Thursday, August 24, 2006
How do you cope when a child goes down the wrong path in life?
I have a Blog of the Week chosen and I even have a partially written post in draft, but I'm waiting for the chosen blogger's responses to my questions before I can publish the post. She sent her responses to me some time ago, but I got over zealous in my efforts to clean out my inbox and I accidentally deleted her email with her attached answers. I'm such a moron sometimes! So, as soon as she gets a chance to re-email me her responses, I'll publish my Blog of the Week post. Stay tuned.

Until then, I have another topic on my mind that's weighing on my heart and I'd appreciate some perspective from my loyal readers.

Here's the deal. I have a cousin (to be referred to as Inara), about 6 years younger than I am, who's in trouble with the law. She was arrested for distributing drugs (meth, I think) and pleaded guilty to a felony conviction. She's now in jail awaiting her sentence.

Let me say, that I'm not writing about this to pass judgment on Inara or her parents. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this tragic situation.

Inara was raised in a loving, Christian home in a small town. She was the baby of the family, the only girl in a family of boys. She went to a private school and was smart, but during her teen years she started having problems with drinking, totaling cars, and probably doing some drugs, although no one ever talked about that part. She did graduate from high school but appeared to have no desire to go on to college as her parents had hoped. She worked odd jobs off and on and moved out of her parents house, moved back in for a time, and then moved back out to live with a friend.

Her parents loved her dearly and did what they could to help her. Her brothers too, although they were a bit frustrated as they watched their parents bailing her out of her minor scrapes over and over again.

Over time, it became blatantly clear that she'd gotten involved seriously in drugs and her parents did their best to encourage her to seek professional help but she wouldn't admit that she had a problem. For a long time, they didn't hear from her, unless she needed something, usually money.

Finally her luck ran out and she found herself in serious trouble with the law, put in jail in fact and facing a prison sentence of up to a year, or possibly more. She didn't tell her parents any of this, another family member found out and made that call to them.

As you might guess, her parents are absolutely devastated by this turn of events. They are agonizing over every minute of parenting their daughter, trying to figure out where they went wrong and what they could've done differently to prevent this from happening.

Now, they are desperately trying to get her into a State funded rehab facility so that she can get help. They couldn't afford to bail her out of jail and, even if they could, they were terrified to do so because they have a strong suspicion that she would flee. They can't afford the $15,000+ to send her to a private rehab facility and there's at least a 90 day waiting list for state funded facilities. Apparently the judge that is about to sentence her is allowing her to spend part of her sentence in a rehab facility.

My heart aches for this family. I've always been close to Inara's parents. They've been very good to me throughout the years, thinking of me as a daughter, not just a niece. I'm particularly close to one of Inara's brothers.

Obviously, I've been keeping Inara and her family in my prayers, although I'm not even sure what exactly to pray for in a situation like this. I guess I've been praying that God give them all strength to get through this adversity and that God bless Inara with the will to want to heal and make positive changes in her life by sincerely seeking professional help.

What I struggle the most with is the fear that this situation can happen with any of our families! I'm not so foolish as to think, "This would never happen to my child," because I know that it very well could! We could do our very best to provide Snuggle Bug with a loving, stable family life and raise him with an understanding of right and wrong but he could make poor decisions in life too. He could get in with a bad crowd in school. He could give in to peer pressure and start doing drugs (or other things) to be part of the "in" crowd or to be more popular.

We don't raise our babies thinking, "I wonder if he'll wind up in jail or become a druggie or worse." We raise them thinking, "I wonder if he'll be an architect, engineer, or even a doctor?"

This morning, as I was leaving the house for work, Snuggle Bug ran up to give me a kiss goodbye. As I turned away he called out, "Mommy" and I turned back just in time to see him blow me a kiss, an impish smile on his face. My heart swelled and I thought to myself, "I will move Heaven and earth to protect you, my child." Perhaps that what Inara's parents were thinking as they watched their child struggle through life.

If I put myself in their shoes, what would I do? I honestly don't know. I pray that I never have to be in those shoes. I pray that Snuggle Bug retains his sweet honesty and innocence as he grows older. I pray that I can help him to form a strong character that will stand by the values that we try to teach him.

