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Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Adult Children (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2022 5:00 am

Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Adult Children (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 1, 2022 5:00 am

Allison Bottke shares a dramatic story of raising an adult son who has struggled with drug addiction, multiple arrests, and imprisonment. She is quick to admit to her mistakes of enabling her son over the years, and shares stories of other parents who have unwittingly crossed the line of “helping” to enabling their adult children. (Part 2 of 2)

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Find a way forward for that's I got a call because night my name was on his lease I paid for the house release.

I put my name on it and it was a night mare. When I walked into the house after a SWAT team you see on TV but you can't comprehend what it's like in reality and the house itself was a trashcan. There were just bottles everywhere. It was New Year's Eve party. There was I walked in. This is no human being should live like this is Allison sharing just part of her dramatic story she told it last time on Focus on the Family describing some of the heartbreaking situations she experienced with her adult son Christopher and introspection she had to really go through to figure out what's going on. Allison is back with us today to assure more and your hostess focus president and Dr. Jim Daly I'm John Fuller, John. My heart aches for parents like Allison who have struggled to raise and encourage and support their children. Yet nothing seems to help these young adults succeed by whatever measure were measuring that by maybe you know what that's like. Maybe you're in that period of your life or your adult children are struggling and you're not quite sure what to do. You may have a prodigal whose walked away from their faith.

That's probably the scariest position. A Christian parent can be in, or your adult child is living with her boyfriend or girlfriend. Another common phenomenon.

Whether you're in the church are outside the church. Maybe they're still living in your home and seem to have no motivation no plans for moving out and you're worried about that future.

We know a lot of families are in that boat maybe not in the same area of the sea where the storm is really cooking but you're heading toward that difficult area and as we share last time we want to help you change the dynamic of what's going on in your family. That means identifying the problems of recognizing the mistakes you've made in the past as a parent and then developing a plan of action to create healthy boundaries and ultimately entrust your adult child into God's hands. We had a great conversation with Allison about key last time and I'm looking forward to more of this today and more of the solution that she's written in a great book called setting boundaries with your adult children, six steps to hope and healing for struggling parents to cover the six steps today. Yet if you'd like to get a copy of Allison's book. We do have that.

Of course here at Focus on the Family are numbers 800 the letter a and word family or click the link in the episode notes Allison, welcome back to Focus on the Family you for having me.

We shared part of your story last time about how your son Christopher struggled with drugs in the wrong friends and all those things that we as parents are concerned about a actually even led to illegal activity and various other problems throughout his young adult life. You admitted or talked about what you did to enable him over the years as a loving mom trying to help them. The best way that you knew how I think all of us as parents have that part of her heart. There were saying yes we want to help. Some may have a better guard about whether that help will be the best thing for the child or if withholding some of that help could be the better wisdom and we mention that last time you finally came up with a strategy for parents who are in that same trap that you found yourself and is based on a word that you've come up with called sanity.

I love that we all need sanity as parents and working hit that today let's start with that quick overview. What does sanity the acronym.

What is it stand for sanity is what we get when we learn how to set healthy boundaries and live a life pleases God. So for me I was going to the insanity the gerbil wheel of insanity that really motivated me think I want off this turbulent insanity I need to do at that moment and think of sanity steps. It was, I have to stop at the stop what I'm doing right now. Stop behaving the way I am I to stop my actions as I wrote down. So the whole process. Jim not to go through findings. The sanity steps.

I knew I had to stop repeating the same behavior and expecting different results.

And I knew I needed help I need to be around people that would hold me accountable that I could learn from and grow from. I started therapy. I started reading them boundaries. I didn't realize the issues at hand. So I need to be around so that he was assembled supportive people and I will assemble people excuses in the but I had to stop making excuses not just for my son's behavior, but my own right. So that was okay and if excuses implement some kind of a plan I with them. A proactive woman.

I was a businesswoman I can as I need a plan and a plan of action is something tangible that I can look at write down and actually do that. It's tangible. So that was implement a plan T with trust. The spirit I had to trust that God was in control and ice so often went over him.

Yes, this is really that's how I met connection related when the SWAT team rate of my son's house and I was standing there dumping out liquor.

I heard the voice of God sake stop stop stop. You can't do this. I can't stop as I trust that voice and live parents and I found this to be very true. A lot of parents will say I knew I was doing something wrong. I knew it wasn't by a nutritionist.I knew when he asked for more money. I shouldn't have gotten but I just didn't listen to that so were praying for wisdom and discernment. We need to listen when it comes to the chest and why yield everything to God. That doesn't mean get up there. It doesn't get off on just tossing in the towel.

