Consider this fact, addiction cannot exist without enabling. And your enabling causes your teen’s addiction. What does all that mean?
Let’s start with the American Society of Addiction Medicine, ASAM, definition. Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of the brain. That’s the sterile-sounding medical definition.
But what’s the definition for you? Addiction kills your child. First, your son and daughter, your babies, push you away. As if you were a nobody and not the mother and father that love you more than life itself. This brings into your lives only unimaginable pain, misery, and suffering. Then, far-too-often, it ends in the death of your son or daughter. But that’s not the end. The remainder of your life is filled with never-ending pain, suffering, guilt, remorse, and heartbreak.
How You Enable and Kill Your Teen
Enabling and addiction go hand-in-hand. Addiction cannot exist without enabling. What is enabling? Elina Kala, MA, Mental Health Professional writes for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, “The concept of enabling sounds straightforward—doing for others what they can and need to do for themselves—and yet it’s often incredibly hard to distinguish between helping, supporting, and enabling.”
That doesn’t seem so bad. So what if your daughter doesn’t make her bed in the morning and you do it? She’s busy at school. Or your son has a minor fender bender with the family car and you pay for the repairs. No big deal.
How You Start Enabling Your Child
Your parents enabled you. And you enable your children. It starts innocently. Your baby cries. You pick her up and console her. Feed her. Change her diaper. And rock her to sleep. Of course, that’s the correct thing to do. But she cries hysterically. She’s just eaten and burped. Has a clean diaper. And slept for two hours. Her temperature is normal. But she’s bawling. You console her. Over and over. Instead of letting her cry until she stops. You enable her.
How You Enable Your Teen
Let’s stop soft-soaping this and think about real-life examples that end in tragedy. Your teen’s entire personality changes from light to dark. From happy to morbidly unhappy. From polite and respectful to rude and smart-ass. Grades go from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. You find pills and cigarettes in dirty clothes. Something’s wrong. But you rationalize. She’s just a typical teenager. You enable by turning your head and saying nothing. Doing nothing.
Your enabling eventually leads to your phone ringing at 1:30 in the morning. It’s the police. Your son’s been in an accident. Your son’s in jail charged with suspicion of drunk driving and possession of illegal drugs after a car crash where one of his friends with him was killed.
Doing the Next Right Thing
Just like your teen needs to stop drinking and drugging. You need to stop enabling. Hold your son and daughter responsible for every action they take and every word they say. Start with the small stuff. When they throw their clothes on the floor. Make them pick them up and put them away. Complaints about homework. Respond with “I understand. Get it done. Let me know if you want my help.” Keep at it and make sure you never receive that phone call in the middle of the night.