There is the saying, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” I wish that were not the case, because instead of feeling joy while watching your child grow up, you are watching your child live an unhealthy lifestyle. You will feel afraid, angry, resentful, embarrassed, frustrated, confused, guilty and more. These feelings are all understandable.
Watching a loved one struggle with substance use can be stressful for all family members involved, but especially for parents. One of the first steps is to acknowledge how you are feeling. Make the connection between your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and do what you can to manage your negative emotions. Realize that while many parents feel similarly, it does not help your daughter’s situation to let your anger and resentment overflow into your conversations with her.
Consider what is motivating your daughter to use substances, so that you have a clear understanding about why substance use makes sense for her. Consider the dynamics of your family and her unique situation.
It can help to consider how you are feeling before any important interactions with your daughter. Expressing negative emotions, such as yelling or being confrontational, will not help you motivate your daughter to change. Take time to get yourself into an even-tempered frame of mind before having a conversation with her.
If you are especially emotional, instead of engaging, step away and give yourself time to cool down. Find a way to regroup, and try talking again at a better time when you are both feeling that you can manage your emotions.
Managing your emotions is crucial to keeping the important conversations you want to have on track and moving forward in a positive way.
Want to connect with another parent who's been there?
Cathy is one of our volunteer Parent Coaches. Like all of our coaches, she knows first-hand the challenges of helping a child with addiction. In addition to their own experiences, all parent coaches receive extensive and on-going training.