Most of our February newsletter will be devoted to TEENS. My wife Judy, remembers the words of a wise friend who visited us shortly after the birth of our first child, Jake. He said "Your children will be the source of your biggest sorrows and your greatest joy!" Little did we know at the time, how true those words would turn out to be.
This month I've included my response to a recent happening that made the news ("Meanest Mom on the Planet") and also an excerpt on teens from my book "Why Don't They Just Quit?"
I'm also excited announce that we now have a link to our ARCHIVE, where you can access past newsletters and press releases.
Lastly, I want to tell you about an offer that I am extremely excited to make available to our past customers and newsletter subscribers. One of the most valuable shows in our "Recovery TV" series from last year is titled "Teens Under the Influence." My guest on this show, Don Williams, an expert who has worked with teens for over twenty years shares valuable information and insights that every parent needs to hear. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find out how to get your FREE DVD. You can also read more details about this show in the right-hand column.
Again, I have heard from some of you with your own personal comments, concerns and questions. Please know that I welcome and value connecting with each and every one of you.
It's my vision that you will experience a newfound plan of action and hope for a brighter future for yourself and those you care about.
takes tough love approach.
Jane Hambleton, with son Steven,
on "Good Morning America," where she
talked about selling his
finding booze under the front seat.
Sooner or later
everyone sits down
to a banquet
-Robert Louis Stevenson
Many of you may have seen the story in the news recently. Apparently a mother bought her nineteen-year-old son a car. The story says that she asked only two things of her son as part of the deal. The son was told to not drink and drive, and to keep the car locked when he was not using it.
Three weeks later, Mom finds a bottle of liquor under the front seat and promptly puts an ad in the paper to sell the car.
"OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."
I would assume that the son was shocked by what she did. I have raised three children myself and went through that challenging phase with each one. Adolescence!
Did Mom do the right thing? Did she overreact? Should she have been snooping around in "his" car?
What I would like to say to this Mom is BRAVO! How many of us, myself included, have made agreements with our teens and then not followed through? First of all, Mom did not overreact. She simply acted on her son's disregard for her previously stated and agreed-upon rules.
If any parent has reason to suspect that their teen is drinking or using drugs, they should "snoop". This goes for "their" bedroom, bathroom, or backpack as well.
Let's keep things in perspective here--the car was "their" car, not "his" car. Mom probably helped with the insurance as well as the purchase. Parents or guardians are liable for consequences of their adolescent's behavior and often for their children's bad choices as they go through this difficult stage of life.
Regarding this particular story, none of us know the whole story, or "the rest of the story" or how this will all play out in the long run. But one thing is certain. People's choices have consequences. Sooner or later we all learn from the choices and decisions we make.
I hope that her son not only benefited from this incident, but that he is in the process of regaining his mother's trust. Fortunately, this mom didn't cave into his pleading to not sell the car.
I'm glad that she did not rob him of this very valuable learning experience.
Q: I'm in a realationship right now with an alcoholic. I love him dearly. I've never even had a drink before, so this is very foreign to me. My heart aches when he would rather spend his last dollar on beer than pay a bill or buy his children Christmas presents. I'm at a loss and don't know what to do. Please help.
question reminds me of a comment by Michael Connelly that is on our
companion DVD. Michael compares alcohol and drug dependency to
relationships we have with people in our lives (but for the addict/alcoholic the
drug has become the "most important relationship in their world").
didn't start out this way. The user never intended for it to happen.
The process was so gradual, they never saw it coming and now their relationship with alcohol is like a
bad marriage. The drug and the person using it are so deeply committed
to each other that they can't imagine life without using, in spite of
all the problems and consequences that go with the disease.
So what now? What can I do to stop this insanity?
When it gets to this point it is often consequences and more pain that
makes the difference. Pain is a wonderful teacher. We learn things
through pain that we often cannot learn in any other way. Don't get in
the way of consequences. Let them pile up.
At some point you should
simply say that he must quit or you will leave the relationship. Then stick with your decision.
Remember that addiction is progressive and even fatal. We've heard it
said that "you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink",
which is true, but the consequences can be the salt that makes him
Life is way too short to live very long with an active
alcoholic. Keep in mind that your friend is either in denial or
unaware of his problem. Whichever it may be is unimportant at this
point. He is lucky to have someone like yourself to force the issue.
People can and do change all the time. More often than not, it's because
someone who cares did the right thing. Force the issue!
Q: My husband and I can't seem to
agree on what we should do about our son's drinking and drug problem.
