It is truly painful when active addiction takes a family member away from our families’ celebrations. All parents yearn to have all their children by their side.
The choice to have a family member remain away from the holiday table is gut wrenching. A mother’s tears will stream as the Macys Thanksgiving Parade pours into the living room from the television. Forced smiles will be pasted on the faces of broken hearted parents as the younger sisters and brothers squabble over who gets to use the iPad next. We miss our old family structure.
Sometimes it becomes far too much and parents “cave in”. They want to practice the “tough love” concept discussed at their parent meetings, yet maybe this year is not the year. With intense guilt they invite the addict child home for “a few hours”. I am not making a judgement here and no advice. I simply know this “invite” happens.
Should you decide to have that addict family member home, please live with your decision. You also must set realistic expectations in both your heart and your head.
Your “guest” child is very sick. Keep that fact close during his/her visit. Your child is no longer the cuddly little kid that rolled down the steps in their footsie pajamas just a few short years ago. Those days are gone and it takes hard work to accept that fact. Acceptance is one of many holiday “side dishes”.
Your child has become both physically and mentally altered by their addiction. Your parental perspective must remain clear. Keep in mind that ultimately your addict child must answer to the call eventually. Plain and simple, the call is their burden.
I could never have my son sit at the holiday table when he was active.He was far too destructive and I owed other family members a peaceful day.
I do remember a phone call one Thanksgiving. He was complaining about the food wherever he was rehabbing. I reminded him that lousy Thanksgiving dinners are one of many small consequences he will face. He listened quietly. I am still thankful today that I stood by my decisions.
I pray for those of you who are struggling with that decision today. If you choose to have them sit with you, I can only pray and hope it works out well. If you opt to have them suffer the consequences of an exiled holiday, I wish you continued strength as I know this decision cuts your heart like a razor.
Again…set your mental expectations. Keep them realistic. Along with the mashed potatoes and carrots you may wish to serve up a side order of “boundaries” for your Thanksgiving table.
I wish you peace this Thanksgiving.
peace and strength
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*** This 2013 my son will again join us at the Thanksgiving table…he is clean and sober. I am thankful.