when they are ready for that help.

4. But it will not happen one minute before they are ready, no matter how hard we try nor how badly we want it.

He attends a number of and a variety of meetings weekly, including group sessions, private sessions, reporting to the judge, LDS 12-step programs, and a variety of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as those geared to various other addictions.

There are many rules and responsibilities. They are required to become accountable in all aspects of their daily lives. 

Recovery is a life-style change. 

Recovery is a full-time, life-time effort.

It is important to note here, the addict must be ready to begin recovery and the one that must do the work. 

No matter how much we want to help, we cannot do it for them. 

We want to make it easier, but we must not. 

As stated in a previous post, we must memorize the following truth:

WE didn't causes it,
WE can't control it,
WE can't cure it.

It is also important to note that when recovery is taking place, the changes are not limited to the "recover-er."

We, as parents have spent years dealing with our child's situation. Years putting up with mental and emotional abuse, if not physical. Years being manipulated and lied to. Years of worry and sleepless nights. Years suffering guilt and anxiety. Years feeling that somehow, someway, we must be at fault.

As awful as it has been, we have become used to this way of life and this type of individual. People in recovery, although it is good, are people we don't know and are reaching levels we don't know how to relate to. As strange as it seems, we must adjust to the changes that are taking place in the life of our loved ones.

Next Post: Almost universally, when first coming together in a support group for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics, the reaction is "No, this is not for me." "My situation is different." "These are not my kind of people."

Keep Coming Back because you quickly learn ---

"We are all in this together."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics - 4

          Hard Questions and Hard Answers

"If we do not adequately discipline our children, 
society will discipline them in a way we may not like"
                                                       David O. McKay
Although they will probably never voice it, children want and need discipline.

We discipline our children because we love them and want them to succeed. Wise discipline reinforces the dimensions of eternal love. This reinforcement brings greater security into their lives.

We do our family members a terrible disservice when we do not hold them accountable for their own behavior. 

Or when things don't go the way they would like and we try to make things better. In fact we are taking from our loved one the opportunity to grow from their adversity.


Perhaps we should ask ourselves a few questions when we consider withholding accountability

Why am I doing this?

Am I doing it for my loved one or am I doing it for me?

Am I doing it to save my pride, image or reputation?  Or the family's?

Am I doing it because it is the easy way out, rather than confronting them with their behavior and its consequences?

What good am I doing for them?

What harm am I ultimately doing to them?

What should I be doing in this situation?

Whose fault is it that they are in this situation?

Who is responsible for getting them out of it?

What harm is it doing to you to be in this situation?

What is it doing to or for your relationship with them?

What are we teaching them about agency when we try to ease or remove their accountability?

And ask yourself this question,
"Who is going to help them when I am no longer able to, and they haven't learned to do it for themselves?"

When will they learn to grow? If we enable them now, when will they learn to be accountable for their choices? When will it be too late for them to learn? 

The VERY BEST HELP you can give your loved one is: 

let them be responsible for their actions ---let them be accountable.

  • We must let our loved one learn to be accountable by letting them be accountable.
  • We stifle them, we inhibit their growth when we try to ease them through the tough times they have created for themselves.
  • We cripple them by trying to or by removing the results of their actions.
Ordinarily, positive change will not occur until parents allow their children to experience the consequences of bad decisions.

The following is an excerpt from an Ensign magazine article.  The young man's name was changed.


Who are we helping when we enable, remove the accountability, of      our loved ones?
How is it a help?
How are we harming them?
Are we really doing it for ourselves?
What is the good we may do by constantly helping?
What is the harm?

Actions and inaction(s) really do affect others

When there is an addict or an alcoholic in your family you definitely know there is an effect. When there is a law breaker in the family you know you are affected. When a child, teenager or adult in the home chooses to be disobedient you know there is an effect on those around. 

But if there is not an immediate, personal effect, is there no accountability?

Another problem with having an addicted loved one in the home is the damaging creation of a "wedge." Whether done purposely (which is often the case) or inadvertently by the addict, their behavior often causes parents to become at odds on the best way to help their child. One may want to offer as much help as possible while the other may want to take a "hard line."Contention often is the outcome, driving the couple apart.


It needs to be understood that I am not saying you shouldn't be helping your children and one another with legitimate needs. Obviously not. That is always appropriate. I am talking about enabling in harmful, habitual decisions.

It is when they are misbehaving they need to be disciplined. They need to be held responsible for their actions/behavior.

The value of the word NO!
What is wrong with NO? We, our society, went through a time when parents didn't want to say the "N" word to their children. I never did figure that one out. I wonder if we are experiencing the fallout from that misguided time period. Many of us  indulge ourselves regardless of our ability to meet the consequences and then indulge our children. And then we or they don't know how to face the results of the decisions that were made.

The value of consequences.
Until they come to understand that there really are consequences for actions they will continue to choose to do wrong or make wrong decisions.

Good Choices = Good Results
Bad Choices = Bad Results

The Scriptures teach us about agency and accountability: When the Children of Israel proved to the Lord that they were going to continue to make stupid decisions he was done with them. They were on their own to face the consequences.

I think there is a parallel here. I think we would be terribly remiss to "carry" our children once they have shown they won't get it together until we make (or try to make)  them get it together.

We are not our children's friend, we are their parent. We must be a friendly authoritarian. While we need to be accessible, lovable, merciful and fair, we must be the authority. The friendship part comes later.

Sometimes, even when it is not their fault they need to fix it, and work it out for themselves. To get through the adversity, to grow from the experience. We deprive them when we fix it for them.

Adversity is a necessity. We must not try to take that away from our family.

