Family problems have roots and support in the culture
Our culture is changing at a staggering pace. Challenges to our traditional values, ideals and authority are taking place daily. The old belief that a broken home, for instance, caused our kids to abuse drugs/alcohol or behave anti-socially is no longer valid. 1 in 4 families have experienced separation or divorce. This fact dispels the theory that a dysfunctional family CAUSED a child to abuse. They are simply excuses to justify someone’s anti-social behaviour.
Parents are people too
The fact that parents are people and not automations adds to life’s richness.
Some of us are great in a crisis and mediocre in everyday interactions. Some of us are terrific providers and terrible at giving physical affection. Most of us do the best we can. It would be wonderful if we became parents, and could suddenly do everything. Whether parents are portrayed as omnipotent or helpless, malevolent or kind, they are, after all, only people.
Parent’s material and emotional resources are limited
Most parents try to supply superhuman emotional resources to assist their family in every possible way. The same applies to material resources. We are simply not equipped emotionally and financially to continue supporting uncooperative kids.
The ‘buy, buy, buy, be, be, be’ culture is forced upon us and we do everything in our power to conform to it. This simply enables the addict and bankrupts the family financially and emotionally.
Parents and kids are not equal
The Bill of Rights and the new Constitution tend to give the impression that all human beings are equal. In the eyes of the law and in the workplace we can all agree to that. When it comes to our homes it is a very different situation. Only when children reach their maturity do they become equal in the eyes of the law, and when they take full responsibility for their own life, viz; jobs, home, finances they become equal to parents. The modern culture depicts kids as more equal than parents and that their wishes are our duty. While kids place any kind of demand – emotional or financial upon their parents they are NOT equal. Don’t fall into the trap that because you indulge in certain behaviours e.g. social drinking, staying out late, they can blackmail you into believing they are entitled to do likewise. Parents frequently do have double standards regarding their own behaviour but the difference is that they assume full responsibility for their actions, kids do not.
Blaming keeps people helpless
Blame is a favourite pastime. The problem of unruly young people is most often blamed on uncaring parents. Parents and other people also blame the teachers who don’t maintain discipline in schools, the police who don’t enforce the laws, the judge who let criminals off the hook, the psychiatrists who keep people coming back for expensive sessions, the pushers who seduce young people into the world of drugs, the politicians who are all taking bribes, the teenagers peer group which leads the innocent child astray, unhealthy sugar-laden foods which cause hyperactivity, the feminist movement which pushes Moms out of the home, TV and movies which encourage sex and violence, divorce, lack of religious beliefs, children’s rights and on and on..
Blame can be a lot of fun and very creative. It keeps us busy with the illusion of knowing the cause of something so we really don’t have to accomplish anything productive. Focusing on this illusion is a sure-fire way not to solve the problem.
Kids’ behavior affects parents and parents’ behavior affects kids
The sixth of the Ten Beliefs may sound somewhat redundant but in reality parents’ effect on their children receives far more credence and attention
then the children’s effect on them. People do not live in a vacuum. Their behaviour is a product of interaction with their environment, which includes
their offspring, changes drastically, so do they. How irrational to expect parents to be calm and collected when they fear for their child’s welfare,
when they are frightened by violent and abusive acts and when they see their son or daughter slipping deeper and deeper into trouble.
Ironically our culture accepts one side of this cause and effect relationship. Screwed up parents provide a ready explanation for the destructive behaviour of the kid!
TOUGHLOVE® does not “excuse” neurotic behaviour in parents. Parents still can make choices about how they will respond to the situation especially with the support of other parents with the same problem.
Allow others to help you see how your behaviour facilitates your kids “acting out”.
Taking a STAND precipitates crisis
In today’s psychological culture the most typical approach to solving a personal or family problem is counselling. The drawback to counselling for
a family is that often the family does not have psychological problems. The problem is cultural and needs a cultural solution. Traditional psychological approaches to drug and alcohol abuse have been markedly unsuccessful with chemical abusers of all ages. Counselling or even medication have been helpful for some people, perhaps essential, but only after the abuse has stopped.
First the family, with the support of others, must stop the destructive behaviour by taking a stand precipitating a crisis for that young person.
Very easy to say but not so easy to act upon. Work on a bottom line basis which allows you to gain confidence in small steps which makes taking a
stand that much easier when the time is right.Each week make a bottom-line decision, something you will do or not do, whether it relates to your own being or to the problem person’s actions. Don’t feel despair if you fail, try again next week. Attending a TOUGHLOVE® support group will help you achieve the serenity to perform these changes.
From a controlled crisis comes the possibility of positive change
The Chinese have a symbol for the English word “crisis” that is made up of two characters: one stands for danger, the other for opportunity. When we have been faced with the danger of a crisis produced by our children, it is useful for us to think about the opportunity which each crisis provides.
As long as we focus on the danger side of crisis we will remain unaware of the opportunity it presents for positive change.
Fear empowers the user and immobilizes the parent. This is the tough part of TOUGHLOVE® and with help you can control the crisis and change the outcome of the situation.
Families need to give and get support in their own community in order to change
Within the TOUGHLOVE® group there are friends who will intercede for you during a crisis. Some actions that need to be taken are just too hard to do yourself. Call your sponsor, they will assist you in your decision making, as well as practically, sometimes we are just not strong enough to face our child behind bars, and tell them that we will not be bailing them out this time. Use the resources we have built up as a group. Feed off the strength of others. Legal and community agencies will assist, our counsellor can advise you who to call.
Family, friends and associates will not necessarily agree with your actions; they don’t have the problem, you do, and with TOUGHLOVE® you will be supported.
The essence of family life is cooperation, not togetherness
When you reach a situation which is acceptable, perhaps your addict has gone to rehab, and cleaned up their act, or your mentally ill person is stabilised on their medication. This is what you have hoped, prayed and worked for … so why do we feel so empty? After the entire trauma, the emotional draining both the problem person and the family have gone through, we begin another traumatic journey.
The child you lost to drugs or mental illness is not necessarily the child you get back. Co-operation at home is the key to restoring a balance between family members. Do not demand love and affection or a complete action replay to the happy family you were before the problem intruded on your lives.
Build up new relationship based on cooperation and respect from which love and affection can be nurtured slowly without placing undue strain on any of the participants. Everyone involved in the family will have changed; therefore the relationship between each member will also have altered. Time heals wounds, but scars will always remain.