Without disclosing information that you feel is too private, have any of you experienced the struggle to cope when your child goes down the wrong path in life? Or have you seen a family close to you go through this? How have you handled such situations? How have others handled it? Does anyone have any words of wisdom to offer on trying to prevent these tragic situations from even occuring? At what point to you, as a parent, pull the plug and withdraw your support in the hopes that your child will learn to solve their own problems and assume responsibility for their actions?

I'll bet you wished I had just posted my innocent Blog of the Week post today, don't you? :) As always, I appreciate your perspective and your support!
9:01 AM

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Beck said...

Oh, that's it. My heart just broke.
That's way too close to a certain situation in my life. There are so many variables that go into how a person turns out - even loving families can have kids who go very, very wrong. I don't think that you ever withdraw your support, exactly, but after a while, you kind of have to let someone sink or swim because if not, you're just enablinng them to keep screwing up with a safety net. Still, it's SO hard. Your poor aunt and uncle. Your poor cousin.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

My Dad was married to a lady for years, her son took a path with his life that no one understood. However painful, I believe letting them go is important. Enabling a drug addict to buy, sell and continue that life is so so so not helpful. Yes it would be great to bail this woman out of jail. Does she want rehab? My step brother was in and out of those places so frequently it made my head spin....It is such a hard place to be in for all the people involved. Your family is in our thoughts ... hugs

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Barb said...

As a parent, this is one of our biggest nightmares, isn't it? You just do everything you know how to do to get them through the scary years and safely into adulthood. I hear this all the time, it happens to so many people who never saw it coming. I agree with everyone else. You have to let go and let them face their music. It has to be hard and I know it's easy for me to sit here and say it, but what else can you do? You're not dealing with a rational person when you're dealing with a drug addict. I so hope she gets into rehab. As awful as it is, maybe this will be what it took to get through to her.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

That is a tough one. I've never been in that situation (obviously as Kayla is only 3!) and I don't have anyone close to me that I know of who have been in such a situation.

I think there is only so much we as parents can do though; we teach them right from wrong, provide them positivie experiences etc. But as they get older and start making their own decisions, well what can you do but pray? Wish I had some wisdom for you!

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Barbie said...

What a very sad situation. I will pray for your family. All I know is that God is Sovereign and that we can trust Him. This could be what your cousin needs for a wake up call. My husband has done prison ministry in the past and many people turn their lives around inside prison. One friend of ours right now was a gang banger and has completely turned is life over to Jesus. Just keep praying. God is able to do anything.

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous cassie said...

Obviously I haven't had this problem with my children, because I don't have any, but this is a problem in my family. With three different cousins. One is currently in jail, another doesn't really keep in touch, and the last one and the one I am closest with is waiting on a trip to court to figure out his outcome. From what I have seen, bailing your child out of jail doesn't solve much. Sure, it's probably what you feel is right, and what you want/need to do but another one of my cousins started getting in trouble like this, and his parents came out and told him no matter what he did they would love him but they weren't going to bail him out because they felt he needed to learn his lesson.

Right how he has a stable job and is engaged with a girl he has been dating for around five years.

As for preventing this kind of thing, there really isn't anyway to be sure it's not going to happen, in my opinion. Well, unless you want to lock your child in a room. But, you can try your best by being involved, knowing your child's friends and hangouts without getting TOO nosey, and let him know you, and the rest of your family love him.

Wow, this is really long, I'm done now.


At 6:04 PM, Blogger Catch said...

