When Your Kid Breaks Your Heart

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Parents of Substance Abusers

For the parents who mourn their children’s choices, you will have to learn to re-direct your thoughts. Whether your kid is lost in addictions or has had  self-destructive habits, you need to learn to lift yourself out of depression and anxiety.

Do you remember dreaming about your kid—even before birth? Wondering what he or she would be like? You faithfully went through all the stages of growing up with your child, tolerating tantrums, dirty diapers, spider collections, and heartaches. You did everything possible to be a good parent, attending school plays, parent-teacher conferences, play dates, and soccer matches. You spent lots of money on hobbies, activities, violin or karate lessons, the latest clothes, everything. You fell in love with this remarkable little human, knowing full well that your job one day would be to help him or her to grow wings and fly away from you.

When your child became a teen, the thought of your child going away one day didn’t seem quite so terrible. Perhaps this stage helps us to let go as our darling becomes more and more willful. I know it helped me to let go. So, what do you do when your child breaks your heart?

1.    Don’t take it personally.

It’s not about you. Your child made choices, just as you did. Perhaps your child blames you, perhaps not. At any rate, you really need to remind yourself that your child made his or her own choices.

2.    Connect with your spirituality.

Do you have a belief in a bigger picture? Some people connect through their religious practices. Spirituality for other is volunteerism, connecting with nature, or helping humankind in any way that they can. You get to define it. Talk to spiritual leaders or spiritual practitioners that you respect.

3.    What you’re feeling is normal.

You’re grieving. People typically move through stages of grieving as they heal. So whatever emotions you’re feeling—anger, frustration, sadness, depression, guilt—it’s all normal and it’s all part of the process.

4.    Detach with love.

Detaching doesn’t mean that you stop caring about your child. It means that you focus more on moving on with your life. Letting go of hopes, dreams, and expectations is painful. Yet, it’s very necessary….for all of us.

5.    Find peace and joy every day.

As you move on with your life, learn how to make yourself happy. Begin by appreciating the thing that bring you even a small degree of happiness each day. What made you happy in the past? Reconnect with those things.

6.    Look for the positives.

One famous therapy assignment is called, “The Five Best Things About….” So, clients learn to focus on the five best things about having cancer, the five best things about having a son who is a drug addict, the five best things about having a daughter who is a lesbian, etc. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? People often give me an astonished look when I give them this writing assignment. Yet, it really does work. There are glimpses of sunshine in every storm. Learn to look for those glimpses.

Oh, and talk with a therapist if you get stuck. We’re here to help, you know!

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6 Comments on "When Your Kid Breaks Your Heart"

  1. Yvette on Mon, 12th Oct 2009 3:34 pm 

    Thank you for this reminder! I so needed this right now!
    Much love & respect,
    Yvette Wagstaff

  2. Dana on Mon, 21st May 2012 12:16 pm 

    My kids break my heart. all of the above is true. I place my strength in Jesus. I don’t know what I would do with out my spirituality. Reading these ideas helps me. I am feeling like a failure and stuck with no hope. I need to stop trying to fix every ones problems and go on with my own life. It is so hard to let go. Even my teenage grandchildren (boys) 12 & 13. They are both failing school and are disrespectful and defiant. One of them is Gay and the other straight. The straight one doesn’t accept the Gay one. they get along sometimes, but mostly they fight. it makes our household so miserable. I lean on Jesus. I am so tired. I do everything I can to make them feel loved and happy and try so hard to help them in school. they still fail. I know they are angry about their natural parents choices. I fear it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Their father, who just got out of jail is on home confinement in an Oxford House (men’s home) for two months. He hasn’t told them about their new brother (born Dec 17,2012 yet) the mother of this child is a woman they despise unfortunately. He isn’t even really sure this child is his.

  3. JDK on Sat, 25th Aug 2012 12:05 pm 

    My son will be turning 30 in October of this year(2012).For the past 10 yrs he has been drinking and doing drugs.Over the past few years he has become much worse with the drinking.
    Before he would only drink now and again.Now and again has become a daily.
    He called today to come over and pick up his son to take to his place.He said he wasn’t drinking and that he would not drink when his son was visiting.When he got here; I seen a part of my son I had not noticed before.He had been drinking.Another lie and another promise broken.
    It was like a rage; or perhaps an evil and distant person that came here today.He was not my son.When my son was sober; he had so much energy and love.His father would grab him and hug him hard.I would joke and talk with him for hours.Those days seem to be gone now.
    My son is now lost in this haze of alcohol abuse and even drug addiction.I have exhausted my very being trying to help him and trying to reason with him.
    At this point; I see no hope and feel every part of my life that involved him has now been dissolved….melted away with his ”I dont care ; I have nothing to give’ attitude.
    I have lost my son to addiction and I dont know what to do.
    I sit here crying and feeling like my heart has snapped in half.
    My only child; who I loved and cared for deeply has turned on his own mother and drained her of everything decent inside her.

    Thank you for the inspiring message above.

  4. LSB on Sun, 11th Nov 2012 2:24 pm 

    Nice and helpful article. My two sons have broken my heart. My older daughter has rage tantrums (since childhood) toward me and blames me for all is wrong in her life.I couldn´t tolerate her rage anymore and I don´t see her.She doesn´t want to let me see my grandson now.( she is so unaware of what she does)
    My younger son, was a very warm and affectionate son, but she got married with a woman who has changed him. I hardly see him and I had an argument with him asking to give me a phone call of 5 minutes a week. But I won´t do that anymore. I won´t beg for his time or calls.
    I´m doing more or less what the arcticle says. Making my own life, attending to a spiritual group and focusing on what makes me happy.I´m also mounring, I cry a lot, as if all my dreams with them are death. That has helped a lot, I don´t need their love as I used to. But this is the most heartbreaking thing that has ever happned to me. They see me sad, but don´t have a clue of what is going on. They are acting right, and I´m the one who is wrong. I know that their childhood was not the best, but I know that I tried the hardest I could. Guess I need to let go, and let God.

  5. angela on Thu, 31st Jan 2013 1:11 pm 

    i had a partner who was violent and cheated on me for 15 years
    eventually he left me for his second wife i put all my life into bringing up the children however they now treat me like a joke they think he is wonderful even though i made them have a relationship with him never allowed my feeling to matter i am now treated as if i was the parent who left them i try very hard not to say anything but i feel he has everything even though he was the one who did wrong i try very hard not to feel bitter but i feel like i am the one who is always hurt i know i must move on but i feel a failure

  6. Linda on Sat, 9th Mar 2013 4:12 pm 

    Thank you for this post. I needed to read and hear every point today. I am going to save it and refer to it often!

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