New Member
Detatching is taking yourself out of the drama, learning to live your life and allowing them to make their own choices and mistakes. I've always liked to describe it as detatching with love, meaning when they are making the right choices, you are there to support them, when they aren't, you back away.


Well-Known Member
For me, deataching is loving the person without supporting his actions. My way of detaching from my son's drug use and continuous issues is by allowing him to continue with choices that I have no control over. For years I made myself crazy trying to keep track of him, get him to get a job, go to school, do what he should be doing. I gave that up. I do not give him money. I do not rescue him when he gets himself in a jam unless he needs medical attention. I do not constantly remind him of his responsibilites. I do not police his activities or ask him where he is going---he would just lie anyway. I love him; I just don't play an active role in his choices in life. Though detachment, I have learned not to be disappointed in him. I do not resent his actions (at least not as much.) I understand that his life is out of control because he chooses for it to be. Detachment allows me to be able to still care about him.


New Member
I agree that was well said, katmom. I would add that, for me, understanding there was such a thing as detaching, and that it was viewed as a healthy and even, as a necessary part of surviving when our kids are self-destructing, gave me permission to let go of that guilty certainty that this was all my fault.

There was a time when I realized that part of me was still looking at difficult child as a child, as an infant or a toddler that I needed to, and had failed to, protect. That understanding about myself was hidden away from me, though. I am still not all the way through it, but realizing that it was those feelings of responsibility and failure that were fueling my depression has helped me to choose another, healthier way to view what my difficult child does.

Detachment is about teaching ourselves to realize that if the child was living his or her life in the ways we taught them were best, they would not be in the pain they are in.

Right after that?

You get it, that the child CHOSE, and continues to choose, this lifestyle.

And that, other than to advise them to stop using, other than to get in their faces about it every chance we have, other than to refuse to laugh at them with them over their failures, there really is nothing we can do but decide whether to enable or turn away.

Had I not received permission to detach, difficult child would still be my top priority. I would still be taking the validity of my identity from his success or failure AS MOST PARENTS ARE ABLE TO DO. For those of us whose children are using drugs, that understanding that we did not cause this, that it was not our poor parenting that encouraged or condoned it, is crucial.


(This part is edited in. For me, and for most of us I suppose, we look at our children's accomplishments and use that as a measure to judge ourselves as parents. We all did the same things when they were little. Is so and so walking, toilet trained, reading before or after it would be expected that this milestone would have been passed successfully, or do I need to change what I am doing as a parent? We cannot use those same standards to judge ourselves and our parenting, now. Once a child has begun using mind-altering chemicals, we are not looking at our child anymore. If we continue to judge ourselves by our child's performance, we will become hopelessly depressed, and will fixate on that child to the exclusion of all else.

That is what I did.

It did not help difficult child.


And that is what learning to detach helps us to do.

Oftentimes, our capacity to see the dynamic of the problem from a different, and healthier, perspective can swing the balance and our families become healthier, too.

When one member is addicted, all suffer.

If not directly, then because of all the good, positive things they will miss from that family member.

Detachment helps so much with all those things.




Psycho Gorilla Dad
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: katmom</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...My way of detaching from my son's drug use and continuous issues is by allowing him to continue with choices that I have no control over. For years I made myself crazy trying to keep track of him, get him to get a job, go to school, do what he should be doing. I gave that up....</div></div>

Oh, how wife and I have flirted with taking that stance. I applaude your ability to do so - how has it worked for you? We've even contemplated "renting" a room in our house to our difficult child, complete with renters contract and house conduct stipulations/rules.

The book I'm currently reading says that the first way to regain control is to have clearly written, unambiguous contracts with consequences and rewards spelled out. If I tried that by itself, my son would go beserk and not sign it. But, if I were a little sneakier and tied it into something he wanted (like moving into the basement), it might work.


Right now, primary stimulus for his acting out is rebelling against us as the parents. Someone else here posted that the conflict and rebellion between them and their difficult child had taken on a life of its own, long after the original issue was dead.

I'm pretty sure that's what's happened with our son. Not sure what the original issues were. Now, though, the main issue is that he is NOT going to be controlled by us. Every time we try, we give him license to act out.

The hope with such an arrangement is that we'd be removing his primary stimulus to act out, i.e. <u>us</u>. In the past, he's responded VERY well when we removed or avoided something that triggered his rebellion in order to deal with an issue. Like another poster said, it was in how something was stated that either provoked a response or got their difficult child's attention.

Maybe this would give him the breathing room he "says" he needs to figure things out and grow up. More likely, though, this would mean we'd be there when he finally hit bottom to help him back up (yes, we're still hopeful, or hopelessly co-dependent, depending on your perspective).

BUT (there's always a but, isn't there?)...

We live in Kansas, where we're still liable for his actions until he's 18 or out of HS (whichever is later). Because of that, we can't treat him (yet) like a tennant in our house. Regardless of any paper we all sign, if difficult child went and really screwed the pooch we'd be on the ropes for it, and maybe even in worse shape since in this mega-conservative state such an agreement with an underage dependant might be seen as parental neglect.

So for now, that wouldn't work for us, and we don't know if it ever would. But we sure have thought about it a lot, and may still use it once it becomes viable.



Active Member
Detaching is hard. For me, it means not getting involved in my son's life. I do call him (he doesn't pick-up), I do leave messages (about twice per week) and husband and I still love him very much. However, the way he chooses to live isnt' a way that we approve of. We stay in our grandson's life so that if our son eventually wants to be involved with his son, he will have a chance to.