All Her Consequences Were on the Inside

Addiction runs in my family, but not close enough for me to worry about it for our daughters. I’d heard stories about my great-grandfather and my great uncle, but I never knew either of them. I knew a little bit about the idea that addiction can run in families, but honestly, I just didn’t think about it!

I was so grateful that both our girls didn’t drink in high school, and I felt very confident that I could recognize drug use the moment it happened because I had been down my own rocky road in young adulthood. And then when they went to college, it seemed logical that they would party. I mean, isn’t that what college freshmen do?! I certainly did, and so did my husband!

So it just seemed like things were normal. Our kids were doing what we did. We all did what other kids did. Our kids did well in school, just like we did, and there were no big events. No arrests. No DUIs. No wrecks. Just college life. Little did we know…..

The chaos was the first clue. Our kid who had always been a little flighty but super-responsible just seemed to have one mini-crisis after another. Sometimes it was with a guy and other times with a suitemate. A professor didn’t demonstrate responsive communication, so her unanswered questions led to incomplete grades and eventually the threat of a failing grade. And there was the realization that she was hanging out with people who were doing much scarier things than we had ever done, so we gave firm admonitions about staying out of those places and avoiding those people. We even gave the “just remember, we won’t bail you out if you arrested, even if you are just an innocent bystander” speech.

When we could witness – up close and personal — the actions of our daughter when she lived in our home, it was just easier to know what was going on with her. But once she lived elsewhere, even though we were staying in touch and saw her fairly regularly, we just couldn’t see that she was beginning to fall apart and morph into someone who was hurting on the inside. She never did get arrested. She never did fail a class or have any external consequences. All her consequences were on the inside. The more she used, the more she wanted to use. The more she wanted to use, the worse she felt about herself. The worse she felt about herself, the more she wanted to use. But only she knew that.

Today’s Reminder:  When I find myself falling into that trap of believing that I should have been able to protect or prevent my child from developing addiction, I will remind myself that I am simply not that powerful. I cannot read minds or hearts or bellies, and sometimes that is where the disease is most alive, especially in the early stages. As a parent of an adult child, I will remind myself that my job now is to love compassionately but firmly, advocating for recovery for our daughter and ourselves.


You can listen to an audio of this devotional at our podcast A Dose of Hope.


You do not have to walk this path alone. Parenting Through Addiction offers courses to teach you about what YOU can do to help your child as they begin their own path to recovery. We also offer various membership options so you can connect with other parents who are on their own journey to find serenity in the face of their child’s addiction. To learn more click here!