For those of you reading this whose child has gotten out of control, or who feel as if s/he is about to do so, and who have contemplated acting for some time but haven’t admitted that you are in over your head, or have tried everything from therapy to grounding to taking away the phone, the computer, the door to the child’s room, here are some thoughts:
Your child is begging you to STOP her from doing what she’s doing. He doesn’t want to be the pivot point around which the entire family spins, a family whose every action must take her and her reaction in account. He doesn’t want to control your lives.
She can’t believe she’s getting away with her defiance and other actions that are covering up her pain, and she will [believe me] actually be relieved when she doesn’t have to do that anymore.
Will the situation get better if you wait? In my experience, if your call reflects something like the situations above, the downhill path is irreversible as long as the child is at home. The best of parents have tried, but nothing short of an intervention has had any effect on the child. More rules, fewer rules, getting tougher, giving in, regular therapy – nothing seems to work.
Whose fault is it? The devil’s question. A multiplicity of factors is at work, from how the parents were raised to the tensions in the home to the Golden Child sibling to the school to society’s collapse to the friends to the hormones of adolescence and beyond. Parents tend to beat themselves up, and sometimes blame each other, rather than seeking help.
When our older child, age 28, called from the county jail with a first-offense felony possession of crystal meth – a stunning surprise to us – I called a consultant colleague [and contacted a good lawyer] and, with her willing consent, she began a program the next week. Holly and I are working as hard as she is to insure openness and health in the future. Several years [and a second mortgage later, which the kids can inherit] she is healthy, self-sufficient emotionally and financially, goes to AA meetings regularly, has worked full time as a Mentor in a therapeutic program, and graduated from Nursing School with all A's in June 2012. She is happily married to Jason, and they have a son, John, born in October 2010.
What we found is that she was teaching us about what she needed, and what we needed in our own lives. In your journey with me and your child, you will make similar discoveries that will change your life, as well as your child’s, FOR THE BETTER. “Whose fault?” Wrong question. “What can we do?” Now we’re talking. LET’S GET STARTED.