I am all about helping parents free themselves from the misery and stress that often comes with an adult child’s addiction. Equally important, is that I want them to do this while being loving and compassionate to their children.

But what is compassion exactly?

It has been defined as: “sympathy and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others,” as well as “a deep desire to help and relieve that suffering.”

When addiction shows up as a problem in our children, the goal is to show them our concern and kindness, as well as a desire to help, with their suffering.

Is this what we usually do?


Because addiction is so maddening and stressful, we are usually anything BUT compassionate! Instead, we go right into battle mode, trying to fix and save.

And our language reflects that. We start engaging in a verbal battle for control.

We argue, give advice, make threats, enable, criticize, and nag. Then, we feel guilty, frustrated, and exhausted.

And, although we do this out of feeling great compassion for our children, it ends up being the opposite of compassionate.

This kind of communication is also the opposite of self-compassion; because, instead of caring for our own suffering, we are increasing it as well.

So, have you ever engaged in this verbal tug of war with your child? If so, you are not alone!

A lot of parents get more and more frustrated and worn out, simply because they don’t know how a few changes in their communication can make a massive difference.

Sadly, some parents eventually just give up or become estranged from their children. In most cases, it just doesn’t have to be that way.

Changes in language can truly transform your relationship with your child. And they can start to change your perspective on the problem and your life – for the better!

I want you to know that you can turn any harmful communication patterns around and become truly compassionate — thereby being loving and helpful to your adult children and to yourself.

How to do this? It takes practice, but we already know how to be compassionate.  Ask yourself: how would I respond and talk to a friend when they are going through a difficult time? Usually, our language is much more helpful when we are talking to a friend in pain. With our children, our fear and other emotions can get in the way of being helpful. So, you can start pausing and ask yourself: What would I say to a friend who was going through something similar?

And, don’t forget to be patient and gentle with yourself while you are practicing – that’s self-compassion.