How Can You Be Your Loved One’s Best Chance at Recovery? Be A Loving Mirror.
In a recent MomPower article, parent coach Cathy Tauginbaugh covered the issue of lying and addiction pretty thoroughly. I recommend reading it to get insight into why this happens and ways to cope as a parent. My article shows how a parent’s response can make a difference in a loved one’s movement toward addiction or recovery. My method is based on Al-Anon writings, research, evidence-based practices, and my own experience. I call it Be A Loving Mirror (BALM).
Consider this story from one of my clients:
I will never forget the time my husband and I were sitting on the couch with our fifteen-year-old daughter. She had just promised us that she had not taken anything. We watched as the urine cup in my husband’s hand told a different story.
“It must be a false positive,” she said.
Even with the evidence in our hands, she seemed so convincing.
Yet her eyes, her behaviors, and the results told us she wasn’t telling the truth. And so we had a decision to make. Retest or stay steady and be there with her through the next uncomfortable moments of truth.
Being a loved one’s best chance is a critical task.
Whether your child is experimenting in his or her teen years or has already crossed the threshold into full-blown addiction, in which case hope must be wrestled from the jaws of hopelessness, your task is the same: choose hope, choose recovery, choose to be their best chance. But that does not mean there isn’t work to do on how we respond in the moment to the lies our children’s hijacked brains throw our way.
In the BALM program, we have a saying: “Denial is the glue of the addictive system.”
Here’s how it works:
Your child uses a substance, undereats, acts out sexually, etc.
You find out.
You confront your child.
Your child denies with words like these:
- “What? Are you crazy?”
- “Do you really think that little of me?”
- “How can you accuse me of something like that?”
- “You didn’t raise me for that, Mom!”
- “I can’t believe you would think that of me.”
- “Why would you believe her or him over me?”
What happens next is critical.
Do you argue?
Do you fold?
Do you stick to your story?
Do you doubt yourself?
Do you walk away in frustration or disgust?
For many parents, this is the moment of truth.
We invite you to consider a response like this:
Sweetheart, I love you so much. I know you. I know your heart.
You care about life, about our family, about me, about your honor and your integrity.
At the same time, I have been observing you over the past few weeks, and my new approach is to believe my eyes and ears.
Three times this week, at the end of the evening, you walked in the house past midnight. Your eyes were bloodshot. You were slurring your speech. You looked kind of dizzy, and then you passed out.
This is something that only happens after you spend an evening with your friends. This morning you called in sick to work for the second time this week.
Yesterday, you refused a call from one of your best friends from our old neighborhood.
Your behaviors have changed; your demeanor has changed; your friends have changed. Your words don’t match what I see and hear.
I’m concerned about what I am seeing and I’m here to help.
And I love you so much.
Sometimes, the above is too much to share in one sitting. Sometimes, it is not enough. The BALM approach has many before-and-after components to help you be your loved one’s best chance at recovery, but at its core is a peaceful, loving conversation without opinion or rancor.
Share your love, the facts, your concern, and, again, your love.
And when your child argues and begs and pleads, listen and know you are under no requirement to believe him or her. You are not being a “bad parent” if you do not trust your child. Your child may have a brain disorder (known as addiction) that could kill him or her. Your job is to be there in a way that helps regardless of the voices in your head and the words your child says.
To be your loved one’s best chance at recovery, Be A Loving Mirror.
Watch this webinar to learn more about how to have a powerful BALM conversation.
To learn more, read my book BALM: The Loving Path to Family Recovery and listen to the six BALM Family Transformation webinars here on mompower.org. Also, to learn how to script and have powerful BALM Conversations, watch for my upcoming book on the 7 Steps to Be A Loving Mirror!
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