Parents: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!
Who’s to blame? No one! In my opinion, what you’re up against has a problem that has a life of its own. It takes over and can steal your son or daughter away from you while you are sleeping. You hardly notice it and, when you do, it’s often disguised as something else. It’s not the result of poor parenting. If your child has alcoholism, it is the result of a family disease that is largely attributable to genetics. It has very little to do with the environment or “shaping” of the child by anyone. It has to do with the inability to process alcohol and possibly any mood-altering chemical normally. Plese visit this link http://abcrecoverycenter.org/
In all other areas, your child may be normal or even exceptional, thereby deceiving you into thinking that he or she is too smart to continue this forever. Well, it matters not if you are rich or poor, healthy or sick, happy or not happy, good looking or not, intelligent or not – this problem does not discriminate. It will prey on any class of people. It’s not the result of poor parenting.
Teens from very functional homes have alcoholism. George Vailliant (1981) looked at personality profiles of alcoholics before they drank and found them to be somewhat “normal.” Family therapists have noticed for decades that when they are working with the family and this problem comes up, there are usually alcoholic family members on at least one side of the family. This suggests that the problem “runs” in the family, is genetic. Many functional people have the problem. You know this yourself from the media reports. Not all of them can be wrong!
This is not a disgrace. Yet it is still being treated thusly. Don’t be one of the misinformed or uninformed that still judges alcoholism as the result of laziness of immorality. There are treatment centers just for the clergy. There are treatment centers for professionals. There are twelve step meetings just for M.D.s and lawyers and so on. These are not a lazy, stupid, depraved or immoral class of people. The disease does not discriminate.
Once you are educated, it is easier to let go of the guilt. In my thirty-six years as a therapist, I have not met many parents who did not feel guilty. However, it is not logical to feel guilty. Have you really done wrong? Did you give them the ability to tolerate incredible quantities of alcohol? Did you take away their motivation? Did you make sure they would develop character flaws such as lying, cheating or stealing? No! You did not. They did not plan this either.
In my practice, I often come upon families with this problem and always ask the parents if they feel like they have lost their child. Invariably, the answer is yes. When we trace the onset of alcohol abuse, we usually find that the child changed in behavior and personality about this time. This is significant. This begins the dysfunctional separation and alienation of the teen from the family, which usually leads the family to alienate the teen out of desperation and feelings of powerlessness. As parents, we must not succumb to this. With the proper direction and action as a team, healing and redirection are possible. It takes family work.
So go ahead! Feel guilty if you must. However, you don’t have to. If you do, take some action that will get rid of the guilt. Then let it go. Move on to treatment. Get help from a qualified, licensed professional. Take your child to AA. Go to AL-Anon yourself and drag your spouse there also. Do not be embarrassed. It’s not the result of poor parenting.
Lastly, don’t sabotage treatment. Get help instead of continuing to do this by yourself. Find out how a teenager can take the steps to sobriety and follow the model thoroughly and consistently over time. The disease has a life of its own and wants to cripple you just as it wants to cripple the alcoholic. It’s out to destroy. Don’t let it. Get help and heal!