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'Doing' Less to Achieve More

‘Doing’ Less to Achieve More For Your Child In Recovery

Est. reading time: 2 mins
Posted Under: For Families

Clinically Reviewed by: Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW


Originally published June 2016. 

From the time our children enter the world we are trained to respond to their needs. We carefully attempt to decode what it is they are telling us so we can provide for them, soothe their discomfort and actively help them. Our role is to also teach them the essential skills and values that will ultimately be the foundation with which they later launch into the world.

When ‘fixing’ no longer mends the problem.

As parents, seeing our child suffer in any way is painful and it follows logically that our instinct would be to do whatever we can to help them to feel better: to take action. We are fixers by nature. This is especially poignant when we have a child that struggles with a mental illness or a substance abuse problem; all we want is to take away their pain and find a solution, quickly and definitively. The challenge is that as our children grow and reach different developmental milestones and stages of life, what they need from us as parents changes, and fixing it may not only be inappropriate but may actually be pushing their behavior to worsen rather than improve. With the very best of intentions, we can actually be aggravating the root problem, not mend it.

Stepping back to allow room for health.

What we now know is that when our children reach young adulthood our role is very much about offering supportive listening and empathic understanding rather than guidance and direction. It is no longer our job to fix it. By finding the strength to not ‘act’ as we might want to, but instead listen and support from a different perspective, we offer our children the freedom and motivation to get better.

Four tips to meaningfully help your child:

  1. Find the right team of professionals.
  2. Offer your undivided attention (listen) and unconditional love (empathic understanding) and support. Do not give advice or try and solve the problem for them.
  3. Remember your behavior, not your words, are the more powerful teacher and you’ve already done the work!
  4. Get to know your professional team and become a part of the process. This will expedite the healing!

Interested in learning more about family support at The Dorm? Contact Us.

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