During the past four years, Barbara did research surveying 300 recovering adolescents and young adults and worked directly with 200 parents. She surveyed teens from recovery high school and young adults who were in sober living program on their insights of what they needed from their parents, what they wish their parents knew about them, affects of addiction on their relationship with parents, parent appreciations, and many other questions. The patterns that showed up from their responses and the influences of mindfulness and attachment theory, helped her develop 5 key strategies that transform parenting by teaching parents directly how to strengthen their foundation. Parents who have implemented these 5 steps have gained life-enhancing freedom and detachment from addiction and rediscovered hope, empowerment, and joy. Parents are taught to detach and not abandon their kids and how to manage recovery for themselves, and their families
Here are a few of the responses from the surveys directly from recovering teens and young adults that highlight their needs and suggestions to parents.
“If you were a parent, what would you do different?”
- I would have shown up and been around more
- I would nurture my kids
- Be less controlling
- Talk more about drugs and alcohol
- I wouldn’t be overbearing and when my kids were upset. I would just listen instead of trying to fix them.
- Tell my child how special they are to me and that they are loved
- Keep better tabs on how my child spent all the money given to them
- I would not blame my kids for all the problems in our family
“How has addiction affected your relationship with your parents?”
- They lost trust in me, and I’m not sure when it will ever be back.
- My addiction further distanced our relationship.
- When I was depressed, I totally shut down and blocked my parents out, which only caused them to try harder.
- My addiction was like a heavy fence around me, kicking out my parents.
“Dear Parents, I wish you knew....”
- I did my best and tried to be stable but couldn’t. I also wish you knew how much I have suffered. Sometimes I feel that they only saw my maladaptive behavior as an attack against them rather than a cry for help or an act of desperation
- That I’m trapped in a vicious cycle.
- I didn’t make a conscience decision to become addicted to drugs
- That I love them and never wanted to hurt them with my addiction