Consider the commercial where a young man says he is never going to get married, never going to have children, never going to move to the suburbs, and never going to drive a van. At the end we see him lying on the couch in his suburban home with his wife and two young children all snuggling together; he says “I’m never going to let go”. This is an excellent example of how becoming a parent changes your heart, your belief system and your life plans. If we fast forward the commercial 25 years and see one of his children living back home and suffering from addiction, he would probably say he is never going to let his child get arrested, thrown in jail or die.
Parental bonds of loving, protecting and providing for our children run deep; even when our offspring are adults. Parents are often empty nesters who are working hard on their future retirement. They worked hard at helping their children become strong, independent adults. Instead, parents are terrified their child is going to end up dead from the addiction that has robbed her of everything.
What’s a parent to do!? Trying to determine what is helpful and what is enabling is complicated especially when you combine it with mama and papa bear whose instinct is to protect and care for him or her.
It’s easy for others to say, “don’t enable,” but that might seem like you would be throwing your child “under the bus”. Deciding to no longer give your child money is fraught with all they might lose. Deciding to feed them however, is nurturing and can provide the opportunity to spend time with your son/daughter.
Figuring out how to hate the disease yet love your child is not easy. There is help and support out there.