Friday, July 1, 2016

Letting go of Tough Love....an article.

A friend shared this article with me on letting go of tough love. It articulately explains exactly where I am at. After years of willing myself to dole out the principles of tough love, and having it not work, I have come around to a different place. The principles of CRAFT and Alanon, and my faith have brought me into a new place that I am grateful to be in, that feels true to my heart and my conscience.

Recently in a meeting a newcomer dad shared that he texted his daughter messages and scriptures. "Is that ok?" he asked. Several in the room shared, but what struck me was that none of those sharing had walked in his shoes, or even a similar walk, none had a child "qualifier." There was talk about enabling, letting go, taking care of one's self.....all was good information, but did not come from a place of implementing those tools with their offspring. This dad, this broken hearted man, asking if it was ok to reach out to his broken and lost child... Doing what any kind human being would do. Finally it was my turn to share..."I hear you and I too am living what you are right now. I will just say that acts of kindness are not enabling. Sending a kind text message letting her know that you have not given up on her, is not enabling. Feeding your hungry child is not enabling. Being respectful and gentle is not enabling. Kindness is not condoning."  I hope he comes back. It's all so confusing in the beginning, and there are so many opinions.

On to other topics......I have been home all day. It's been so nice. I changed our sheets, am doing laundry, am drinking coffee with cream and blogging at the table, while Molly sits next to me working on resumes for some of her clients in her job developer position, with 4 of the 6 dogs laying around our feet. Little One is still in Louisiana for another week. I am missing my sweet girl, but know she is in good hands. 

Yesterday my son, my first born, turned 30! I have a 30 year old adult child. He said, "I still feel 21!" I told him I didn't think it was a good idea to broadcast that. Lol I reminded him of the day of his birth and how he was the first one to teach me what it meant to love someone more than myself. How in love I was from the very first minute I laid eyes on him. I was 21 and thought I knew everything. I was in for a shock! If I only knew then what I know now. I immediately started eating fresh vegetables and being aware of protein because the fullness of needing my breast milk to be the very best, the most nourishing that it could be, became very real to me as I watched this sweet little baby boy seek out his nourishment from my body. Oh gosh, we had so much to figure out. He cried in his crib and I tried the "cry it out" method but I was miserable, crying outside his door. We both were in tears. Finally the dad came up behind me and said, "Who said we HAVE to do it this way?" That was all it took.....I went and got him and wiped up his snotty tear covered face and he slept with us and we were all at peace. No more hysterics, no more missing out on sleep, we got to wake up to a happy baby beside us...thank god for my hubs who is rational when I get stuck on something. "The book says....." LOL 

Praying for us always. 
Annette



6 comments:

Mark Goodson said...

Happy birthday to your son! I bookmarked that article you mentioned to read further into the tough love issue. I was raised on it, that's for sure.

Groundhog Girl said...

I too was convinced to try the 'cry it out' method and barely lasted an hour. Same as you, crying for my child who didn't understand. I caved that night and went and got her and cuddled her and allowed her to feel the forever safe in my arms that I wanted her to know. Later that week I commented to a stranger who was cooing over my baby, that I wasn't doing very well with the cry it out method and she said 'oh honey don't you worry about that. She won't be climbing into bed with you after a hard day at work, it's only when they are little and need to know you are still there' That woman, bless you wherever you are, changed my parenting and I fully embraced doing what felt right for me and my child.
Your comments to that struggling dad I am sure meant the world to him. You have opened my eyes to so many opinions I have picked up over the years and thankfully through reading here I can examine the validity of them for me. You are making me a better parent through your sharing. Thank you.

Birdie said...

Your two very different paragraphs tie together so beautifully. Keep those you love close to your heart. I hope that man continues to share with his daughter in that very simple way. Sending a text is such a beautiful and simple way to let her know over and over again that she is loved and thought about.

When I had my babies I couldn't let them cry it out either. Even at the time where I read all the books on baby care like they were scriptures. Everyone around me told me to let them cry it out. As a very emotional person who cries a lot I have never, not once, felt better when I was ignored and left to cry it out. So I did as you. I brought my babies to my bed. That was where they belonged.

Linda deV said...

Interesting how I too felt like I knew so much when I was that age, but at 52 I am still waiting to feel like a grown up. How odd and contradictory.

I love your heart and how it seeks to walk through this world...softly.

Anonymous said...


Dear Annette,

I want you to know that your thoughts on love and addiction and tough love has changed me and how I interact with my daughter. If you ever wonder is anyone is listening, I want to assure you ... I am.

I am here and I am listening and praying right along with you. For our daughters, for all the other daughters, and the sons, and the moms and the dads and the siblings. For all of us, really.

I started Al Anon three years ago and I needed it. It was the missing piece for me. It's been helpful and I have made some very good friends there, but it's not the be all and end all. I have a lot of tools in my bag to deal with the addiction issues that touch my life: Al Anon for sure, parts of The Compassionate Addict, my background as a psychologist, and that gut feeling you have as a mom about your particular child. One of my tools though, for years, has been the many many things I have learned from you and I want you to know that today.

I decided six months ago that if the worse thing happened and I lose my daughter, I want her to know that she is loved and valued. So I have limits and boundaries but I keep in touch, almost all the time. Random texts. Saying goodnight, love you, take care of yourself, I hope you're safe. I don't think straight tough love really works. Parts do, as in don't rush to rescue etc... Research is showing that the family remaining in touch aids recovery. Like you, I also tell my daughter stories from when she was little because I want her to remember who she really is. I want to remember who she really is. She is on rehab number 4.5 as we speak. I have come to realize there is no straight path to healing and we just have to keep at it. At least that's how I feel today.



Love,
Mrs. Dubose


Annette said...

Mrs. Dubose, you and I have been traveling this journey together for quite awhile now. I want you to know that your comment meant so very much to me. It's a comfort to know that you are out here and reading my thoughts. While I love the 12 steps, and I love my Alanon program and all of my friends there, you are so right, in that it is not the whole picture. When I went to my parent coaching training the then president of drug free org, said it's important to remember that Alanon was created for the *wives* of alcoholics. Not parents. The parent relationship is a very different relationship than a marriage relationship. Very true words! Bless you Mrs. D. Thanks for reaching out.....