There are two distinct memories of addiction that haunt me to this day. One I have shared, this next one, very few people know.
How do we define successful parenting? Often, one looks past the parents and begins grading the successful adult children. It goes that way. The hours we put into teaching wrong and right, or good and bad, circumstance, and consequence. The time we take to teach our kids compassion and caring, or taking time to volunteer and help others. Forgotten are the endless lessons on how to be humble and loving towards all. Nope. When defining parents in this arena, it seems to matter most what and how your kids turned out.
Please know how your kids turn out is how we define successful growing and maturing ‘of the kid’- not of the parents. You can teach every life lesson until you are blue in the face. Some adults never figure life out. Their consequences never scare them into walking a more narrow line. Their poor choices never lead to their growth in common sense and accountability. Why? I have no idea.
As I tried to help my son through some difficult adolescent years, we hit one wall after another. I never gave up though. I thought I could help in some way. I sought counseling with his youth leader. While it helped for a while, the pull to peer pressure seemed to win every time.
I prayed nonstop for a boy I loved. Once again, God would reveal another hidden secret. I was placing laundry on my son’s bed and as I leaned down, I felt something hard and uneven under his blankets. I lifted the sheet but nothing was there. I pushed down a bit harder and felt it again. I lifted the fitted sheet and there at the end of the mattress was a slash, and inside was a bottle of alcohol. I immediately pulled it out, and then I pulled another, and another, until there were nine bottles on the floor.
I hate alcohol. Alcohol has been in my life since I was a young girl, and it wreaked havoc every time. Alcohol numbs people indeed, so numb that they are blind to what is happening around them. If I could rid this world of something I would start with alcohol, drugs of any kind are right there too. So to find these giant bottles in my house, stuffed in a mattress, I was livid.
I set every single bottle on my dining room table, and decided to hand this one over to my husband. I could not do it anymore. This problem was bigger than I could handle, I knew it and I had accepted it. I knew the problem was a monster. It was only the beginning, including arrests, incarcerations, leading to serious drug abuse.
He asked to move with his aunt shortly after this incident. He begged to move with his aunt. He said he needed a new beginning, to get away from his friends, to have a chance to start over (at 14). He also begged me to help him explain this to his father. At this point, I considered myself a failure as a mother. After all, the actions of our kids defines successful parenting. Right?
It would be years before I would stop blaming myself, and I may not be completely over that today. We have felt pain, sorrow, and sadness for our son. We thought we were doing the right thing in giving him that second chance, or fresh start as he called it. We flat out regret our decision. Hindsight is 20/20, but we live with it in our heart.
He has experienced unbelievable consequences. Today he admitted to me that ‘he had no respect for authority starting around the age of eight’. I always knew that was a problem, we all did. I never knew he knew it too. I suppose what we taught did stick, even if it was tossed aside and never mentioned again, until today- at the age of 27.
We did something right, after all.