Question: Dear Luise: My 39 year old son is an alcoholic. He has been to re-hab 3 times, the last time (5/11) he left after 2 weeks. He stays sober for a month or two then backing to drinking. He had a DUI in July. Last fall my husband and I said he could live with us while he looked for a job but he could not drink. He lost 3 jobs in the last 6 months because of alcohol. We asked him to leave in Jan., He did, don’t know where he went. He called today and said he wants help (again) and wants to go back to re-hab. My husband is fed up, I am too but am afraid he will die from drinking and may even consider suicide. What should we do? My idea is to send him again to re-hab, then he must live in a sober living home for 90 days while looking for work. Help. D.
Answer: Dear D.: It can be extremely hard to get that the choices our adult children make and what they do or do not learn from the consequences of those choices is their path. We keep parenting and worrying and enabling and thinking if we don’t we will be responsible for what happens next. We create and then sell out to guilt.
The truth is our job is done. We did our best and the rest is up to them. Whether they succeed or fail job-wise, whether they deal with addiction or even whether they want to stay on the planet or not is about them, not us. We gave them life, we didn’t guarantee it. What they do with it is up to them. Your job was done 20 years ago.
Some of us keep on parenting. It’s a choice we have to make that no one can make for us. You and your husband were whole and complete before you had a family. You can be again. Al-anon will help if you will let them. The truth is that the more you help your adult son, the worse he feels about himself. My take: You deserve so much better and it’s time to give it to yourselves. Blessings, Luise