Sam, (not his real name), has been experimenting with alcohol, marijuana
and probably other things as well for the past four years. He's
eighteen and is in trouble at school and with the police on a regular
M.S., Brooklyn, NY
A: If it's any comfort, let me first
say that your story is VERY COMMON. Millions of parents all across
America are asking the same thing.
My wife and I went through a similar
experience. From the sound of your son's activity he hasn't yet
committed the "crime of the century" and probably won't. Most teens will
get through this and do fine in life. But in the here and now, I'm
sure this is very stressful. I'm a firm believer in the tough
Don't rescue him. Many young men learn things the hard
way. Read about substance use and abuse, talk with counselors, and also
read about this stage of life called adolescence. This is a tough time
for most young people to negotiate. I don't know about you but for
me, one trip through adolescence was enough.
Concerning agreement on
how you and your husband handle this--it is important to be in
agreement. My wife and I sought out some wise counsel because we too
were struggling and didn't always agree. Keep in mind now that I am a "counselor guy" myself.
Often, men are more in favor of the tough love
approach and mothers tend to lean the other way. I think this is due to something in our
DNA so there's not much hope for this to change anytime soon. I "moved"
some and so did she. We found solutions that worked for us. I'll never
forget what I heard at the end of one those long boring seminars on
"How to Raise Your Teen." Right at the close, the instructor said
"Sometimes it's simply a matter of getting them from here to there."
The serenity prayer is good to remember at times like this.
Q: I think my spouse may be addicted
to his pain medication. He had knee replacement surgery several months
ago and has gone back to work, but says he still needs to take pain
pills. I think he is actually taking more now than he did right after
the surgery. I'm not sure about all of this, and I don't know what or how to say
something. His dad is a recovering alcoholic. I'm worried.
F.A., Miami, FL
A: This is a tough question. The fact
that you're concerned and also the mention of his Dad being in
recovery does look like a red flag. Pain medications that are prescribed today are often strong narcotics. These drugs are real life-savers in many cases (when used for short periods of time). At the same time, they do have
the potential for abuse. In fact, prescription pain-killers like Vicodin
and Oxyconton have become the most abused of all prescription
These drugs do two things: they relieve pain AND create a
euphoric high, of sorts. Some people find they like the way the
medication makes them "feel" and that is why these drugs have such a
high potential for abuse. At some point the body will begin to develop
a tolerance--and more of the medication will be needed to get the same
effect. At this point it can become difficult to tell if the person is
in genuine pain or just the pain of withdrawal. All they may know is, if
I take some more pills I feel better. This is not a good thing.
talk to your husband about your concerns. If the situation persists
seek some professional advice--sooner rather than later.
If you have a question for Joe, please email it to:
(click the link at the bottom of this page)
We will respond to your question, and (with your permission)
we may post it in our next newsletter.
in the Twenty-first Century
What did I do wrong?
Addicts and alcoholics often zero in on Mom or Dad as the scapegoat--whether it's a teenager or an adult that has the problem. Rarely does a day go by that I don't get a call from a desperate parent (usually a mom), and find that the child has shifted some or all of their problems onto the parent. The insinuation from the addict to the parent is, "your parenting skills are the problem." After a while, the parent may start to feel guilty and believe they are at least partly to blame.
Ultimately the addict/alcoholic has found one more excuse to continue using--it's my parent's fault. The parent starts to think about what they could have done differently, and guilt builds. Often parents don't seek the help and support they need because of the shame they take upon themselves for not preventing this. So my advice is this: Don't start playing the could've, would've, and should've game. It can go on forever.
Taking the blame for another person's Parenting skills are important, and raising children is a big responsibility. Just the same, our kids make choices. Some of their choices are good, and some not so good. Taking the blame for another person's poor decisions solves nothing. In fact when parents do this, they rob their child of the valuable lessons the consequences are meant to bring.
poor decisions solves nothing.
Mary, a friend of our family, has a son who, when he was seventeen, left home a few days before Christmas. The son had been abusing drugs and alcohol and when given the choice of living at home or using drugs, he chose to leave. Mary was doing her best to hold herself and the rest of her family together during the holidays. While attending a Christmas party, she confided in her neighbor, and the neighbor quickly remarked, "That kind of thing would never happen to us; we have much higher standards!"
A remark like this, which attempts to place the blame on the parents, can be incredibly damaging not only to the parents but to the child as well, shifting the blame in the wrong direction. We should love our children, empathize with them, never give up hope, and do whatever we can to help them see the light. In spite of our best efforts, raising children in the twenty-first century in some ways can be like a roll of the dice. We've all seen cases where kids who came from horrible and abusive backgrounds have gone on to succeed in life. Unfortunately, the opposite also happens. There are no guarantees in child-rearing. Most of us do the best we can with information we have. Hindsight is 20/20, and often we learn as we go. If we, as parents, could go back in time and do some things differently, would we? Sure. Would that have eliminated all the problems our teens are having now? We'll never know, but I doubt it.
