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, March 7, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics - 8

You give, they take . . .

Sometimes they demand and you give

We were shocked to learn that when we help someone do something they should be doing for themselves there 
is resentment.

What's the shock? Of course we resent it!

Actually the shock is --- there is also resentment on the part of the receiver, not that they would ever admit it, because they will take whatever they can get.

How is That?

From our perspective it doesn't make sense that there is also resentment on their part. But, you know what,  we have learned that there is little about the workings of an addicted brain that makes sense.

They take --- and they resent you for giving --- for the implication is that they can't do it themselves.

Isn't that what we are saying when we take on their accountability, that the individual can't do it on their own?

Does it mean they can't make it on their own,
OR we think they can't make it on their own,
OR they perceive we think they can't make it on their own?

Resent on both sides.

That is how!

Just This One More Time!

(and again, you know that we are not talking about the responsible family member who may have an occasional emergency arise.)

Maybe I have said this before ... There is a very real tendency for us to say, at least to ourselves, "If I help them just this one time, or one more time, this will be what they need to get them over the hump, started in the right direction."

In our family group meeting, we were shown a segment of an episode of "The Simpsons."

Bart, as usual, has caused problems, and has been sent to bed without supper. He isn't worried. 

Time passes and he is getting hungry.

More time passes and all the lights go out.

Now he is worried. His parents have always relented before.

He is hungry!

And he is very worried, realizing that the time appears to have finally come that he is going to have to shape up.

The very next instant, his door opens and his dad sneaks in with a plate of pizza and an admonition of love and "I know you will try to do better..."

Bart thanks his dad profusely and, after the door closes, adds---


We are down to just a couple more "sessions."   I hope we are giving you a little insight and a little help.  

Until next time please remember, we have been there and we have done that.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts or Alcoholics - 7

Do we agree that our family is our greatest responsibility?

Then, this is the time we must again ask the hard questions:
What is, in the long run, the very best thing for my child?

Is it better to bail them out of jail or let them do their time?

Is it better to pay their debt or let them be responsible for it?

Is it better to pay their rent or buy them food because they choose to spend their money on drugs or alcohol, or just overspend on frivolous stuff, or lose their job because of irresponsibility, or because they are in no condition to hold down a job or-----

let them find their own way out of their own problem?

Which of these choices best teach them? 

What do we tend to do?

How often do we start trying to solve their problem for them?

The hard answer to the hard questions is one of compassion and concern. It is the answer of unconditional love: When our loved one comes to us with a situation they have gotten themselves into we need to respond (and this can be stated simply,  calmly and kindly):

"That is a problem. . .what are you going to do about it?" or ". . . How are you going to handle it?" or ". . . I know you will be able to figure out what to do."

It is not the easy thing to do but it is the right thing to do, the necessary thing to do.

Trust me when I say that my tongue has been very sore from biting it so hard to keep from stepping in or stepping up. 

Before you say, "But my case is special. We are not like that. My child is going to turn their life around when I help them this one more time," let me say, Don't bet the farm on it!

So, where is the caring and loving parent in this? Where is the Christianity in this?

Again, the question we need to ask is, 

"What is the best thing I can do for my loved one?" 


"What is the best thing for me as well?"

Our next post will address the surprising  truths about resentment "How is That?"

Until then, I want to leave you four things to think about:

1. If our addicted loved one asks us to go to their dealer to buy them some drugs would we do it?

2. If our addicted loved one asks us to drive them to their dealer so they could buy some drugs would we do it?

3. If our addicted loved one asks us to loan or give them money so they could go and buy some drugs would we do it?

4. If they ask us to bail them out of jail so they could go use drugs would we do it?

When we provide them with a place to live, food to eat, a car to drive, or make payments for them, aren't we, in fact, freeing up their money so they can go buy drugs?

"Tune in" tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics - 6

It is common for those suffering from alcohol and other addictions 
         to claim that they are hurting no one but themselves.


Gail and I attend a support group made up of the family members of addicts and alcoholics, most of which are clients of Drug Court. In this group we learn coping skills and the correct actions and reactions to the many situations we face. Al-Anon and Alateen are similar groups, also offering help and support for family members of addicts.

Almost universally, the reaction after attending the first meeting or two is, "No, this is not for me." "My situation is different." "These are not my kind of people." If they keep coming, it doesn't take very long to see all that is offered---support, understanding, education, strength, help and love.  Again, addiction is no respecter of persons, and we really are those kind of people.

Just as addicts cannot heal themselves on their own; these various groups are available to help family members heal themselves. We strongly encourage you to seek them out.

The Learning Curve

The most often heard laments we hear from newcomers at the family group we attend go like this, "It's my baby." "It's my  child." "I have to help them."

And the most common way the parent chooses to help is---to remove some or all of the consequences from their child. This is not helping! Again, removing consequences, "rescuing" our loved ones from the consequences of their actions, is not helping them!

It is ENABLING them!

Until our children learn that they must be accountable for thier own actions, that someone else is not going to pick up the pieces for them, they will continue to make poor choices. (Poor is a euphemism for dumb or stupid.)

Another often heard explanation for bailing their child out of a jam is this. "If I help them just this one more time, if I get them out of just one more jam, they'll learn their lesson and their life will turn around." We truly want to believe that but . . .

overwhelming statistics tell us that is not going to happen.

Until they have to pay the price for their own actions they'll continue in their way---an almost 100% guarantee.

A recovering addict, who is also part of our family group in support of his fiancee' said, "I would not face my own problems as long as there was someone else to take care of them for me. It was not until I ran out of options, not until I was literally sleeping in the alley and diving in the dumpster for food, that I became responsible to find my own solution."

The mother of this same young man finally (after many years of bailing him out) told him, "I'm sorry I never let you have the privilege of failing."

Think of the significance of that statement. It is profound.

"I'm sorry I never let you have the privilege of failing."

These important principles apply not just to the addicted but to all those who, through their own poor decisions, have put themselves in a jam.

This does not mean that we can't help our kids while they need our help on occasion. We are referring to those who seem to habitually get themselves in a spot and we, the parents keep bailing them out.
For them the cord needs to be cut, for their good as well as ours.

The Dilemma*

We, as well-meaning parents seem to have a dilemma. It is strongly stressed over and over that our family is the greatest responsibility we will ever have. 

And that we are to love unconditionally. 

Both are true. 

So how do these equate to letting our child go to jail? Or letting them pay their own debts, or letting them go homeless.

Try dropping off your child at a homeless shelter some day. We did. And boy, did it hurt! (But we couldn't let him know that.)

*Dilemma: any situation in which one must choose between unpleasant alternatives

The next post will address this dilemma.