Remove Shame and Guilt

Remove Shame and Guilt

Parents, Let Go of Your Shame and Guilt; Find Hope!

Parents, it is natural and common for us to place blame on ourselves or each other when we find our teens using drugs and alcohol. We question what we did wrong and/or where we went wrong. We find ourselves analyzing every moment of our child’s life and try to pinpoint the thing that we as parents did to “cause” our teen to turn to drugs or alcohol.

*** Parents – it is NOT your Fault ***

One key and critical component for families to move forward is that parents have to realize and accept that their teen’s drug or alcohol use is not their fault. Addiction is a disease; a horrible and sometimes deadly disease. Similar to most diseases it causes immense pain for the families that are impacted. However, just like you should not blame yourself if your child suffers from, let’s say diabetes you should not blame yourself if your teen suffers from drug and alcohol addiction. Remember, “good” kids, in “good” families become addicted to drugs and engage in risky behaviors to support their habit.

Parents should not be so hard on themselves, or question every parenting decision that they made. Even if you think there were signs you should have noticed, or there were times when you let things “slip” that maybe required more of your attention. We, as parents, oftentimes still see our babies when we look at our teenagers. We don’t see the young adults that they have grown into nor do we want to acknowledge the trouble they have found themselves in; this is natural.

It’s important that parents be fair, firm and consistent on their teen now, and help them get back on track. Once parents are able to remove, or at least minimize the immense feelings of guilt they feel they will be better positioned to help their teen through what will definitely be a tough and long recovery process. You will be better served if you turn your time, energy, and attention off of YOU and onto your teen. Remember, you only have so many hours in a day and so much energy to consume. If you are consuming yours by beating yourself up over your teens drug and alcohol use, do you honestly think that you will be able to provide them with the love and support they need?

So – how do you do this? How do you let go of the guilt and blame?  I have provided a few suggestions in this regard for your consideration:

=> join a support group; talk with others that are going through the same thing you are

=> educate yourself; reading and learning about addiction will help you realize that it was not in your control

=> seek professional help; although your friends and family are well meaning, seeking the advice and guidance of a “neutral party” so to speak will help you detach from your feelings of shame and guilt

=> ask yourself, ‘Now what must I do to get past this situation / pain’?

=> ask yourself, ‘what do I have to do today to be strong so my teen and I can do what we ‘want’ to do tomorrow in harmony’?

=> learn: what pushes your buttons? What assumptions you have? What negative stories replay in your thinking? What is the guilt associated to and what ONE thing can you do now to minimize or release these thoughts altogether?

=> consider what you can do to have compassion for yourself

=> create a list – for every blaming thought you have, write three positive things about your parenting and ability to love that combats those blaming thoughts

=> create and write in a journal, keep track of what you’re doing write and make note of the challenges that lead you to thinking you are at fault

=> write a story – write about you and the family dream/hopes/desires that you have. Start from the end, you already know the beginning. Write about your satisfactory ending and in the middle write about what it took to get there… you may find that detaching with love was one of the major steps

=> find a way to cherish, enjoy and celebrate the good times with their teen and celebrate you!

*** Remove the Shame ***

In addition to feelings of guilt, parents oftentimes feel ashamed and embarrassed in their teen’s problems and worried about how it reflects on their family and their parenting skills. Again, remember that addiction is a disease that happens to the best of us. Yes, there are and will be many who ignorant individuals who view addiction simply as a sign of weakness by a weak-willed individual. “Why don’t they just quit” they ask themselves?  However, I’m sure that those reading this article know that it is nowhere close to that easy.

Teens can sense their parent’s shame and disappointment, which of course can impede their road to recovery. Now of course, you aren’t going to jump up and down and say “yipppeee – my teenager is an addict!” However, you can be disappointed in your teen’s choices without being disappointed in your teen. Rather than being ashamed of acknowledging your teen’s drug problem, become their advocate for change. Be proud of their commitment to recovery and support them in every way that you can.

*** Parent the Teen you have, not the Teen you Want©

This may sound a bit harsh, but, in reality, we need to accept the cards that are dealt us. In a perfect world, none of us would have teens that have ever used drugs or alcohol, let alone become addicts. But, as we know, this is not a perfect world. Rather than lament over your teens issues, point fingers, or feel shame and guilt, use this as a learning opportunity for you, your teen, and your family. Use the challenge in front of you to make you all stronger, both individually and as a family unit. Teach your teen life lessons that they can use for years to come.

Remember – Let’s ‘parent with intent’