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Author: Katara LaBrie

The Opposite of Parenting

My son asked me when we had stopped being his parents. I am learning that parenting a child with addiction issues is counter-intuitive.  “No” has become my go-to response.  Will you pay my rent? Will you loan me money?  Will you co-sign for me?  Will you drive me somewhere? Other late teen and adult children in our family get different answers to those questions based on their life choices.  It is very hard to have different standards within my family but necessary.  All of the parenting decisions have to be considered in light of each particular child’s needs.  My son does not need my enabling.  And “yes” would most often feed into his current distorted reality. The mindset of a good parent is to help their child grow into a productive, happy, healthy, responsible human.  Sometimes, what feels like the opposite of parenting is actually parenting at its hardest and...

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Allowing Yourself to Laugh

If you are new to this terrible understanding of addiction, you may not be ready to see the humorous side. For those of us who have been living with it for a while, we have to laugh as often as possible. Sometimes the situation is so absurd the only healthy response is to laugh.  Like when my son asked me to drive him to a job interview (yes).  Could we stop at Sarah’s on the way so he can smoke a few bowls first? (no & cue the laugh track) When it all seems so ludicrous, allow yourself to laugh.  Not in ridicule and not in the presence of your loved one. But allow yourself to recognize the humor and be okay with it. Your laughter loosens the pressure valve just a...

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The Simpsons Thanksgiving

I love to cook and I’m really good at it.  Cooking is one way that I express love so Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite festivity of the year. I plan for days what our dinner will look like – family, friends, food, and tradition.  But holidays are also a time of tremendous stress for a lot of families who have addiction as a guest at the table. Will he show up? Will she show up high? Will the grandparents freak out? Am I being judged by my perfect siblings with their perfect children? If you’ve been dealing with addiction for a while you know the odds of the Norman Rockwell dinner are pretty low and it’ll probably look more like The Simpsons. Several years ago a friend decided to make new memories rather than dwell on past holidays gone awry.  He now looks forward to making peanut brittle and takes joy in delivering it to friends. Spend time early Thursday morning doing something for yourself – breathe deeply, read the paper with a latte, pray, walk, run, yoga. Whatever it is, make it just for you. Let go of your expectations of others and fill your mind with Thanksgiving for the ones you love....

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Halloween is a big deal in my neighborhood. Streets are closed off and everyone comes out for the neighborhood party. This year, my husband and I were invited to tag along with a group of friends following after their 6 middle school sons. It was so fun – pizza & haunted houses, UFOs and plenty of candy. These goofy boys had made ridiculous and inventive costumes.  It was also bittersweet. As we spent the evening watching the kids goof off and just enjoy the event, it was always in my mind that my son missed out on this part of childhood. My husband would squeeze my hand and I knew he was feeling the same loss. Our son was in middle school when he began to try different substances. We had no idea. His struggle took over very quickly and by the beginning of high school it ruled his life. He gave up everything he once cared about. Whenever I see boys around his age, I am reminded of how many good and positive experiences he missed during these years. Soccer games, school dances, driver’s training, college visits, graduation; these were all traded away for the next high. I don’t know if my son has any understanding of what he’s lost. I suspect not. That would require a painful acknowledgment that he had allowed the drugs to steal so much from...

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