Diverging theories & confusion...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Go slow mama, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama Guest

    So, I've noted that one common thread on this forum is the theory of detachment and holding kids accountable. I understand the model and see the value, however in my own professional work with an at risk population, with addiction and mental health, etc; I know one thing to be true...any intervention that you take will go in one of two directions...either the person pauses and reflects leading to moderating their problematic behaviour/attitude, or conversely they feel persecuted and become all the more strident in their ways. It isn't black and white.

    In fact, a lot of the literature/research is very mixed about the tough love approach. One study that was done around interventions like you see on TV with addicts showed that there was no evidence that it works; meaning that the person gets well or conversely that the family/friends can effectively detach. In fact sometimes it does make things worse for all involved. I do believe the central tenants of setting and holding boundaries is necessary for all, but I'm confused around bottom lines and eviction or cutting someone out.

    I'm not suggesting we should all learn to tolerate whatever harm our loved ones cause us, but maybe it isn't so clear cut. There is a group of Canadian mothers who have founded an organization called MomsDu; moms united and mandated to saving the lives of drug users. It's a group of women who lost their kids/adult children to drug use and advocate for safe injection sites etc. Here in Canada this kind of theoretical platform is getting a lot of traction and countries like Sweden are ahead of us. One mother in the org practiced tough love and her daughter acquired flesh eating disease from injecting...her story and perspective is worth a read. We're all different and all struggling, I believe most of us are doing our best to cope with very difficult stuff...and it isn't lost on me that it seems generally the case that it is the mothers=women who are left standing.

    Food for thought...comments?
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    My opinion is that while tough love worked great for my kid, I think many of us detach for our own sanity, not to make our addicted child suddenly healthy.

    We matter. How many years of our lives, how much of our money, how much do we sacrifice our mental health and that of our other loved ones before we decide to let go of our addicts behavior...for our sakes and the rest of the family. We count too. Do we still house and support them when we are 80 and they are 55? Or 60? At 30, when they are refusing to change and we still have good years in front of us? What cost are we willing to pay when we can't change another person? It is our decision.

    Each person can do what he/she wants. In the end the addict alone decides whether or not to quit. Some never do, such as those in the Canadian mothers group you talk about. I guess it depends on if you want to block out everything else in your life to try to save a grown person, when you really can't do it for them.

    If you want to give all you have to your addicted child, nobody will stop you. The adult child still may die. Addiction can be fatal, no matter what you do. So I think it becomes how much of our life and our healthy loved ones lives we want to sacrifice for our adult addict. And for me giving up my own well being and the attention I give to all of my loved ones would not be worth sacrificing to try to save an addict. I don't believe we ever save them. THEY save THEMSELVES. OR not. It is not something we can do.

    Nobody here ever recomended cutting the beloved child addict out of our lives. Sometimes we just don't engage in drama or let them abuse us or give them money that we know will be spent on drugs. Nobody thinks never talking to them again is the answer. But we do set boundaries and that is healthy for us and I think it's good for them too. I don't care what groups of mothers do...with my life, I choose after much thought. And I was lucky. She stopped. My daughter is the one standing, and I couldn't be prouder. She did it herself, not me.
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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  3. Praecepta

    Praecepta Active Member

    My thinking is that kids will eventually face reality out there - face being held responsible for their actions and have severe legal/criminal consequences.

    So I feel it is best they learn now - be held accountable - live in an environment in which they are treated as they will be when they venture out into the real world.
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  4. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I think that for the kid who is struggling there is not a cookie cutter approach. It boils down to trial and error. Natural consequences work for some and others just don't get it. I also believe that parents deserve to live free from fear and legal liability when said child will not/cannot abide by reasonable rules of behavior.
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  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I think the state services are a lot better in Sweden. In the U.S. If you are dependent, nobody will help when you finally have to be on your own. Different cultures.
  6. jetsam

    jetsam Active Member

    To me detachment is not meant as a punishment to the addict, but as a survival tool for the parent. Yes it seems harsh to some, but until you have walked those miles (and i mean MANY miles) in the shoes of an addict's parent you would never be able to fathom the pain ,heartache, anger, guilt etc... that we must endure. To detach is merely a way of saying that we need to step back and let the addict make their own choices ,and confront the consequences that those choices bring about. These are adults. NOT children that we have any control over!
    we have no say in their choices, we can only watch as they either destroy their lives, or choose to get help and begin living again! To detach doesn't mean i love my child any less than i did before,I just have to recognize that what i have attempted up until now has not succeeded in getting my child to stop using drugs, and I need to step aside and pray that my childs higher power will assist him where i have failed. (and believe me its not for lack of trying on my part) To make that conscious choice to let my child fall and get up on his own (as i did when he first learned to walk) Is to be a better parent than to keep putting pillows under his ass to soften the landing all the time. If I continue to soften the landing for him ,he then learns that
    someone is there to catch me and falling is not so bad. No, I think falling needs to be hard so that when it hurts when they reach the bottom, they realize that its to painful to keep doing this and hopefully learn to stand and not fall.
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  7. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    I think that we are looking at "detachment" differently. Detachment doesn't mean that you completely estrange yourself from the addict, but more that you don't encourage their drug use, either directly or indirectly through your actions.

