We might go out of our way to avoid a conflict or dealing with a challenging issue with our kids. We might feel like we are not equipped to deal with complex problems or that if we ignore these issues, they will go away on their own. But, when we embrace the struggle, we move through these issues, learn from them, and help our kids grow into healthy adults.
When we avoid the struggle, we can set our kids up for failure or send them the wrong message about their issues — and themselves.
The Danger of Avoiding the Struggle
Avoidance of problems with the family is the same as denying that anything is wrong. When a child struggles with addiction, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, we might deny the problem to avoid feeling shame and judgment from others. Unfortunately, the negative stigma continues, and the cycle never ends.
When we avoid getting into the struggle with our kids, when we avoid doing the work necessary to help them, we might set our kids up to do the same with their children. Kids learn by our example as role models — whether we want them to or not. We could be setting up a pattern of avoidance for generations to come.
Many parents might have also struggled as kids yet received no support or help from their parents. They might think, “I turned out okay; my kids will be fine, too.” But, are we really okay? Are we fine? Or are we avoiding issues of our own?
Embracing the Struggle Means Facing Ourselves
Treatment that involves the entire family is crucial for recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. We might assume that we can just send our kids out to treatment, and they can be fixed. Then, once our child who struggles is “fixed,” the whole family will be okay.
Not dealing with our child’s struggles might mean that we are avoiding facing our own issues. We cannot help our kids when we are also damaged and struggling. We cannot expect our kids to behave better than ourselves.
If we set the standard of avoidance for our kid’s problematic behaviors, we are setting the example that denial and avoidance are options for dealing with problems.
Working on Ourselves
We cannot expect to have a happy and healthy home without first looking at ourselves. As Aaron Huey of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center states in many podcasts and coaching calls, we need to take care of ourselves first, our adult relationships second, and then we can do the best work with our kids.
Parenting workshops at treatment facilities and peer support for ourselves can be helpful for us. Most parents feel better once they realize they are not alone — other parents have been in our shoes before, and they have learned to embrace their own struggles.
Embracing Our Struggle
What conflicts are we avoiding within ourselves? For example, are we worried about getting our kids in treatment because we worry about what having a teen who struggles says about our parenting skills? Do we think our child’s problems are a reflection of ourselves?
We can embrace our own struggles and then embrace the struggle with our kids. As parents of teens who struggle, we are not alone. Many other parents have been through the struggle and got their kids back. If we have faced issues in our childhood that felt unresolved, let’s end the cycle.
When we get comfortable being vulnerable, sharing our issues with others, learning coping skills and self-care, and healing ourselves, we strengthen to deal with the struggle our kids face. We can be the warrior that they need us to be.
Teach Our Kids to Embrace the Struggle
By moving through our child’s issues together as their ally, we teach them to embrace the struggle. We teach them not to be ashamed of their problems; whether they have an addiction, mental health disorder, ADHD, or other issues, we show them that these issues are not character defects. Instead, the struggle can help us grow, but it does not define us.
When we avoid the struggle, we unintentionally send the message that our kids are not worth the effort, that they are hopeless and will just need to deal with it. On the other hand, by embracing the struggle and walking through the fire with our kids, we teach them that they can get to the other side and lead a happy, healthy life in recovery.
The struggle will not be easy. But when we learn to accept our kids for who they are now, for better or worse, we show them that there is hope for everyone.
Parents of teens who struggle might feel alone in their issues. They might feel shame about their kid’s behavioral problems. Addiction, depression, anxiety, running away, promiscuity, cutting — all of these are treatable issues. Once we accept and embrace the struggle that our kids are dealing with, we can begin the recovery process. We might need to deal with our struggles first or continue to work on ourselves as our kids are in treatment. Family work is critical in recovery, and working on ourselves is an essential step in getting our kids back. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, understands that family work is vital to a child’s recovery from addiction and mental health issues. We offer parenting workshops and coaching to help you as your child begins their recovery journey. Call Fire Mountain today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest!