Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gratitude (and the three things you might owe your child.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, August 03, 2007

The last time we met at Eastern, the theme of the group was Gratitude. A lot of good things were said. Mary suggested that I post about it- I thought it was a good idea- but here two weeks have flown by, we meet at Eastern again tomorrow, and I'm just now getting to it...

Time really does fly by, don't you think? In no time at all, our situations will have completely changed. Our teens will no longer be teens. We will be significantly older. And all the memories that we are making now will be just that- memories.

Recently, I turned a year older. These last few years, I have not enjoyed seeing the next birthday come. I think I'm just way to old to want to be a year older. This year for me was different. Maybe I am over the hump now and another year just doesn't matter. When you are my age its' like if you are really dirty, covered in mud, and wet down to your bones, and you see a mud puddle coming up. Why even walk around it? With all the dirt I got on I figure I'll just walk right through. Maybe another birthday just doesn't matter if you are already in your late fifties. What's one more?

On the other hand, maybe that's not it at all- forget the mud analogy. Maybe it was all the gratitude talk at that meeting two weeks ago that did it. Anyway, I felt grateful for this birthday. It means that I got to enjoy another year on this earth. That's not something that is given out to people each year. Some of us will never get another year. For some of us- our time has run out.

And as I mentioned on the Coffe House Nation blog, I felt Jessica B's presence at the Pirate Game. The empty seat was next to her closest friend. And she was only 18. And she will not be around another year. It's just hard for me to regret getting one more year older, when that intelligent, beautiful talented young lady will never see 19.

So, lately I think I have been thinking a lot about my blessings. About my grandchildren for example. And about my grown up kids. And about my family. Don't get me wrong- I have regrets- but they don't really seem as big as they did last year.

Of course, we want our teenagers to be grateful. It's important. For one thing, look at all the damn stuff we do and we did for them! They ought to be grateful! They owe us that, don't they? And secondly, we know if they loose their gratitude, they can't stay clean. So, we get scared when they show this sense of entitlement- that the world owes them everything! Just because. Just because we brought them into this world I guess.

But where do they get off with that sense of entitlement anyway? Where did they learn it? Who did they get that off of? TV? Friends? Drugs? Wonder if they get any of it from us? You see, many of us have that sense of entitlement too. We have it when we face our kids. "After all I've done for you- you do this to me?" For example, when a teen relapses, this is often what parents say or at least think to their kids.

I wonder sometimes if it would be easier to have a oppositional defiant child who grows up to have many issues including drug addiction or if it would be easier to have a Downs syndrome child who lives to teen years. Either condition can lead to fatality at an early age. Both conditions must cause a lot of stress on the family. Apples and oranges? Perhaps. But I think for some people, the Downs baby would be easier even though it would in so many ways be more heart-breaking. The difference, I think, is that a parent would know that the Downs baby did not choose to be that way. They are innocent. But the drug addict- he chooses to hurt his family, the same family that has given him so much and sacrificed so heavily. He can go on to live a normal life - but he chooses to be a drug addict.

So, I don't have an answer to that one. I know, I know, I have the radio shack reputation- you got questions- Lloyd has answers. But some of this is just hard to wade through. What are we grateful for when our oppositionally defiant drug addict teenager just won't get it? How do we keep the focus on our own gratitude, when he keeps relapsing?

And now I am reminded again of what Ed B http://relapse-psst.blogspot.com/2007/07/if-addict-is-going-to-relapse-there-is.html said at our Greentree meeting about a month ago. He asked himself what it was that he owed his son, who also struggles with this disease of addiction. He only came up with three things. First: unconditional love. As Ken mentioned at a recent meeting, this really means that one refuses to withhold love in an effort to control his addicts drug abuse.

Second: Responsibility. I like to think of this as accountability. The parent refuses to enable his son out of the consequences of his addicition. Consequenes help us learn. We learn from failure in a much more effective way sometime than we learn from success. So, a Parent allows their child to fail especially if he is active in his drug addiction.

Third: lead by example. Indeed, demonstrating a good example of a healthy person in pursuit of happiness is a gift to your child. A gift that by the way, may keep giving long after you are dead, because we never really forget our parents and we study them with an intensity that we usually do not show for other people.

This last is where we can demonstrate gratitude. It is so much more powerful to be grateful and to show your teenager that you are grateful for whatever your blessings are, than it is to motivate them to be grateful by lecture or talking them into it.

As Mary pointed out, Gratitude is contagious. So, is a lack of gratitude. They are both contagious. Let's decide which we want to attempt to pass on to our teenagers. And then let's get moving. We have today. Tommorow isn't promised. Either we might not be here- or our teenager might not be here.

If you have read all this, you may be saying "that's easy for you to say, you don't have the cross that I have to bear." Well, you don't know the other person's cross though do you? We all have them. They just come in different forms.

Anyhow, let me close this by telling one really big thing that I am grateful for. YOU. All of you. all of you have taught me so many things in our meetings and outside of our meetings too. As your child's Probation Officer I keep learning off of you all daily. People sometimes ask me why I choose to work every Saturday morning when I don't have too. They might not understand. I love going to work on Saturday Mornings. It's the best part of the week, and I am very lucky to get to work with all of you wonderful people. You are all the best- you are my heroes. You toil endlessly to save your children's life. What better thing is there to do? Yes, they pay me- but if money was no object- I would do this just for fun and for personal growth. So, to all of you terrific parents out there- thanks.


Anonymous said...

As a parent I have played out the "sick child" scenario many times. Thank God my child does not have a brain tumor, Downs syndrome, cancer...the list goes on. It is an exercise in gratitude but that feeling that they did this to themselves always lingers in the background. It seems that with these other conditions it was the "luck of the draw" or the wheel of life but our kids somehow caused this.

10 teens drink beer at a party. They all made bad decisions, but for one, the luck of the draw means they can't stop.

The consequences of that bad decision were devastating in a way like nothing anyone ever heard of or expected or at least nothing a teen could relate to or begin to understand. And parents don't get it either. When we start to teach our kids to run , physically run away screaming, at the first sign of drugs like we teach them about "Stranger Danger" then we might have a shot at helping them make the right decision or at least avoid this wrong one.

Anonymous said...

For me, GRATITUDE is an essential part of my life just as breathing is... Without Gratitude I would be a victim of my circumstances.

Melody Beattie writes in "The Language of Letting Go", Today, I will be grateful. I will start the process of turning today's pain into tomorrow's joy." This book is written as a daily meditation reflecting on principles of recovery. The two dates in the book on Gratitude were eerily familiar. The first date was the day my Mother was diagnosed with Leukemia. The 2nd date was the day I separated from my husband and moved into an apt after 21 years. Is it odd or is it God??

I am grateful that my Mother was a part of my life for 27 years. I am grateful for loving a man and having 3 beautiful children. I am grateful for my alcoholic father. I am grateful for this upbringing, I can handle any crisis that comes my way. It has made me who I am. I am grateful that I really like who I AM. I am grateful my brother was given 39 years of life on this beautiful planet. I am grateful my 20 year old son is choosing recovery TODAY.

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Gratitude is more than a word to me. It is a way of life.


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