This is a tough one for me. My oldest son who is 36 years old has been on drugs for years.I rarely talk about it b/c its very painful. It took me a lot of years to understand that I couldnt make everything all right. As you know my X is an alcoholic. I can only assume that maybe he has his Fathers addictions.....he was raised with much love..but I dont think love stops them from destroying themselves. If only it did. In time I accepted that I could not fix this....but before I accepted that I almost lost my mind over it. He was very young when he started this, in his teens....and he is 36 now and I think he is controlling it through his Doctor, who has him on all sorts of various medication, which Im sure is how he gets his high now. I think now he is a prescription drug addict. ( And yes many Doctors do this). I finally told him you can not come here when you are high or messed up. I couldnt take it. If he wanted to do this and I had no control over it...I didnt have to watch it. And believe me, its a hurt like nothing else to know your child, that you have loved with all your heart and taken such good care of has chose this type of life. He comes here now...I dont care for his wife because I am sure she does drugs too.....but I do tolerate her for him. I have not seen him high or messed up for a couple years now and I am very greatful for that. I think he is better than he used to be...but he was such a good looking boy and had such a great personality and he could have been so many things had he made better choices. I dont know what makes them choose this...I have no clue. My second son is a straight arrow and a prison guard, he is a wonderful husband and father. They were both raised in the same home by the same people so...who can say? If I would have to give any advice based on what I have been through...I cant....I have no advice. Its a nightmare to go through. I stopped giving him money when I realized he used it for drugs....if he said he was hungry I would go and buy him some groceries to avoid giving him money.I am very thankful that we dont go through the drug enduced rages anymore....he would be so very hateful and say things that would cut right through your heart.

Drugs are a real big problem in our nation. They are destoying our country. I dont know why people always have to be high. I have never done drugs.I cant imagine getting up and having to get high on something to face the day. I wonder what all these young people are going to be like when they are older.

I feel for your Aunt and Uncle....I know what they have been though. I wish there were easy answers but there isnt. The only thing I would say is do not enable her to do drugs by giving her money. They will lie, steal and do whatever to get their drugs until they decide they need help. As parents we are helpless against drugs...they are more powerful than all the love we have for our children. We would like to think kids on drugs come from abusive homes...something like that. Not so.....look around you. It is very scary.

Sorry, I seemed to have wrote a book....this is just a subject that is very close to my heart.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Tracey said...

If only there was a right or wrong way to handle this... Each situation and family is so different. I am always amazed when we have issues with Justin at school, and my mind races ahead 10,15,20 years to his future: is this anger or issue with authority going to be the first signs of a drug problem/social deviant/fill in the blank with any horrible scenario you can think of... ?? I can only live in the now and take care of them now. I can't prepare for everything, and we can't live with regrets for every decision we make. Once they're made, it's done. Move on.

That said, I would be the absolute worst parent for a drug addict. I have no sympathy for it. Yes, I smoked for a few years. Yes, I did pot and a few other drugs that I would consider not so good for you. But once I did, I realized that they weren't so great and I just didn't do them anymore. I think that I just have a different tendency towards addiction in that I'm not as addictive as some people. So, I would be the least sympathetic person!

At 3:18 AM, Blogger Catch said...

Tracey: It has nothing to do with sympathy. I am not sympathetic to drug use either. It just has to do with your heart breaking while watching one of your own destroying themselves. No parent is prepared to have a drug addict as a child...its not something you even want to consider. And you are right, each family and situation is so different. Some parents refuse to believe their child is doing drugs...its hard to face. And even harder to accept. As a parent we take good care of our children, make sure they eat right, and try to protect them from harmful things, then to watch them grow up and do something so harmful to themselves is horrible. And no we cant prepare for everything..nor can we live with regrets for every decision we make...we do the best we know how....and usually thats enough. And some kids may try drugs and realize they are not so great and never do them again. Its just hard to know which way they will go and I really wish they had more programs for us parents to learn how to deal with this. Tough love is just that....very tough. On everybody. The whole family suffers. I think that is one of the reasons my middle son was so good, he was 6 years younger than his brother, he knew I was having a hard time...and he would say to me...Mommy come and play nintendo with me so you wont be And I would. And to this day he is still like that with me. He is very comforting, he didnt do drugs, he was a very easy child to raise. And I was so thankful for that. But they both came from the same household...I dont know how they turned out so differently. But anyone who is going through it with their child has my utmost sympathy...because I know their heart is broken.

OW,I didnt mean to use your blog for my soapbox...this post has just brought back so many things. And Tracy I hope you understand I am not saying your wrong.....none of us are good parents for a drug cant be. My sympathy is for the parents who dont deserve all the pain they go through.

