As a parent who not only has seen other parents with kids and addictions, I too, saw the issues first hand within my own home. Although these addictions were not to drugs or alcohol, they were still addictive behavior that had control over our daughter’s lives.
For many years I thought that if only I took more control of the situation, my kids wouldn’t be in those situations. So I fought harder to stop the addictive behavior. However, the more control I used, the more my kids were getting out of control. What was I doing wrong?
As much as we parents want to stop the addictive behavior, we can also become the empowerment of that behavior. You don’t necessarily have to have control over that specific addiction, but you can still try to control in other ways which is just as harmful.
So you may ask, “What kind of control are we talking about?” What if your teen abuses alcohol? You know for a fact that it isn’t coming from your home because you don’t provide alcohol. But let’s just say instead, you cut off all of their friends, you make them come home immediately after school, you force them to go to grandma’s house thinking they need to be around more family, or you show them tons of videos of what happens to those who drink.
In the end, what does all of this control do to your teen? They will follow all your rules and do what you say, but this also can lead to more risky behavior. They are good at sneaking, lying, and manipulating because honestly, they have an addiction. What was once a quick shot of whiskey, they now have to find more inventive ways to still get that buzz but hide it better. So, they pour it in their eye which leaves no smell or soak a tampon with vodka and insert that to get the high that they need without you ever knowing. Do you see where this is going?
What I have learned, which took me a long time, is that by not having control over my teen it led me to be even more controlling. I was trying to play the doctor, the psychiatrist, the addictive behavior warden and it got me nowhere but downhill. I realized that yes, my teen was in crisis, but I was in crisis too; the crisis of shame, denial, embarrassment, and excuses.
Each parent is different but in the end, we eventually come to that breaking point in which the control we thought we had becomes invalid and worthless. Why? Because as much as we love our teenager, we may not be the one that can help them. We have to allow someone else to step in from another perspective, someone who has way more knowledge and wisdom as well as counsel and really meet the needs of the teenager. And the best part, it releases us of that responsibility so that we can get the help we need as well as our teenager.
My kid’s behavior had to be addressed through a professional. It was only then that the issue could be faced head on and for me to learn where I needed help as a parent. I also came to the conclusion that from my own past experiences of being controlled by someone, this only hindered my healing in that area, leaving me susceptible to be over-controlling with my kids. In the end, that left an open door of destruction for our whole family.
Today, I am extremely thankful for God, good friends, and a good counselor to show me how my own past and present can determine my children’s future. I was able to make corrections along the way. From those changes, my children were able to see the transformation in me for the better which allowed them to also make a turning point for their own lives. Some issues aren’t completely resolved yet in their lives, but I am relying on the Lord to continue the healing that was started, not just for them but for our entire family.
It doesn’t matter what the addictions are – gambling, drinking, drugs, porn, self-harm, etc… You cannot win the battle if you try to be the only warrior in it. It takes a team. It takes strategy. It takes prayer and counsel as your foundation. The problems of addictions are way beyond what one or two people (meaning parents) can handle. Lean on others to support and pray for you. Pray and ask God to carry the burden and give you wisdom as to what you need to be accountable for. Don’t carry the weight of failure accusations. No one can grow from that. Move forward, love unconditionally, and seek guidance always.
In the end, you will find strength and encouragement from many sources and learn about loving and healing for yourself and your child. I know I have.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)