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Being a parent is hard work.
I've been a parent for almost six years, and in that time I've had many successes and some failures. I've done lots of things right and a few things wrong. (OK, maybe more than a few things wrong.) My point is, parenting is a work in progress.
No one does it perfectly.
And, unfortunately, no matter how great you are as a parent, your kids can still screw up.
I know some incredible parents who have tried relentlessly to help their children make the right decisions and stay on the right track. But, no matter how hard they try, it seems their children are destined for failure. Because, realistically, no matter how much advice a mom or dad gives their child, or how much guidance they provide, their children can still make really bad decisions.
And no one hates it worse than the parents.
I've seen this happen most often when it comes to drug abuse.
A young person starts hanging out with the wrong crowd, engaging in risky behaviors, eventually becoming addicted to drugs.
Just recently, Lebanon Mayor Gary Crenshaw spoke about the local drug problem. He asked local leaders and the community-at-large to help him and local law enforcement officials combat the issue. I applaud the mayor for speaking about it publicly, and initiating a local war on drugs. After all, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it's going to take an even bigger village to fight the local drug problem. Community leaders, law enforcement officials, local citizens, young people and their parents are all going to have to work on this together.
And, I agree with Crenshaw, parents play a huge role.
"No community will ever solve the social ills of that community with elected officials or somebody that wears a badge," Crenshaw said during a recent town forum. "It requires parental guidance, parental responsibility, and those parents to have the resources where they can educate themselves on how to be good parents."
While I agree with Crenshaw's statement, I also feel it's important to point out that even the best parents can't always "fix" their children's problems, especially when it comes to drug addiction. More importantly, just because a young person has fallen victim to the drug epidemic doesn't mean their parents have failed. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that there are some really horrible parents out there who either turn a blind eye to the problem or simply don't care enough to deal with it. But, there are also some phenomenal parents who have tried tirelessly to help their children avoid drugs or help them fight their addiction. But, time and time again, their children continue to fall into the same abyss, no matter how tightly their parents try to hold their hands and keep them from falling.
It's such a sad, harsh reality.
I've experienced, firsthand, how painful addiction can be for a family. I know how agonizing it is to watch your loved one continue to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of their addiction. And, in the end, you're left feeling completely helpless and defeated because there is nothing more you can do to help that person. Until he or she is willing to help himself or herself, there is nothing anyone else can do. The addict has to be ready and willing to get the support he or she needs.
A parent can't do that for them.
A mom or dad (or wife or daughter or best friend) can't make that happen.
Many of the parents I know would do (or have done) almost anything to help pull their children out of addiction's dark abyss. But, unless their child gives them their hand, they're powerless. And, as a parent, I'm convinced there is nothing worse. To watch your son or daughter sink further and further into that dark abyss... it's a parent's worse nightmare. A nightmare too many parents are living today.
But, no matter how deep their children fall into that deep, dark abyss, good parents are always there, in the light, waiting and willing to help. That's what makes them good parents.
So, just keep holding out your hands, parents. Sometimes that's all you can do. And, maybe, just maybe, your child will eventually be ready and willing to grab hold.