I Try to Set Tough Boundaries With My Child But Often End Up Giving In. What Can I Do?

We work with a special group of moms and dads – Parent Coaches – who, just like you, have been affected by a child’s substance use. They are volunteers who receive special training from the Partnership and our clinical partner in order to help other families through similar struggles. In these blog posts, they answer parents’ most frequent questions.

There is no right or wrong as you travel this path of the unknown and there is no one size fits all. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is so very difficult. As parents of children using substances, we often see their pain and their hurt. When we contemplate actions that might add to their pain, it becomes so very difficult to wrap our heads around. It might not feel right but evidence and science tell us that letting the negative consequences resulting from “negative” behavior be felt and heard is helpful. It may surprise you to learn that the direct, negative outcomes of your child’s actions (failed grades, missed social events, a cold supper) — what we call “natural consequences” — are among the most powerful promoters of change.

Of course, some consequences are too harmful to allow. Your job is to identify the negative consequences you can tolerate; you can begin with soft boundaries that you can stick with vs. tougher boundaries that will be difficult to follow through with. Often, we feel setting boundaries is a form of punishment which could not be further from the truth. We are helping our children when we allow them to experience the negative consequence that was a direct result of their actions or choices. If we do not let natural consequences happen, it sends a message that there is no reason for them to stop the behavior. There are tools and strategies to help you find the balance that works for you.

Denise is one of our volunteer Parent Coaches. She, like all of our coaches, is a parent who 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.

Would you like to connect with one of our Specialists for one-on-one help and learn more about Parent Coaching? Email us to get started.