Working with teens in recovery, one of the lessons parents (hopefully) learn early on is that patience and tolerance is our code. It has to be—even if we don’t like what they do, say, or otherwise.
It is the unfortunate eventuality of every parent that one day, his or her child will no longer value their parents’ opinions over those of their friends. While this does have its advantages, it can seem like a near universal negative.
One day, though, the pendulum swings the other way. Plus, as outright irritating as our kids can sometimes be (let’s be honest here), we serve as examples, and if we act as examples of people they want to emulate, ultimately they come back looking to us for answers.
However, in the meantime, that means that we have to let them make their own mistakes—and their own successes. Let’s face it: no one ever has all the answers, no matter how brilliant and experienced we think we are. And that is good, because it means we can always learn.
Our teens in recovery can be great teachers themselves, as can their friends. Despite the similarities that we all share by being connected in recovery, we also have our own unique experiences. With those unique experiences come unique ways of meeting challenges…ones that we won’t always be quick to embrace.
But that is the beauty of being a teen in recovery—our clients and our children can learn from the often-horrible experiences they’ve endured, and their endurance and perseverance can help us cope in ways that we had never imagined being able in the past.
In my line of work, we see and hear every imaginable horror, and yet, that keeps no one from trying to better his or her life. No one—under any circumstance—is allowed to throw in the towel. So long as we are above ground, there is a chance.
But this is a team effort, and teens in recovery need parents that understand certain sacrifices must be made to reach the greater goal.
I have yet to meet a single family who had the same life plan that started and ended exactly as intended. Yet, that is the narrative that we brought up to believe. Too bad narratives are often fictional.
If a teen in recovery is getting home late from a meeting on a week night, and their enthusiasm for sobriety is high, please ask yourself what the bigger grievance would be: coming home late, clean, sober, and excited for the future; or so drunk and high they might not be able to stand up?
Teens in Recovery Need Parents’ Help–Not Hassles
First and foremost should always be recovery. Period. If that means being taken out of school, so be it. Often times, it is for the best. To keep a child in a dangerous situation because it might look better on their transcripts or some other comparatively trivial reason just isn’t worth the gamble.
In the end, we all do what we have to do, and to do it with grace is a challenge. In the end, we need to remember that surrender isn’t giving up—it’s coming over to the winning side.