Liking Our Addicted Child

Adult daughter and aged mother after quarrel at home. Focus on young

Contributor: Candace Sindoris, LCSW, CACIII, Counseling Services, Fort Collins, Colorado

As parents, we love our children; but how many of us can truly say that we like our addicted children? Traveling the destructive path that addiction brings can be extremely difficult for all involved.

Becoming Disconnected

As we walk and stumble along this path, our goal is to nurture, support and love all those affected by addiction’s devastation. We accomplish this through treatment and education, where trained professionals provide guidance toward recovery.

This process can be very positive and proactive in addressing the addiction, but how do we redevelop the like of the child?

We are taught to love our children –forever and unconditionally. After all, we brought them into this world and they are our responsibility as parents. But what happens when we as parents begin to realize that we no longer LIKE our child?

S/he is no longer the child of our dreams; the child we longed for and prayed to have; the child that was going to have a great future. Instead, s/he is doing things that we cannot comprehend – lying, stealing, prostituting . . . things to which we cannot relate, much less understand.

A Winding Road

Each of us makes our life decisions for our own specific reasons – to learn more about who and what we are and which direction we would prefer to grow. At times, these decisions are complex and the road becomes messy, disappointing, hurtful or completely obscured.

If we persevere the way eventually becomes clear to us once again. It is the same for our child. We must provide guidance and leadership to help the child learn how to return to a positive, non-destructive path. Although the child appears unlikeable, it is imperative that we try to view him/her in a different light as a different being in order to offer support and help. By doing so, we can make the journey less difficult for all involved.

Mother and daughter on tablet computerYou don’t have to LIKE your addicted child; but please don’t begin to HATE either yourself or the child. It is easy to discard the difficult and unknown rather than face the fear.

FEAR is the one of the most devastating emotions. What we do with it can define and control us. It can lead us to blame and humiliation as parents and as people.

Taking The Necessary Steps

So what can we do? How can we get past the addiction “results” and move toward health and wellness? First and very importantly, we begin a step at a time towards the Serenity Prayer to “accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

If we as parents begin to understand the things that are within and without our control, we can begin to feel differently and become healthier in our choices regarding our behaviors as well as those of our addicted child. We will realize that our health is a priority and take actions to choose that direction through seeking out supports, meditation, relaxation, etc.

Secondly, the acceptance of ourselves will enable us to be healthier to provide the needed boundaries that our addicted child requires. We can put trust in ourselves that our decisions will promote positive responses and direction to help guide the addiction process toward recovery.

Finally, placing the emphasis on our own wellbeing will contribute to our being able to provide a healthier and more positive outlook on our relationships and emotional balance.

Start With Yourself

Portrait of attractive young woman gazing positivelyAll of the negativity that surrounds addiction can be diverted toward a more positive end. When you realize that you can change into a more accepting, healthy, and confident person, you will also begin to recognize that your child can make positive changes.

And that the choices and changes are up to him/her – not you. You can provide the opportunity catalyst for change, but s/he must be the actual change agent.

What can you do? Learn to LIKE yourself first – then the comprehension of being able to LIKE your addicted child will develop! We all are different people at different times during our lives. . .good, bad and sometimes ugly. The recognition and acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses will provide an opening of understanding into the world of addiction and thus our child. This allows the opportunity to open our hearts, minds and souls to possibility of LIKING our child once again!

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Do you have experience with supporting a child suffering with addiction? What types of support have you offered, what worked well and what didn’t?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 15th, 2015
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