Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's "enabling" and why is it harmful?

I don’t follow a lot of celebrity gossip but sometimes hear about something that strikes me, especially when it pertains to my interest in dealing with difficult offspring.

This week I was channel surfing and landed on a Larry King show about Linsday Lohan. I’ve seen her in a couple of movies and this is a talented young woman. She could have a long future in the entertainment business if she survives this stage of her life. She’s apparently had a lot of different problems, and because she is famous, it unfortunately plays out in a very public way. I suspect that compounds the access to trouble and it’s immediately noted whenever anything questionable arises.

The guests on Larry King said she is estranged from her father but close to her mother. Apparently, her father had his share of problems and is now clean and sober. He has been asking for help, asking his daughter and the courts to send her to a treatment facility, asking that the family go to therapy together. The guests indicated that the mother is not on the same page.

I’m sure someone out there follows celebrity gossip and knows more, but only the individuals involved know the whole story.

The details of this case are less important to me than the fact that this is a family that needs help.

It struck me when two of the guests said that when the parent who is close with the child is an enabler, it’s hard to change the pattern.

So what’s an “enabler”? This is a person in the troubled person’s life who contributes to that person’s bad behavior, alcoholism or drug addiction. It could be a family member or close friend who means well but winds up causing more problems by rescuing, lying for, making excuses for the troubled person. These people mean well, they want to help but wind up causing additional problems.

There are two interesting websites about this topic:

I don’t know the Lohan family but I’ve heard similar stories from people who’ve talked with me about their kids and the family dynamics.

Do you/did you have enabling or codependent behavior in your family and what will you/did you do about it?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Speaking at Campbell Library 5/13, 7 pm

I'll be speaking at the library Thursday night and I've really been looking forward to this opportunity. A PDF flier about the event can be viewed here.

The last time I spoke, we had around 20 people in the room. Most of the people had a son or daughter who going through a terrible time, and the adults were worried about how to handle the situation.

I can't provide the answers, just some experiences from my life and the interviews from my book. I also mention some of the calls and emails I've received. There's some comfort in knowing you're not alone in this situation, and it's helpful to know many kids grow out of that terrible stage and that there is help.

If you're in the Silicon Valley, I hope you can come to this event. If you know of another venue interested in this topic, please contact me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

When You’re Not Looking Forward to Mother’s Day

I’m one of those who would like to skip Mother’s Day. It’s not because I’m opposed to it: it is due to my life circumstances.

Mama died in 1973. I have a wonderful mother figure in my dear Aunt Polly, and she has served in that role for many of her nieces and nephews who have lost their parents.

I am fortunate to have a terrific mother-in-law, and I call her “Mom”. She’s been such a wonderful addition in my life, so warm and caring. She welcomed my son and me into her life with open arms, has taken care of us when we needed help and has been a wonderful friend to me. I know how lucky I am.

Then there is the most important part of Mother’s Day for me, my own role as a mom. As my son and I are not on speaking terms at this time, and this brings me the most pain of all of my losses. There is no describing the love I have for him, the worry and the loss I feel.

It is my dearest hope that we will reconcile in the near future. I’ve opened my heart, opened my arms, and have invited him to talk with me. The next step is his.

Until then, I think I’ll do what I’ve done for the past few years: honor my mom, aunt and mother-in-law, hope the day passes quickly and that next year will be different with my son.

You’re welcome to share your thoughts and experiences.