We've talked at length about parent's coping with the recent heroin epidemic and how it's ravaging high school students, many athletes with injures who begin their addiction with prescription drugs. But those aren't the only parents coping with a child with addiction. Parents of adult addicts face a different set of obstacles. As pointed out in Psychology Today, "If you are the mother or father of an adult child who is not making the choices that are necessary for a sound future, this can be a heavier burden than any of the earlier ones you carried. When your child was young and misbehaved, you probably knew how to discipline your child. Whether the effect was lasting or not, you probably felt that at least you were 'doing something.'"
In the article Seven Tips for Mothers of Adult Addicts, the hard truth that parents of adult addicts have to play by a different set of rules is affirmed. "As an adult, your child is no longer legally your responsibility, but you may actually feel an even heavier burden of social and emotional responsibility for him or her."
Some parents may even feel responsible for the mistakes their child has made and continues to make. If they had only done a better job, they may say to themselves. But the truth is, there is only so much you can do. And these seven tips will help you along the way. But first, remember these two essential truths:
1. We all make mistakes as parents. As the article points out, "Good parents are not perfect parents."
2. Once a child is an adult, the article points out, they have all the power they need in their lives to make smart decisions. Adults are responsible for their own actions, good and bad.
Seven Suggestions for Coping
1. It's your child's actions and behaviors that caused the circumstance, not yours. Your child needs to be reminded of that truth. Sometimes the best way is with an intervention, which lets your child know how their actions are affecting those closest to them.
2. You can help, but only offer to assist in a way that will not leave you broke. Offer help in a way that you can financially afford and will help your child toward a brighter future.
3. You cannot force someone into rehab, but you can make the suggestion. Whether or not they choose to go is their decision.
4. Know the difference between love and enabling. Give your support, but not in a way that lets them take advantage of you.
5. You cannot rescue anyone. That's something your child has to decide to do for themselves.
6. Take care of yourself and the rest of your family. As the article points out, "Not every adult child has to hit 'rock bottom' before turning around her life, so do not allow your child to bring you or the family to 'rock bottom,' either."
7. Love yourself. "Loving yourself and accepting your limits will keep you from spiraling down as a result of your child's choices," the article points out.
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