Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good advice for parents of teens

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter by Mark Gregston, who is an author, speaker, national radio host, and the founder of Heartlight, a residential counseling center in Texas for struggling adolescents. Yesterday, his most recent newsletter arrived in my e-mail inbox.

The subject of the newsletter was "Never Give Up Parenting a Difficult Teen." One paragraph of the newsletter especially screamed out to me, so I thought I'd share it here. I need to start following this great advice:

"It’s easy to be so overwhelmed by problems with your teen’s behavior that you fail to recognize any progress. Progress is not 'problem solved.' Progress means steady improvement. So, if your child is screaming at you every day, and then only yells at you once every other day – then that’s progress! Finishing some of his homework, when he previously did no homework, is progress. Effective parenting requires that you look at the big picture while focusing on just a few problems at a time; then applauding any progress, no matter how small. Refuse to make your teen’s lack of a complete turnaround to be your constant disappointment. Turnarounds rarely happen overnight. Instead, applaud every step in the right direction, even if it is a small one."

Pretty damn enlightening, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One of those days

Today is one of those days. Ever since I woke up this morning, my head has been filled with negativity. I keep asking myself stuff like, “Where did I screw up? Or, “Am I just a terrible parent?” Or, “Is it all my fault?” All the stuff I’m not supposed to feel is stuff I’m feeling today. And I hate it.

I’ve been trying really hard to be more positive lately. But I’m human. The negative thoughts do enter my mind. And when they do, they tend to put me in a pretty nasty headlock.

A friend of mine posted a quote on his Facebook page yesterday:

“Positivity is complex and draining yet fruitful. Negativity is simple and lazy yet worthless.”

I need to get out of this funk today and try and remember that quote more often. Maybe I should have it tattooed on my forehead or something.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No smoking

It's just before midnight on Sunday, October 11th. I just realized a few minutes ago that I quit smoking exactly 19 years ago today. That's 6,940 days ago. And I haven't cheated once. Best thing I ever did for myself. And something I'm very proud of.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three out of four ain't bad

Today was a beautiful day in southeastern Michigan: partly sunny and 55 degrees or so. It was the perfect day for a family trip to the cider mill, and that's what my wife and I tried to pull off. Unfortunately, one member of our family (guess who) couldn't get out of bed.

We tried a couple of times to light a fire under him, but we were unsuccessful. Disappointing? Yes. But instead of letting that put the kibosh on the cider mill trip, we decided to just leave him at home. So my wife and I took our youngest son to the cider mill, drank some cider, ate some warm, greasy donuts, and then stopped and had a late lunch/early dinner on the way home.

Even though the family was only three-quarters complete, today's trip was sort of refreshing. We didn't let the actions of my oldest son change our plans for the day, and that seems like a big step forward for us.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


We've had some issues with dishonesty in our house lately. Sometimes--actually, most of the time--dishonesty can hurt even more than the addiction. I never thought I would say that, but it's true. Honesty, along with trust, is such an important part of any relationship. And when I discover that my son hasn't been truthful with me, it's like a punch in the gut.

I have given so much of myself over the last few years to try and help my son. Asking for honesty in return seems like such a small thing. But dishonesty is indeed a part of the makeup of an addict. I was reminded of that by this passage from Addict in the Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery:

"Closely related to denial is dishonesty. Dishonesty encompasses the evasiveness and lies, big and small, that addicts employ in their attempts to control the world . . . A small joke that hints at the denial and dishonesty at the heart of an addict's world goes like this: An alcoholic will steal your wallet and lie about it. A drug addict will steal your wallet, then help you look for it."

I often wonder if I will ever be able to totally trust my son again. I would love to get to a place in our relationship where I don't have to stop and wonder if what he's telling me is the truth or just another fabrication. But right now, that place seems so far away. And that really hurts.