No one will learn if we don't let them. What lesson are we teaching when we take away our loved one's accountability?

We do not have the power to redeem our children from their poor choices.

People want to make choices and then they also want to choose the consequences, that is human nature.

We do a terrible disservice to our children, both young and old, when we take from them their accountability, the consequences of their actions.

When we remove any part of agency, including accountability, we are endorsing Satan's plan of taking from us our agency.

Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, is no respecter of persons, nor respecter of position in a family. I will address that, and our efforts with our son, next Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics - 3


even when we have done our best to teach our children to choose wisely, when they are old enough to follow a path, 
even when it is the wrong path, 
they are old enough and know enough to make that choice.

They were, and are, responsible beings, responsible for the course THEY pursue, the lives THEY live and the deeds THEY do.

This is how THEY CHOOSE to use their agency.

THE CONSEQUENCES of their choice.

Before we get in to today's post we are repeating the warning from a previous post

What have we learned so far?

We have learned that agency is the Lord’s eternal plan.

We have learned that accountability is an integral part of that plan. There cannot exist choices without consequences. To try to separate them is Satan’s plan, not God’s plan.

So what is our responsibility in the agency/accountability aspect of the Lord’s plan?  I see it as two-fold:

First and obviously, we must make this concept live in our own lives.

Second, we must teach our children accountability.

There are four words which may be interchangeable in this discussion and I’ll use each of them:
Accountability (obviously)

We must teach our children from a young age that they must be responsible for their actions. From the breaking of family rules to the breaking of family standards to the breaking of laws to the breaking of the commandments.

We must begin to teach them at an early age. In fact the teaching should begin as soon as they are able to understand. Thus it becomes a part of them. I realize that our expectation of a two-year-old is not the same as a six-year-old or a twelve-year old, but each is capable of learning at their own level of understanding.

I assure you, the longer we wait to teach them the more difficult will be the task. We should not wait until they are eight-years-old or teenagers or, in way too many cases, until they are well into adulthood to teach them. If we do so we have given ourselves and our children an onerous task.

How will our children learn accountability if we do not teach them and if we do not hold them accountable for the things which they do or fail to do?

The Lord has given us that responsibility:

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:40
But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

How do we teach our children this concept?

We teach them by setting boundaries, establishing rules, having expectations, and making our children adhere to these rules, etc. When they fail to comply, there must be consequences. We are not doing our children any favors when we fail to hold them responsible for their actions, or in many cases, in-actions.

Previously we gave you the alarming message from Dr. Ray Johnson, PhD, a clinical counselor and professor at North Texas State University: It is worth repeating.

“The most prevalent form of child abuse in this country is the failure of parents to discipline* their children.”

*Too often we think punish when we see or hear the word discipline. The Webster’s Dictionary defines discipline as training that develops self-control, character, orderliness, efficiency,obedience, and acceptance of authority.

And it is worthy of our consideration!  Have we unintentionally fallen into this category?

We must teach our families the accountability of agency and we must let them experience the consequences of improper choices or we are cheating them.

In fact, whose plan are we following when we remove or try to remove our loved one’s accountability?

Do we try avoid to it for ourselves by making someone else responsible for our actions?

To try to avoid accountability or to try and remove accountability for someone else is contrary to the Lord’s plan.

You know we cannot redeem or remove from our loved ones the consequences of their actions. That is not within our power.

If we don’t teach them and let them be accountable, all we are doing is postponing the inevitable. For they are learning habits and traits which they will some day have to pay for. Because ultimately, they cannot avoid the consequences for their actions.

It may seem to you that it is a hard thing to teach young children to be accountable for their actions.

It does require effort and time on our part.

I assure you, it is a much harder thing to try to teach them when they are  teenagers or adults.

Tomorrow* we will tackle the HARD QUESTIONS AND . . .THE HARD ANSWERS.

Please “hang in there” and keep coming back.

*Dave and I have made two important decisions.  

1. We feel that if this material is needed by you and helping you we need to bring it to you more than once a week. Beginning today we will post "Help" Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  

There will be 8 more posts, followed by a final wrap up with updates, insights, and final observations from Dave.

2. The end of the "Help" series will also signal the end of The Creative Cheapskate.   The time has come for me to move on to other "adventures" and responsibilities. 

I have written almost 400 posts on a wide variety of subjects. I hope they have been helpful, useful and, hopefully at times, even enjoyable. I have learned a lot as I have tried to help you.

Since the net is full of zillions of resources covering many of the same or similar subjects that I have covered  I know I am definitely not leaving anyone "hanging."  Whatever help you need on whatever subject you need help with, that help is there with just a few strokes in the search box. 

The Creative Cheapskate has had over 25,000 "hits."  I don't know exactly what that means or how it is determined but I am grateful for what I take it to mean---that my offerings have been beneficial to some of you, wherever you are throughout our wide, wonderful, world. 

Keep the faith. Keep up the good works that you are doing. Keep putting one step in front of the other, and most importantly, keep picking yourself up if you stumble. 

And please, 

Always Remember. . .

Each of you is a child of our Heavenly Father. He knows you. He loves you. He is with you every step of your way.  All you need to do is 
  • simply acknowledge Him, 
  • simply pray to Him,
  • simply seek Him, 
  • simply try to do your very best, taking one step at a time, even when it is hard and discouraging. 
  • simply turn your life and your burdens over to Him,  

It really is that simple, I promise.

You are doing a great work. 

Don't beat yourself up, don't let anyone else beat you up, and don't let the world beat you up. 

Thanks for "listening"  to me these past 33 months.

It has been fun.

I  am, and will continue to be, Simply, Gail