    Many of us remain in contact with our loved ones who are addicted we just don't do anything to support their habit, while we do everything to support their recovery.

    It is a huge difference between that and a public health program like safe needle exchanges. Safe needle exchanges not only protect the addict, they protect the public from blood-borne infectious disease.

    My though is that by giving someone shelter, or giving them money it encourages their continued drug use by making it easy for them. They have a safe, comfortable place to use, maybe some stuff to steal to steal to finance their habit. Since they don't have to pay rent any extra funds they may have can go to their habit. Plus it implies that you approve of their use.

    There is also the fact that detachment protects us. Not only from the obvious legal and physical implications, but from the emotional turmoil that addicts bring with them. Existence with an addict is NEVER drama free. It is a very difficult row to hoe living with them.

    Detachment or "tough love" may or may not work. Everyone has their own "rock bottom." Everyone has their own trigger that finally makes them realize that they can't live this way. ...and some people don't have that at all and will live and die addicts. I think that detachment helps us stop dancing that 2-step with the addict and break they cycle of drama that feeds into them and destroys our peace.

    2 stories from group. Just to indicate how everyone has their own breaking point.

    1st. A bar owner whose bar had a lively cocaine trade going on in the bathroom. !st it started with a little toot on Saturday nights, then it was Friday, then it was every day. He had twin baby boys at home. The night he realized that he would rather stay at the bar after hours than go home to his kids was the night that he realized he needed help. Called his boss who was a recovering alcoholic in the middle of the night and begged for help. Checked himself into a 30 day inpatient treatment center and hasn't used since. 12 year. He never lost a thing, was never estranged from anyone. Just the thought of being separated from his kids was enough.

    #2. A doctor. Tried crack at a party just to see what the hype was, and it was off to the races from there. Lost his job, his license, his wife, ended up homeless. His own quote was, "I had no job, no wife, no home. I was living on the street and selling drugs to support my habit. It never occurred to me how bad I was until my own mother wouldn't let me in her house. That was the day I knew I needed help."
  8. MommaK

    MommaK Member

    In my case my daughter (14) has not been using drugs long. However I have family that I watched addiction control. I will not sacrifice the safety of her 10 year old brother or myself and my husband for her bad decisions. We are taking hard strong steps now to curb this and help her put a stop to it. I'm reporting her to the youth courts and I'm removing her from her source. In my case my daughter is 14. If she is unable to set and maintain her own limits then I as her parent will. I'm doing it because after watching what my uncle and sister have lived thru using I have seen that when they were young no one set hard limits for them.
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  9. Weary Mother

    Weary Mother WEARY MOTHER

    Hello, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I too am conflicted over the boundaries of tough love. Recently I have learned that some detachment is very good, but worry that in doing so in a black and white way may cause other issues, and perhaps some compassion is lost when it could help. I am new to this forum but see both sides of this and struggle with adult children who have addiction/life issues.
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  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I think it depends on a lot of factors.

    The addicts age
    The parents age
    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    There is no black and white. Only gray.
  11. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama Guest

    Jodiehooks, I read your personal statement and my heart hurts for you, sincerely. I wish I could offer something to help with what must be unimaginable pain. I'm new here too and it does help to know that we are not alone.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think all you can do is your best and follow what your instincts tell you is the right thing. If and when there is no right thing, because this is real life and often there isn't a right thing, just several bad things, you have to do the best you can and pray to whomever or whatever you believe in for the best possible outcome. Sometimes you have to cut contact, but sometimes it is the worst thing you can do.

    There was a time when my brother was supposed to go back to his home after a few months at my parents' home. My mother had a very strong feeling that if he left, she would never see him alive again. So she did what she had to in order to make him stay. He was in his late 30s and she could not have forced him to stay. She did persuade him to stay, and in less than a month he crashed and burned in a major way. Less than 2 weeks later he did it again but in an even bigger way. That led to rehab and a whole new sober life. I learned to rely on my instincts from my mom, and I have and will trust her instincts when they scream at her, just as I trust mine esp when they scream at me. I have every reason to believe my brother would be dead now if he had gone back to his home in a wilderness area of a major forest. I have to believe that if your instincts are telling you something, even if it makes absolutely no sense, they are telling you that something for a very good reason.

    We don't really understand the brain or addiction, and most options for dealing with addiction are bad. You just have to figure out what has the best chance of working, try it, pray, and hope for thebest, reevaluating when possible and making new choices with new information.

    As long as you don't ever set out to harm, you have to do the best you can and forgive yourself for any mistakes. My mother once told me that it wasn't like she ever woke up and wondered what the worst thing she could do to her kids was, so she did the best she could in murky and uncertain waters. I think that is all you can ask of yourself.
  13. Weary Mother

    Weary Mother WEARY MOTHER

    wow, such good input here today, thanks to all. I have a lot of stuff to think about and appreciate all the thoughts you all have shared.
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