Family Relationships

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Today, we're pleased to welcome Alison Bottke, author of "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing."

In Allison's words, "You are helping to spread the word about a topic that desperately needs to be addressed. Our country is in a crisis of epidemic proportion concerning adult children whose lives are spinning out of control, leaving parents and grandparents broken-hearted and confused.

The book comes out of your own personal experience with your son. Please tell us about that.

ALLISON: For years I really thought I was helping my son. I wanted him to have the things I never had growing up. I love my son, and I didn’t want him to hurt—but sometimes pain is a natural result of the choices we make. For a long time I didn’t understand the part I was playing in the ongoing drama that had become my son’s life—I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to live in constant chaos and crisis because of his choices. When I chose to stop the insanity and start living a life of hope and healing my life changed. It’s a feeling I want other struggling parents and grandparents to experience. I want other parents to know that change is possible when we choose to stop the destructive cycle of enabling. And we can stop it. I know, because I’ve done it.

How can we determine whether we are helping versus enabling our children?

ALLISON: Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself.

Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself.

An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

What are some of the most common ways that parents enable their children?

ALLISON: Being the Bank of Mom and Dad, or the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa. Loaning money that is never repaid, buying things they can’t afford and don’t really need. Continually coming to their rescue so they don’t feel the pain—the consequences—of their actions and choices. Accepting excuses that we know are excuses—and in some instances are downright lies. Blaming ourselves for their problems. We have given too much and expected too little.

What are some things that parents can do to break the cycle of enabling?

ALLISON: Follow the six steps to S.A.N.I.T.Y.: Stop blaming yourself and stop the flow of money. Stop continually rescuing your adult children from one mess after another. Assemble a support group of other parents in the same situation. Nip excuses in the bud. Implement rules and boundaries. Trust your instincts. Yield everything to God, because you’re not in control. These six things can start a parent on the road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. in an insane situation that is spinning out of control. However, a key issue in breaking the cycle of enabling is to understand whose problem it really is.

What is the ultimate goal of Setting Boundaries?

ALLISON: While recognizing and identifying enabling issues must come before positive change can be made, it is the eventual peace and healing parents will feel as they gain power in their own lives that is the goal of this book. It’s a tough love book for coping with dysfunctional adult children, as well as getting our own lives back on track, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children empowers families by offering hope and healing through six S.A.N.I.T.Y. steps. I walk parents through a six step program to regaining control in their home, and in their life.

Tell us about the S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group Network you founded. How can people get involved?

ALLISON: The “A” step in S.A.N.I.T.Y. is to ASSEMBLE a support group. This is a vital component in being able to look at our situations more objectively. We have developed a powerful Companion Study Guide that can be read individually or in a group setting. This Companion Study Guide contains all the information you need to conduct a S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support group in your neighborhood or community. Visit our web site here to find out more:

The S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group Network is a powerful resource to help parents and grandparents who have challenging adult children gain S.A.N.I.T.Y. in a world spinning out of control. During the years I spent as an enabling parent there were no support groups available for me as a parent in pain. Although it’s a tremendously successful program, AA wasn’t quite right for me, and I attended a few Alanon meetings, but the kind of empowering strength I needed for my situation wasn’t available. I needed to hear from others who had walked in my shoes—I needed to hear what they were doing that worked. I needed people around me who would lovingly hold me accountable to my own choices as I experienced the journey of parenting and enabling a dysfunctional adult child. I needed an action plan to help me make changes in my life.

So many families suffer this pain and we appreciate Allison shedding light in such a personal way. Now readers, please ask your questions and share your thoughts by clicking on "comments."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say to set limits but, no matter how hard I try, my daughter's arguments convince me to help her out this one last time.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have joined different groups over the years but don't go for long - I don't want to hear about everybody else's problems. How can a support group really help?

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the person who is questioning the value of support groups. I, too, made lots of starts and stops. For me, part of it was I was embarrassed by my son's problems and by my inability to solve them for him.

I have finally found a group run by a therapist who specializes in this kind of work and I feel as if I've come home. So my advice is, don't stop looking - the right fit is out there. Molly

1:28 PM  
Blogger Allison Bottke said...

I fully understand your thoughts regarding support groups. I've developed the SANITY Support Group Network with clear guidelines for the goal of the group. To develop an Action Plan that will empower parents. Not to spend inordinate amounts of time on any one person's problems. And to the anonymous Jackie, all I can say is that you are making a choice to cave in to your daughter. In order for things to change you must begin to make different and better choices. I suggest picking up a copy of my book to see what I mean. Until WE change, our kids are going to continue their negative behavior. But WE CAN change. I know, because I did it. I got SANITY and life is more peaceful and joyful than it's ever been. Not easy, not without challenges and pain, but I no longer live in ongoing chaos and crisis with my adult child.

5:28 PM  

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