For the Family & Loved Ones

How to Stay Close with Your Struggling Child

how to stay close with your child struggling with addiction

How to Stay Close with Your Struggling Child

Thu, 25 Nov 2021 15:58:54 +0000

This article originally appeared on: you confused as to whether you should stay close or let go?

Do you want to stay close but worry that you are enabling your son or daughter?

There is a lot of advice out there, the most common being to let go and detach when your child struggles with substance use. But your child may have the best chance of changing their life when you instead compassionately stay close.

Letting go can be harmful.

When you’ve had enough of your child’s negative behavior, letting go sounds tempting.

Yet, when you let go of your child’s issues too soon,  you also let go of your influence.

Many in recovery have said that they decided to change their life because of their family. A parents’ continued influence can help motivate your child to want to change.

When you take the time to get to the root of the problem, your child may begin the process of changing their life.

You may hear the message to let your child hit rock bottom, yet too many have not bounced back from being left to deal with the problem on their own. Staying connected is safer and will give you a better chance that your child will change.

There may be times when you feel like a pot boiling over. Many parents do because dealing with a child suffering from substance use is very, very hard. It is more beneficial for all concerned to talk to your child in a positive way. Look for what they are doing well, and do what you can to make a negative situation as positive as possible.

Anyone concerned about their child struggling with substance use needs strategies that they can work on independently. Parents need simple, easy-to-learn helpful tools. That way, you feel more confident in dealing with the issues that your son or daughter presents. That is part of digging in and being part of the change process.

Parents help when they change.

You probably feel that their child has a problem and needs help. As parents, we need to get regular support along the way as well. While it is not your fault that your child turned to drugs or alcohol, we all have a role to play as family members.

Parents are the leaders and role models of the family. When you work to sort out the root of the problem, your inner feelings, and how you can best help your child, you will begin the process of healing as a family.

According to Krissy Pozatek, author of The Parallel Process; Growing Alongside your Adolescent or Young Adult Child in Treatment,

From a family-system’s perspective, the home won’t change unless the parents also examine their contributions to the discordant parent-child dynamics. Many parents have been so entangled in their child’s struggles for years, they’ve assumed certain roles: rescuer, lecturer, fixer, enabler, or yeller. Others have shut down emotionally and withdrawn, avoiding the home, averting conflict, and incessantly looking for distractions.

Rather than watch from the sidelines, what helps the most is when parents get involved. Your fear and guilt might bubble up but do your best to stay with your feelings. You will find yourself less anxious and powerless. You will realize that there are things that you can do that can make the situation better.

Be a better listener.

Studies show that most of us don’t listen because we think about what we will say next. Your child wants you to listen to him. Rather than trying to solve their problems, take time to listen to what they have to say.

Often arguments start because our kids become defensive and resentful that our conversations so often revert to the same repetitive theme. You may be uncomfortable hearing your child’s feelings and thoughts. You may also be so used to jumping in and fixing your child’s problems. We’ve all been there, so know that you are not alone.

To break the pattern, try this approach. Take time to reflect on what you hear your child saying. When you use reflection, it helps to understand the anxiety and fear that your child expresses. Your child feels heard, and you have a better chance that the anger, defensiveness, and confrontation will subside.

Some examples of how you can reflect on what you’ve heard are to say:

“I see that you are upset.”“So you’re saying that…”“You feel that we don’t listen to you.”“It sounds like you are feeling angry about the situation.”

You can either repeat your child’s words or reflect the feeling of your child’s words. And maybe you’ll get it wrong, but your child will sense that you are trying to understand them better.

The 20 Minute Guide’s states:

As well as communicating that you understand what your child is saying, reflections make sure you actually do understand what she is saying–or if you get it wrong, that you are trying. Reflecting is not necessarily agreeing, but it is being willing to hear how your child sees things, instead of immediately countering. Reflective listening helps a discussion go forward, even or especially after you’ve hit a red light.

If you feel that you are getting further estranged from your child or think that every conversation ends up in an argument, try using reflections for a week and see if things change for the better.

Reflections are part of positive conversations. Positive conversations will help you stay close to your child and give you a better chance they will listen to you. That will lead you further down the path of change.

What helps you stay close to your struggling child?

Thank you for reading! Learn research-based tools that can help you motivate your child to change. Add the Sunday newsletter to your weekly routine. Sign up now.

And consider getting access to my online course, Regain Your Hope, an online system that gives you an action plan to help your child. Know that your child can change. Love, Cathy

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