Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Parent’s Declaration of Independence by Theresa Froehlich

Today's guest blogger is Theresa Froehlich. She is a writer, speaker, Certified Life Coach, and ordained minister. She has been married 28 years and is the mother of two young adult children.

For parents in pain - whether it is the result of a child’s addiction, failure in school, estranged relationship, or failure to move forward with life - the most difficult challenge is managing emotions.

After my husband and I discovered that our daughter, eighteen-years old and a college freshman at the time, became an alcoholic, my range of emotions were all over the map: fear, depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame and despair. A year later, our son went off to college, crashed and burned because of his computer and online video gaming addiction. My emotional workout then ramped up to the post-doctoral level!

During the last few years, I have reflected a great deal on how parents in pain can manage their emotions, regain sanity, and get on with life. This strategy (more fully described in my book now being considered for publication) is based on our declaration of independence, the relentless detachment from the problem child.

1. I acknowledge that my child’s destiny is no longer bound up with mine.
2. I admit I am powerless to change my child.
3. I respect my child as the sole captain of her ship.
4. I choose to steer my own ship, and mine alone.
5. I refuse to let my child’s poor choices determine how I feel.
6. I refuse to view my child’s achievements as my source of joy; instead I give my child the credit that is due to him.
7. I respect real life as a competent teacher for my child, and therefore I can resign from being the teacher/leader.
8. I admit I have a journey of personal transformation to make, but I will not accept responsibility for my child’s poor choices.
9. I admit that I am also a learner, just as much as my child has been. Therefore, I deal with my own shortcomings and learn to forgive myself of my mistakes.
10. I rest in the confidence that God can do a much better job at changing people than I can, but I also accept God’s timeline as different from mine. Therefore, I suspend judgment, relinquish fear, and patiently wait for God’s timing.

What situation do you work with? What are the challenges you face in managing emotions? What strategies have you used?

I blog about these topics at http://www.transitionslifecoaching.org and would like to invite you to visit me there. Please join in the conversation so we can connect and support one another.

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  1. I'm going to bookmark this and read it each day to help me through this difficult time. Today I filed an emergency order of protection against my daughter. I'm physically sick about it. It had to be done, though, for my own sanity and safety. She's 18 and refuses to grow up...no job, no drivers license. She's thrown demands, insults, and punches at me for too long.

    1. I'm very sorry to read about your daughter. I know how terrible it feels as a parent to see your child go down the wrong path. I hope you find the help and support you need.

      If you can get to counseling, that can help. You can go to Al Anon as many people are there due to family problems, and it helps to see where you may have enabled and how good it was for you to stop.

      You have to carry on and hope she grows up soon. In the meantime, take care of yourself.