Recently I read an article about a woman who had two addicted sons. She and her husband had done all they could for them. Nothing changed. She realized after attending Al-Anon she was not helping them. She realized she needed to let them develop their “struggle muscle.” That was an interesting phrase I had not heard of before.
Often as a mother I am asked to rescue my adult children. Every parent knows what I’m talking about. The requests are regular and I have to think about each one.
- A rent check comes up short
- An unexpected car repair
- Run to the grocery store, get food, take care of a pet, run an errand.
I am the only safety net for my children. There are no grandparents to help them out if I say no. I am aware of this and say “No” with a great deal of thought. So every request requires extra time from me as I sort out what the right thing to do it.
After reading the article, I suddenly felt maybe I should stop helping my adult children altogether. That is the Al-Anon way, and for sure I am pampering my children. Was I allowing my adult children to exercise their “struggle muscle?” By my small acts of generosity was I keeping them weak? That last thing I wanted was to over react to someone else’s story.
I had to do some soul searching. There is no simple answer to this question. I realize many people like simple, quick answers because it is easier than thinking and processing a problem. I know enough Al-Anon to realize I am wise when I don’t react to anything I hear. So I paused.
Should I say, “No” every time? That would be easy, but that wouldn’t work for me.
My daughter is in college and sometimes fails to meet one of her utility bills. I let her ask me, then I take a look at her checking account to see where the money is going, and then I respond. That takes more time and effort, but I feel better when I look at each request with fresh eyes.
My son, Marvin, is trying to rebuild his life after a DUI and has no car presently. He is sometimes left with no ride to work. He will text me and ask for a ride home from work. I have given thought to this and have peace about saying no if I am busy or if it would inconvenience me. He then either rides his bike or walks the seven miles to work. If I am able I have no problem getting him from work. It is what I am comfortable doing. Perhaps someday I will stop giving him rides at all. I will continue to listen to others in Al-Anon and do what is best for me.
It would be easy to come up with a simple answer to a complex situation, but it won’t always fit. It is my experience that hearing from others in Al-Anon helps me to look at my life in a new light, but at the end of the day it is between my Higher Power and me what the final decision is. There is no one size that fits all. When I hear another’s story I don’t have to do anything differently, but I am invited to consider another way of doing things.
That is what I love about Al-Anon…there are no musts.
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