If you have a teenage addict, you know how this works. Other moms are sitting around mentioning which Ivy League university or great internship their child just got accepted to and you aren't sure how to respond. In my case, it was even harder. While my son was growing up, most of my friends were connected to the entertainment industry in some fashion. Naturally, their kids had opportunities beyond the average prospects. I'd hear, "Oh, guess, what? My son's book just hit The New York Times Best Seller List
and now he is producing a television show. How is your son doing?"
Because I love my son more than life itself and would do anything to protect him, one of the hardest things for me to internalize and believe is that I did not cause his addiction. Self-Blame: The Ultimate Emotional Abuse
On the surface it's easy. You just say the magic and well-known mantra, "I didn't cause it, I can't control it and I can't cure it." But here's the thing: When you have an addict kid, it feels like you did, you can and you will. But that's not reality. The reality is it takes a laundry list of different traits, environmental factors and personality characteristics coming together at the same time. Then it has to meet with opportunity, curiosity and I believe a little bit of fate.
When you look at who gets addicted, there really is no clear-cut answer other than a believed genetic predisposition playing at least a small part in its development. Teens of all socio-economic backgrounds, ethnic cultures and family styles get caught up in the web of addiction. One of the most profound things ever said to me came from my daughter-in-law who is also a recovering addict.
She had a very strict childhood. You know, no Halloween because it is against the bible
type strict. On the other hand, my son was raised with lots of warmth, love and encouragement but without the ultra strictness. Oh, who am I kidding, I was too lenient.
One day, my daughter-in-law, who knows I struggle with the whys of it all, said to me: "Your son and I came from completely different upbringings. It's not that one was better than the other. They were just completely different. And we still ended up in the same place. That should tell you that nobody causes it. It just happens."
I took her words to heart.
Whenever you are feeling especially vulnerable to the self-blame game, when you find yourself going over every single moment of your child's upbringing to figure out what you should have done differently, try this instead. Look around at others who have addicted kids in your town. Focus on a family that is different than yours -- not better, not worse, just different. Got that family in mind? Good. How is it that both your kids ended up in the same place?
It just happened. You didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it. The best thing you can do now is to encourage your teen to accept treatment where he will learn skills to cope with being an addict. And of course go on to become a happy and productive adult. Families in Recovery Video