This article is excerpted from the book
"Why Don't They Just Quit?" Pgs. 75-76
Recent Feedback From Our Readers
Dear Friends, Changing Lives has had the pleasure of hearing from some of you.
With their permission, we are honored to share some of their feedback and
experiences, with the hope that you too, will know that you are not
alone, and to "never give up hope."
" . . . a very good read. Joe has effectively drawn together much of
the wisdom from AA and Alanon's 70 plus years of experience, the
hand's-on lessons from professional counseling and the more recent
medical advances in the treatment of addictions. His counsel and
advice, while based on complicated problems with no easy answers is
very practical and down to earth. As an addctions counselor
with over 35 years experience I am particularly impressed that Joe
avoided the common temptations of giving pat answers or proposing
solutions that are over the heads of most people and require
professional interventions. Joe clearly has a good grasp of the
disease of chemical addiction and has presented a very objective
overview of the best treatments and interventions for that disease." Dave Ketter, LCPClinical SupervisorValley Hope Association
"I found that your book Why Don't They Just Quit was an excellent read in terms of gaining a very keen understanding of alcohol and drug addiction. Having very little knowledge of the why, what, how, when of addiction, I found your book to be extremely forthcoming with personal and educational insight into a very complex, but solvable, problem. ". . . I read your book twice. I thought I knew quite a bit about alcohol addiction but in reality, I probably only knew 20% before reading your book.I dated a lady for 6 months and had to end it with her on September 17th after many conversations (about her excessive drinking) ended up falling on deaf ears. This was extremely excruciating as we had discussed living together and planning to have a life together. She decided that "her best friend" was more important than me and our relationship. This hurt quite a bit, but she made a decision that getting "high" was a very "high" priority for her.I commend you for your book and your tenacity in being in recovery for such a prolonged period. Keep it up!"CH
Although alcohol and drug addiction is weighted heavily with emotional issues, it is, without a doubt, a very serious disease-something that everyone involved needs to address immediately. After reading your book, I felt a sense of relief knowing that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, but it will take time and practice. Thanks for sharing your personal story, it's was inspirational."
Thank you for partnering with us in the battle to free those we care about from the bonds of addiction. I believe that your family and relationships can be fully restored and that you can play an important role in changing someone's life immediately.
Remember to never give up hope!
Changing Lives Foundation
Changing Lives Foundation is committed to bringing you practical
information that can be used right now, to help someone you care about
break the bonds of addiction.
(with any purchase)
for our past customers &
"Teens Under the
The teen years are perhaps the most challenging of all, and what happens during this time will often determine the quality of life for the teen as well as the entire family. Don Williams, the guest for this show, has worked for over twenty years exclusively with adolescents. Don's insight and advice for parents can not only shorten this difficult time but also restore those broken relationships and bring harmony to back to the family. Covered in this show are tips on blending empathy, tough love and compassion, to help a young person recover.
Playing time: 30 min.
How to Order
"Why Don't They Just Quit?" website
(click the link below)
"Teens Under the
|Enter coupon codeTEENDVD
in indicated box
at the end of your order.
(Note: you may need to write this code down so you will have it at checkout)Click for ordering info.
Offer ends February 29, 2008
Now you can explore ...
of past newsletters
and press releases.
|to access our Archive and to read info on:
- INTERVENTION -
from Jan. 2008
- WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH STRESS? -
from Dec. 2007
- HOLIDAY PROBLEMS? -
from Nov. 2007
- Q&A "ASK JOE" -
Most of the
|From time to time,
emails and letters
we have touched.
It is because of people like you, that we are passionate about what we do. We love reading your stories of encouragement
and we know that sharing one's story not only brings healing and hope to others, but to the person who has actually been through it.
That is what this community is about ... providing hope.
We would love to hear your story.
Please email us at:
(click on email link at the bottom of this page)
write us at:
Changing Lives Foundation
PO Box 19197
Boulder, CO 80308
Too many parents believe that they have the power to cure the problem or to control the problem and change it themselves.
And that's a major mistake.
"Teens Under the Influence"
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bottom line is . . .
when I take away the pain,
when I take away the crisis,
I ALMOST ENSURE . . .
the thing is going to happen,
that I am trying to
Here's my statement:
Can you love your child enough
to let him hurt?
love him enough
to let him
be mad at you?
can do that,
that's the love
that they need.
"Teens Under the Influence"