That means trusting that he knows best. And if I'm leaning on him and praying for wisdom and discernment.

I need to follow that that that growth that I'm going through and experience the pain I needed to experience the pain. So my son could eventually experience it, and that's a hard thing to trust that God could take her hand right and that would be the most difficult I think for any of us as parents.

But let's now go back and let's dissect all this because I think this is the helpful part of the today program and I want to make sure we do put thoughts and in good ideas forward for the parents are struggling, starting back with us for stop negative behavior. Give examples of what parents are doing wrong to enable their adult children stop the flow of money is a big one for things that have to stop. It's very individual for all of us were not all making these likes mistakes but typically the big ones are stop the flow of money stop making excuses stop coming to the rescue. Stop being a landing pad for your child. Stop your own issues.

Stop your own swooping and stop your own your own fear. I think if you can stop here.

If you get stuck in a stop being a prisoner to fear and guilt that that's his last stop. I pages a stops. Jim got another good was a woman that was working three jobs and what was she doing with all that energy and the money she was making from three jobs.

Why was she working three jobs covering that car payment for her daughter who is very fancy SUV. She was buying clothes and food for the three grandkids.

She paid for her daughters auto insurance she paid for it but have everything and had to take these jobs at two of four and I met her at a yard sale and I just could've looked start the top and become very outspoken about this issue about that the boundaries and what have asked I asked her why you doing this to your detriment because she was tired she was exhausted she had been her I saw her car broken down vehicle and her daughters driving a fancy navigator SUV is in vain for yes at the last is, why don't you think you deserve a decent vehicle when you think of your time.

You deserve not to work so hard yeah let's move to the a insanity. The a stands for assemble support group. Why is this critical for parents who are struggling and what do these support groups look like the accountability is a key factor here. If that's in your church family. A lot of parents don't want to bring up the challenges that were having with our kids, especially if drugs are involved or on incarceration or the kids are in a jail. If there is that of relationships.

I talked to parents who have daughters who have 345 kids all by different fathers know so it's a nightmare.

What a lot of parents are living with lightning often. Alice and I talked about that is chaos. You know, we have a great series by Ray Vander want talk about that.

The room I know, raise a good friend and that's one of the teaching points that he'll provide the Jesus came to bring God shalom his peace to a world of chaos and chaos entered the world when sin entered the world and that's what you're describing. Just this everyday chaos that begins to occur. Insanity of this group. I can imagine that some of these parents we feel like were learning this almost just experientially and that's you get into a corner of a room you say hey, are you experiencing this with your adult child yeah by the way, I am no and then you start to figure out wow that's not working very well but it is almost like a code of some sort between parents. We don't know for doing it well, or not doing well, especially those of such of a pressure in Christian families that that we feel were supposed to be behaving in a certain way in our kids aren't supposed to be doing this and I was a young believer when I was in church, realizing I looked around and nobody around me could possibly have a son like mine. He's in and out of jail and the situation they just but once I started talking about it. I was stunned at how many people at that same place.

So when you can be around other people and realize you're not alone else and that let's go to in for sanity.

It stands for nip excuses in the but what are some of those typical excuses, dysfunctional adult child will try to use on their parents they become satellite and become master manipulators. In many instances that look like if I said I know what it's like I feel like I couldn't get to work because my car broke down because I didn't have the money to fix my car so I didn't go to work so I need only this money so I can get this and as one excuse after another.

You can take the bus, walk, do something you can get there if you need to go down so that that nip excuses. A big one for me.

For mice with my son when he was in his 20s and early 30s was the cell phone. I paid for his cell phone and it got to be very expensive and he of course told me he would pay me back and that that happen multiple times.

I didn't get paid back in there. I am an alien in major debt paying for this, but like the excuse was if he doesn't have a phone he can't call me or I will be able to know if he safer not like he ever really called me a lot on this phone I paid for it, but I hear from him for some excuses are the rampant is what what in that regard with nipping it in the bud. You are in the courthouse and you had a realization about how oblivious Christopher was to your pain yes what happened in the absolute caught your attention. I very emotional person and I was sitting there watching him go through this. Watching the talked about with the shackles and the orange suit and you and I started to cry and I'm typing on a not like weeping crazily but I'm deathly sad and I found out later that he called a friend of mine and said I was just trying to get sympathy that I was just trying to make it all about me. I don't understand this is all about me. I'm caring for you. I'm sad what's happening. But at that point, stop bailing them out. He knew he was that wasn't bailing them out. Maybe his exact so that was about. It's all it all gets so convoluted when we been on this gerbil wheel of insanity for so long to extricate ourselves from this it really step back and look at what the next steps are is critical because were all caught up in the chaos and the insanity were caught up in fixing the Klonopin in the fear of the shame and guilt, and until that's where exit comes into looking stop and step back would like to build nip any excuses were not been able to get support when I can really do any of these things until he can separate ourselves from our children's action and it and see how much of us is involved in this will, but what choices we've made that have contributed to this. I often think if I hadn't starved it, bailing him out so soon. Things might have changed from his history bailing out and made excuses.

