In my work with parents of adult children with substance use disorders, the same communication problems tend to arise over and over.
Most parents unintentionally start communicating exactly the opposite of what they say they want to communicate!
And, by the way, these are intelligent and caring people. It’s not their fault they are sending a different message than they want sent.
It’s that addiction is such a stressful and misunderstood problem, that it makes parents do and say things (in a desperate attempt to help) that usually end up doing more harm than good.
They end up communicating that their adult children:
  • Do not have the ability to make their own decisions,
  • Aren’t responsible for their own behavior,
  • Need their parents to take care of them,
  • Are responsible for causing their parents to suffer, and
  • Are unacceptable the way they are
Have you ever done this with your adult child who has an addiction problem? If so, don’t feel bad! It’s completely normal with this confusing issue.
However, the goal is to make simple changes in language so that parents can start communicating the opposite of those messages above. In short: that our adult children are capable of and responsible for taking care of themselves; and that, while we love them no matter their choices in life, we won’t sacrifice ourselves for their addiction.
Parents who learn how to do this report feeling much more peaceful, less stressed, and having better relationships with their adult children.
It’s important to know that you can get there with practice, a little help, and some patience with yourself.
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