Story 8

Detachment is a Parent’s Superpower

Dear Addiction,

What I now know to be “common traps” had my head spinning every day. Where did I go wrong as a parent? Why was my son, who was such a sweet and loving youngster, now so nasty and mean to me, my wife and other family members? I was so confused. How could I possibly make sense of all this madness?

It turns out that a cornerstone concept emerged after a counselor asked me to write a letter from me to the disease of addiction.

In an instant, I got to channel all of my fear, anger and frustrations into a letter directed at the real culprit.

I feverishly wrote:

Dear Addiction,

F – You!!!

You are trying to kill my son.
You are trying to steal his future.
You have turned him into a liar and a manipulator.
You are trying to destroy my marriage and my family.

I hate you with all the hate that a father can hate.

But, there is an antidote and that antidote is sobriety!!

My son will beat you!!

And he will become the man he was destined to be.

Your arch enemy,

Stevie’s Dad

What a liberating moment!

All of a sudden, I saw things so much more clearly. My son was not a bad kid. He had a horrendous disease. It was not his fault. The symptoms of this disease included lying, manipulation, confrontation, anger, poor choices, risky and reckless behavior.

Understanding the symptoms gave me the insight to hear and understand his manipulations and tactics and say to myself: “That is addiction talking to me and not my son.”

Detachment was the superpower that I needed to focus on the disease and what needed to be done.

Detachment is not an easy skill to develop. It is so unnatural for parents to detach from their kid’s negative behaviors. But, it is essential for self-preservation and for changing the dynamics in the household. It takes practice, support and guidance to learn how to unemotionally respond in-the-moment to the nasty ways that the disease manifests itself through our kids. Again, Parent Groups and counselors are indispensable resources for developing this critical skill.

Love the kid, hate the disease!!