Are you investing in your child’s recovery or in their addiction?
I’ve spent a lot of years going through revolving doors of addiction with my daughter. Between rehabs, apartments, treatment options, and everything else you can imagine, my former wife and I have spent a fortune of money and, more importantly, precious time (years) trying to help her fight this devastating disease. We wanted recovery so bad for her that we were willing to do anything.
The problem was…she didn’t.
When our children are born we are entrusted with a divine gift. It’s our responsibility to care for them and provide them with everything they need. We have a very small window of opportunity to get certain things right before that window closes forever. If I don’t teach my son to shake 3 times after he pees when he’s 3, and he ends up being OK with that wet spot on his pants every time he leaves the men’s room, I’m not going to be able to help him when he’s 21. Many of us fall short of the mark and end up spending years upon years trying to get a mulligan. The more we try and fail, the more guilt we put in our sack and it becomes a game of chasing our tails.
Our children are evolving at the same rate we are and each moment is an opportunity won or lost. There are no do-overs. I’m not saying we should ever give up on our kids. On the contrary I believe we have a lifetime duty to lead them. I’m just saying that it’s important to understand that what works at 3, most likely, doesn’t work at 13.
When your child wanted to play with the can of draino at 2 and you said “no” did you give in after they continued to scream so loud the windows shook? I’m guessing probably not. If you did the DSS probably ended up raising your kids for you. Some kids would hold their breath until they passed out, some would throw tantrums and hurt themselves but you knew that was a better alternative than giving in and watching them chug a bottle of poison that was guaranteed to kill them.
Yet this is exactly what we do when we provide them with money, apartments, cars, and all the resources they need to keep using. I hear so many parents (including me) say things like “Yes but if I don’t give her money she might prostitute herself or steal or end up on the streets and get raped etc, etc, etc and I agree 100%.
She very well might do all those things and she might die. But if you continue to provide the draino, chances are much greater she probably will die.
In every situation, we have a choice. Sometimes none of those choices will get us to our desired outcome but one will always increase our odds over the others.
Our children do not belong to us, they belong to God and the universe. Our job as parents is to make the best choices we can in each moment gifted to us. When we fall short we learn from it and use that knowledge to make a better decision next time. We can’t go back and undo anything.
Life will continue with or without you. You can hang back in your guilt or you can move with it armed with your experiences.