Would you Stay in jail on could bail you out. You My son Kathy in jail. Well he should very well have been there because he did something incredibly wrong and there's consequences your edits. You never had the experience consequences for a long time because I bail them out all the time. So when you get to that realization is apparent. It's hard because it that we want to beat ourselves up and that's not serve any purpose either so that's part of that nip excuses.

Note this is happening to my son because I was a bad parent. That's not it at all what I dictate poor choices so that he will do gods forgive me and that'll allow Tommy to move on but but what does moving on, look like Allison that we covered the SCA in the end of sanity malice. Talk about the what you have is implement rules and boundaries. This probably is the most difficult.

We can recognize were we fall short is apparent our own, no misgivings, etc. when we talk about implementing rules and boundaries that comes out of Galatians 6 I believe. Caring each other's burdens, how do we do that how do we begin to set those rules and boundaries and really change our own behavior.

That's exactly what is changing our own behavior. Being able to have action plan is critical if you don't have anything to aim for, was that single. You'll hear nothing.

So we've got to help plan.

What's the outcome you want is apparent is it for your child to launch maybe not.

Or is it to perhaps help them through addiction or is it to know if your supposed to take care of your grandkids has a lot of parents now are taking care grandkids because her kids can write because they're either in jail or prison or their addicts and they are capable. So it's it's really what is it that you is apparent.

What do you feel that you need to do what what what was the next step what her expectations and and write that down. I'm a big believer and a writer of John Bigley for writing things down so we can see it is we don't know what remembering the can that in that throes of emotion that were so often in and for communicating with adult children that are dysfunctional or trouble. They may not remember. So I'm a bit don't proponent of writing things down. The plan and presenting it to our adult child if they play a part in this such as maybe moving out what it is that that looks like do you and if you're going to no longer give money for no longer than a supports them, or they have to do this in order to get that you gotta write that down so that plan I to write down everything. What I how I saw my life. What steps forth. This is not because of a troubled adult child. We had two girls living with us for about a year each for some college time and I finally had this kind of set a boundary for my wife and myself and say you know what we been parenting a long time and we loved having you, but it's time for you to move on. We need some room for ourselves that the conversation went down pretty well what you would you do if the child doesn't get it loaned some of them don't get an NIII have chapters on dealing with anger, especially it depends on what situation your child is dealing with. There are mental and emotional illnesses with a lot of kids in her bipolar that are depressed that are better addicts. If so, what are they capable of doing. Gotta be aware of this effect and if there showing psychopathic behavior.

There's some some kids, it does they don't have empathy. They don't have simply that they don't and and they can get extremely angry so you got. Be prepared. If you are going to set this boundary what might happen, and brainstormed the heck out of that in your support group that he might get physical limited and and and be prepared to do it if you got a call and get a restraining warrant. That's what you have to do, so that it's hard but if you start looking at writing this down and on the other side of that coin is not all negative side, a lot of our kids don't know what they're capable of accomplishing because we been accomplishing it for them. So when we step back there set very strong possibility that these kids are going to get a clue and get a grip and be able to move forward with just been hanging on for too long. Yes, it was good to have that hope that if you can weather this storm they they may come out on the other side of incredibly independent and and feeling self-respect feeling that they've done something good that when you've been taking care of all these years and now now it's up to you to do it and you make the small successes at spring amazing for young people and you can see the changes that they that that happens in their life. Exactly Allison, we gotta get through the other two letters of the T and the YT is trust your instincts. Why yield everything to God the trusting of your instincts.

Oftentimes I can be born out of fear and your instincts may be right, but you have to. I think be checking with other parents a that is known to have the network to be able to do that but but normally instincts are correct. I don't want to understate that but I just think sometimes fear can overplay that instinct that you have but you should always be listening to your heart when you put it that way yes and and being able to trust that end and deal with the fact you may go through some pain and fear that for you a really good one that was up a woman who contacted me loose happens a lot.

