"If you hear the song I sing, you will understand … listen." - Get Together - Jesse Colin Young
It is a cold winter's day and once again my daily readings are chasing, no, stalking me with a common theme. An event I attended last evening also touched upon the same theme I evidently needed to hear. The universe was conspiring again. The theme - Listening.
Our traditional roles as parents are drummed into us by our parents, by television and other media and society. These roles are to offer solutions and guidance to fix whatever is "wrong", to mold our children to societal behaviors, and to console.
In many cases, especially with children at risk of being drawn to addiction we find these traditional roles do not work, not by a long shot. The parent's traditional role of the consoler, though noble, can cause us to ignore the truth. Too often, consolers become enablers. When we become enablers we turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the addiction and simultaneously throw everything we can into saving, fixing and curing the addicted.
How crazy is that? I can say this because I've been there. Many of us have. We couldn't see the insanity of our actions. It is a case of the blind (children) leading the fully sighted (parents) who simply refuse to see.
A true tool of parenting lost in our current culture is the art of listening.
One of the readings asks, "Did we talk too much, too loudly and hysterically when we should have kept silent?" I know my wife has told me on numerous occasions that the times when she has felt closest to me are those when I have simply listened and not offered comments or fixes.
It can be years until we apply these types of lessons to our children. These become lost years.
We can instead, today, now, commit to the THINK principal when responding to crises our addicted children bring our way: Is it Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent (or Insightful), Necessary, and Kind? Our commitment must be total. We must trust in the process, even if the results are not immediate. By thinking things through we can WAIT (translation … Why Am I Talking), listen and be sounding boards to our children.
When we relapse (and we will) and apply traditional parenting methods we may begin to notice something to which we were previously blind. Our families will shut down and go away - any conversation, over. The pain we inflict on our families may become painfully evident. This is a sign of growth, of self awareness. It is one of those painfully good experiences of recovery.
Think about how insulting it is when we go to a friend, co-worker or family member with an issue that has been on our minds and in the blink of an eye, with a few pithy truisms or strongly-worded "shoulds" the pain is supposed to be fixed, ameliorated or eliminated. And all we wanted was for someone to listen.
Add to this insult adolescent self doubt, equal measures of hormonal imbalance, peer pressure and anxiety, a pinch of anger and a child's CERTAINTY that you ARE a douche bag. No wonder our kids shut down with us or worse, go to other souls their age for counsel. This is a perfect recipe for our children who may be drawn to addiction to try a substance or activity in an attempt to find a solution. This is a perfect reason for our children in the abyss of addiction to remain exactly where they are. It is called self medication.
"Did we talk too much, too loudly and hysterically when we should have kept silent?"
The next time we feel compelled to solve, offer solutions, fix or cure, remember to THINK and WAIT. We may just be giving our sons or daughters the opportunity to figure things out for themselves.
It's called empowerment. It is our truest obligation to our children.