I love my daughter, but I can’t take the holiday drama!
I know this sounds terrible, but I don’t want my child around for the holidays! Last Christmas she promised to come; we waited all day but she never showed up. We were always on pins and needles, not knowing what condition she would be in because of her alcohol use. We’d already told her not to come if she has been drinking. Now, more often than not, when we invite her over she calls around the time she was supposed to arrive and tells us some wild story about why she cannot come. I love my daughter, but I can’t take the drama on the holiday. What should I do?
Well Mom, I hate to say it, but the drama is all yours. You can’t get mad at your daughter for being herself. She is consistently inconsistent, yet you expect her to be different on the holiday. The only person you have any control over is yourself! Let’s take a look at what you can do (aside from banning her from holiday gatherings).
Great job! You’ve drawn a boundary around her drinking, and she appears to be adhering to it, but now it seems it’s preventing her from attending at all. Have you thought about getting together prior to the holiday? Maybe the two of you could exchange presents a day or two in advance just in case she can’t make it? Another idea might be telling her you realize the holidays are difficult for her and suggest that if she comes by you’ll only expect her to stay for a short time. Can you invite her for breakfast and tell her if she wants to stay she is welcome but if she can’t you’ll understand and won’t question her?
You could also invite her and then go about your day as if she wasn’t going to attend. This way, you won’t be disappointed if she doesn’t arrive, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if she does. If she were able to simply visit and spend time with her family my guess is that she would. Taking some of the pressure off of both of you might make the holiday easier for everyone.
If all else fails and you still feel strongly about her not visiting, you can tell her to stay home. If you have been doing this for a while, however, and you care enough about her, you may regret the decision. As parents with children that suffer from alcohol and drug use disorders, we are all too aware that they can be taken away at any time. The holidays, in my opinion, are not the time to take a stand.
If you focus on what you can do to change your reaction, rather than trying to change her behavior, you’ll feel more in control of an already stressful time of year.
Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.
Maureen Cavanagh is a peer recovery coach and interventionist who works with families and loved ones supporting a person struggling with a substance use disorder on their own recovery. She is the founder of Magnolia New Beginnings and Magnolia Recovery and Consulting, and the author of If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Addiction and Recovery, published by Henry Holt/Macmillan, and NAADAC-approved FAST: Family-Focused Addiction Support Training. You can learn more about her at www.maureencavanagh.net
Each new edition of MomPower will feature questions from you, our mamas, along with my replies, to help educate and guide you toward the answer that works for your family. If you’d like your concern featured, please send a brief question to Maureen@MagnoliaCS.com with MomPower in the subject line. Reach out. You are not alone.