Parents are saying that their kids have fancy cars and they got money in and they've got all these are taking trips they're doing and yet they're still living at home. The sun was living at home, drove a fancy car had a fancy motorcycle and a lot of money and wasn't really working. She didn't see the amount and see him really want to work much giving excuses to herself how we know how to see Ozzie affording this turns out he was dealing drugs had had dug a hole drilled a hole in the floor of his bedroom and had a floor safe put in the house underneath carpet. He was arrested. The police came in. Mom and dad tell mom and dad's house and and search the whole house found this floor safe, filled with money and drugs cocaine Lotta cocaine mom is really clueless to this, but the police aren't buying that she's clueless to this, she ended up getting arrested and ended up being an accomplice is and how it should clear her name. Cost a lot of money for attorney fees to clear her name, place, she wasn't an accomplice. But it's her house she's paying the bills. He's living there right with her. How on earth could she not know he's doing something illegal. What is driving this and not working. So she ignored these feelings, and she said I just was wrong. I just didn't know how to support group at that time she didn't know how to what she was in a do and it was that it was tough and you see these.

I see these stories unfolding often and it's frightening the next entrusting your instincts is a good rule of phone and formulating how to approach that with your dull child etc. really important yielding everything to God. That sounds so easy. But probably the most difficult essay giving in and out is into isn't getting up so sometimes we have to realize that were going go through a mess for a while I got this plan. Now it's gonna be tough but God you can help me. You can help me get through this and the and yield that and in any letting go of expectations is really a critical thing and do expect it. God is in control of their walk through this one day at a time and trusted that that the plan is gonna work out but didn't realize this can be painful said that's the bottom line is at an end. That being able to the papal as having your support group that you can lean on you know that and and it all ties together stopping beating ourselves up. Talk to counselor if you need to.

It's it's so intricate it in this surrender, which is what it is it's surrendering okay and made some mistakes but I'm it's a new day.

It's a new dawn I'm moving forward and will see what happens. Allison, that old clich of letting go go do his thing with your dull child sound so easy. It sounds so good but it's not know it's not. It's not easy is not is my son eyes is a believer and strong believer and his been free of heroin for 20 some years now on, but has a real challenge with pain meds after being so many accidents only motorcycle accidents.

It is now reaping the consequences of a very rough lifestyle and for me I don't not bailing them out. He's he's in prison and you know he sees serving time. So it's up that surrender is trusting that God's good to bring her around has been of very positive thing for Chris. He's exactly where I think God wants them to be. He's learned the Bible back and forth using a prison Fellowship study so he's looking at life and very different way now but it's taken a long time. It's and to respect that he knows now I don't eat that he will ask for money to bail them out. You know that's not it happened. Sorry.

So we've we've now developed different connection that dependency over parents to develop a true connection with their kids is important not not the symbiotic one when you're bailing them out all the time, but a true yeah connection. You described the need to apologize. As you develop that action plan with your dull child. The parent should apologize to the child what what is that apology so it it said I'm sorry that I didn't trust you enough to live your life.

I'm sorry I didn't give you the independence that you needed to grow on your own. I'm sorry that I Bailing you out. I have said I'm sorry that I didn't believe in you enough this is it. And I'm sad I didn't take care of myself and that makes me sad now because so many parents are going through this and taking care of themselves. God has a plan for us as well as our kids.

So if we don't know what that plan is. And we are trusting in him we are depending on him and really walking that faith walk. Things are in charge and to continue in a journal, other never going to get successfully apology.

It's it's really say I'm sorry and I'm moving on now.

I'm sorry to go through some pain now, but this is how it is. Allison, you have hit the nail on the head. And I think your book has really helped us to think through those things that we need to know parents with adult children, were we blown what we need to do. How do we help them by helping ourselves see things a little differently. I love the way you laid this out.

I mean, I'm even thinking for Gina and I know things we did well and things that we may have done so well in the consequences to our boys in unit one of the great things to do is simply to talk with our adult children hopefully have a kind of relationship were that I guess that awareness that hopefully this program is brought you will allow you to have that discussion and certainly get a copy of the book so you can become more familiar with what Allison is talking about your radio program like this just touches on the surface, we can go into all the detail in the book does do that so I would really encourage you to hold of us get a copy of the book.

If you give a gift of focus of any amount you can support us monthly that be great to be a part of the ministry here. Focus on the Family will send you a copy of the book to say thank you can afford it. Like I said last time will get it to you because these types of resources are so critical and so important to you and your parenting journey that you need a and I believe in it. I know focus, but what he was in it and just get a hold of us will get it to you and trust others will cover the expense of that but again Allison, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you for your tears of pain, and I think tears of joy that God is moving this along.

Hope is evident in your trust in him is evident. You are absolutely right. So keep on being a good mom and thinking you will get in touch with us if you like to talk to one of our counselors need or would like to book for somebody else setting boundaries with your adult children can donate generously for numbers 800 K in the word family or the link is in the office of behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once again help you and your family thrive

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