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Eagles Wings said...

I've not experienced this, but I want to share a blogger that just posted this morning:
for you to read her journey.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Chappyswife said...

Interesting post and comments. I just do not have any answers. I don't think anyone really knows what they would do unless they end up in this situation, and it is so very common nowadays that everyone knows someone going through it, yet that doesn't make it any easier, and it doesn't provide any answers. All I do know is is that this breaks my heart, so I know it is breaking our Father's Heart. Maybe Jesus will come back soon!

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Granny said...

I don't know where to begin with this one. I was raised by a loving Christian family who did the best they could with the two of us. It didn't matter; if anything I was rebellious. Some kids can have that short period of rebellion and get right back on track. For others it's the beginning of the long slide to self-destruction. Why? Who knows. Probably the way we're wired.

Short version. I've been sober coming up on 27 years now and I've watched members of my family and many others struggle.

There are no easy answers. I walked into an AA meeting in December 1979 and never looked back. For others, it takes years of struggle and some never make it. Alcohol (and drugs) is cunning, baffling, powerful, and many of us add patient. Addiction is insidious.

I know mandated outpatient treatment programs don't work too well unless a person is willing to let them work. Inpatient treatment is somewhat more successful but very expensive.

Jail usually teaches the addict more skills although there are some success stories.

So. If intervention and years of support and agonizing by the family hasn't worked sometimes all the family can do is let the addict go with love and concentrate on their own recovery. If can be the hardest thing a family ever has to do but it may save an addict's life. (I use addict and alcoholic interchangably but my personal experience was with alcohol only). A blessing.

I wouldn't presume to advise anyone on spirituality. We each pray (or don't) in our own way. Mine might not be yours.

I do recommend Al-Anon and Alateen, the two programs for families and friends of alcoholics. They use the same 12 Steps. If nothing else, the family will know they're not alone. The Big Book of AA says "an alcoholic is a tornado roaring through the lives of others". So sad and so true.

This was much too long and I don't know if I've helped. I wish Inara's parents peace and I pray in my own fashion that she will find her way.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

Yes we have. I will need to sit down to write more about it so remind me if I forget. God Bless!

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delurking today... I love your blog theme it is so beautiful.

I have read your blog now and again, and always read your comments on other blogs I frequent.

I have written a rather long post as a result of yours. It effectively exposes a huge piece of my life that many people have never known about.

I don't know how to insert links in comments so I am just going to provide the link this way.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Tara Marie said...

I believe As parents, all we can do is love our children, guide them, provided them with education and the tools to make good choices. As they grow, we find ourselves praying [even if we are not the praying type] that as they fly solo, the foundation and love we provided them will carry them through the hard times, the trying times, the vulnerable times........

Last night I had to experience that 'letting go' as my oldest child [with her newly recieved drivers license] heading out for the first time driving solo. I reminded her of safety and responsibility, but as she pulled out of the driveway, I sat and prayed that she would use care and good judgement. That is all I could do at that point.

My parents are wonderful people, they raised four of us the same way as above, with love, respect and guidance. Three of us are college+ graduates. One never traveled that path, he marched to his own drummer. Beloved and cared for, by his parents and family, his life journey was difficult [by his own choices]. I watched my parents struggle just as Inara's parents are. I had to cut ties with my brother as I refused to allow him to be around my children if he had been drinking [which seemed something he did often]. Six months before his tragic death, he became sober. We all thought he had finally slayed his dragon.

My parents are wonderful people, they raised four children with love, respect and guidance.....that is all a parent can do.

Sometimes that drum beat can not be softened......sometimes it hurts to let go.

At 6:05 AM, Blogger Mom101 said...

I'm so sorry about this. I have a cousin who ended up in a similar situation, and currently a brother-in-law who's headed that way. Jail is surely the next step. My understanding is that it is not a perfectly happy well-adjusted kid that suddenly out of nowhere ends up in this situation. It's often a result of them unwittingly self-medicating a mental illness, or coping with issues that were never noticed or addressed. I think the best we can do, as tara above said, is to pay attention, and raise our children with love and respect.

I wish her the best.


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It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

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