Setting the kind of boundaries needed to help your child learn on their own, make mistakes, learn, and become independent is hard without adding addiction and alcoholism to the mix. But when you have an addicted child it can seem nearly impossible to set the boundaries between you and them. You’re their parent and you want to help them in every way possible, you want to show them how to get better and make sure they do, you want to make sure they are happy again and most of all you want to save them from themselves. We get it? The truth is though with all these good intentions; you have to be able to set boundaries with your addicted child and that may mean giving up some of that control and want to help even though it’s what you as parent feel you are supposed to do.
Here is how to set boundaries with your addicted child.
Realizing the only control you have, is over yourself. Setting healthy boundaries with your addicted child means taking care of yourself and knowing what you like, need, want and don’t want. Then it means clearly communicating that with the other person.
If you set boundaries with your addicted child you can finally realize you cannot change your addicted child’s behavior by setting rules. Any success in dealing with your addicted child is a result of you setting good boundaries for yourself.
Boundaries with your addicted child are different than rules. Rules are things such as telling your child they are not allowed to use drugs in your home but they are addicts and end up using drugs in your home. You then become angry and frustrated because they didn’t listen. A boundary is saying that you as the parent do not wish to live in a home where drugs are being used illegally and this puts everything on you, you have no reason to be angry, you have complete control of the situation and have several options. YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO CONTROL YOUR ADDICTED CHILD. You choose the actions in your life.
Boundaries with your addicted child must be set after calm and reasonable thinking. Setting boundaries in the heat of an argument will result in failure. Set your boundaries with your addicted child to match your own values. Set the boundaries that control your actions not your addicted child’s.
Here are some examples of boundaries you can set with your addicted child:
1. “Yes, I’ll be happy to drive you to the mall as soon as you’re finished with your chores.”
2. “I want to hear about your day. I’ll be free to give you my full attention in 15 minutes.”
3. “You can borrow my CDs just as soon as you replace the one that you damaged.”
4. “If you put your dirty clothes in the hamper by 9:00 Saturday morning, I’ll be happy to wash them for you.”
5. “Can I give Jessica a message? Our calling hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. I’ll let her know that you called.”
6. “I’m sorry; that doesn’t work for me. I won’t be loaning you money until you have paid me what I loaned you previously.”
7. “You’re welcome to live here while you’re going to college as long as you follow our rules.”
8. “I’m not willing to argue with you.”
9. “I’ll be happy to talk with you when your voice is as calm as mine.”
10. “I love you and I’m not willing to call in sick for you when you’ve been drinking.”
Notice all of these boundaries start with “I” because you are choosing your actions not your addicted child’s. These are great examples on how to set boundaries with your addicted child. If you need to set boundaries with your addicted child, start by figuring out what you want and need, make sure to take care of yourself and maybe look into Al-Anon for you and any other loved ones affected by your addicted child’s behavior.