Written by Josh Azevedo, LISAC – used with permission (italics and bold text added by myself)
Looking for a surefire way to ruin your day, month, year, even all your golden years?
Try this… let’s judge yesterday’s actions with today’s information.
Take what you know today, with all your experience and knowledge; then look back over your life, make sure to focus directly on your parenting and sort through each detail. The next step is taking what you know now, with today’s information, and judge all your past decisions. Notice all your mistakes and say things to yourself like, I should have, I could have, and I would have.
See how that works?
Now that you are good and depressed, let’s talk about judging yesterday’s actions with today’s information.
As absurd as it may seem laid out in the above way, it is one of the primary ways that parents stay stuck, sick, and unhappy.
Many parents of substance users do this to themselves for years, always with negative results. This mentality of judging past decisions with new information fosters low self-esteem, depression, guilt, poor relationships, and even poor health.
The regret and guilt created by doing this can keep a parent engaged in a dynamic with their adult children that allows the child to avoid the natural consequences of their addiction.
Sometimes parents might judge others’ (spouse, schools, law enforcement, friends, etc.) past actions in relation to their child and blame them for their child’s problems and addiction.
This mindset succeeds in keeping the addict in the victim role rather than allowing the addict to take ownership over what he/she must change in order to recover.
This mindset is also often used by parents to avoid that persistent and scary (FALSE) belief that it is their fault that their child was given the curse of addiction.
If you can see the insanity in judging yesterday’s actions with today’s information, what can you do to change this mentality?
First and foremost, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is where parent meetings are critical. Discussion with others who have walked this path will help tremendously; a burden shared is halved. There is a difference between knowing there are other parents out there who have dealt with addicted kids and actually spending time talking with them. There is enormous relief from shared experience and identification with others.
Educate yourself about addiction; anyone who understands addiction, knows it is almost never the parent’s fault and that the only way for addicts to recover is for them to take responsibility for their own lives. It is really challenging for them to do this and nearly impossible if the parents won’t let go, stop fixing everything, and begin to recover themselves.
Focus on today’s actions, dwelling on the past is never useful. Take todays new information you are learning from other parents and only apply it to today. When we apply a solution to the here and now it can really help effect change instead of keeping us stuck in the past. So, let’s try this again…. Looking for a great way to help you enjoy your day, month, year, or even the rest of your golden years? Try the above positive suggestions and remember that you are powerless over the choices of others but have the power to feel good about yourself as a parent right now!
Josh Azevedo, LISAC
Josh Azeverdo is a guest blogger for PAL and is the Executive Director at The Pathway Program, https://thepathwayprogram.com