***** I'm sure you're exhausted from all of your tackling today--sit for a spell and relax; read this fabulous interview with Allison Bottke, author of the newly released "Setting Boundaries....." It may be the most valuable tackle you do today. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment for Allison!
Interview with Allison Bottke
Thank you Allison for taking the time to speak to my "Partners in Prayer" about your new book, "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents." In previous interviews you have stated that you have come to embrace "a truth that has changed my life--I no longer believe in coincidences, I now embrace that God is the
Master of orchestrating 'God-cidences.' "
I believe, Allison, that this very moment has been orchestrated by God to minister to those who are reading this interview. I believe with you that God "has a plan for who he wants us to meet, what lessons he wants us to learn, even what books he wants us to read. He even has a plan for the trials and tribulations of life."
Since the start of Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals nearly three years ago, I have witnessed this very truth in action and am so honored to have you here with us today to discuss your very personal journey to writing this book.
You write that this book has come 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.
It is difficult line to walk between helping and enabling our adult children. You say there are two separate yet intrinsically combined things going on when we look at the pathology of enabling our adult children, help us understand--what are those two things?
#1. We have the issue of the dysfunctional child himself--the product of our enabling. Most often, we are dealing with adult children who have no concept of healthy boundaries as they pertain to their parents and grandparents. Many are dealing with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, and more. Some of these children are involved in illegal activity, while others have been in and out of jail numerous times. Some are abusive to us. Some have jobs while others do not, most have extreme financial challenges. Others are still living at home, and some have even moved their spouse or "significant other" into their parents' home with them. Many have been in and out of treatment centers, most often at the urging (and cost) of their parents. While we cannot change the behavior of our adult children, we can change how we respond to their actions and to their choices. We can, and must, begin to establish healthy boundaries and rules.
#2. Then, we have the issue of our own personal health and growth (or lack thereof). For many of us, we have spent years taking care of, bailing out, coming to the rescue, making excuses for, crying over, praying for, and otherwise focusing an unhealthy amount of time and attention on this adult child, that we have neglected our own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Many of us have neglected other family members as well, as the adult child has taken so much of our energy. Some of us are now experiencing severe financial ramifications from having enabled our adult child. Others are finding their marriage falling apart as tempers flair and situations spiral out of control. What is it inside of us that makes us respond in such a way--that makes us enable our adult children?
Amen! Sister! You've got my attention! If, as you say, the main problem with dysfunctional adult children isn't the choice they make or don't make--but something else entirely; if their choices aren't the main problem, what is?
Our biggest problem isn't about our adult child's inability to wake up when their alarm clock rings, or their inability to keep a schedule, or their inability to hold down a job or pay their bills. It's not about their drug use or alcohol addictions. It's not about the mess they're making of their life. The main problem is about the part we're playing in stepping in to soften the blow of the consequences that come from the choices they make. The main problem is us. Instead of praying to God to stop the pain, remove the difficulty, or change the life of our adult child, we must rise up and pray for something entirely different. We must pray for the courage to look deep in our own heart and soul--pray for the strength to begin a journey that quite possibly may change our own life--and pray for the wisdom to make new choices in our own life.
Somehow, Allison, this is very encouraging news! After years of trying to change our dysfunctional adult child, you have given us the hopeful news that there is something tangible we can do--have the power to do--change me! After years of subconsciously, inadvertently and sometimes intentionally enabling (sometimes it's just easier to give in!), what are some things that parents can do to break the cycle of enabling?
Follow the six steps to S.A.N.I.T.Y.:
S: Stop blaming yourself and stop the flow of money. Stop continually rescuing your adult children from one mess after another.
A: Assemble a support group of other parents in the same situation.
N: Nip excuses in the bud.
I: Implement rules and boundaries.
T: Trust your instincts.
Y: 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.
Brilliant, Allison! By using an acronym, and an appropriate one at that, you have given us a tool to remember as we transform our prayers, our thoughts and our actions. A worthy goal for every parent. What is the ultimate goal of "Setting Boundaries?"
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 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.
This book is more than a social science research project, from the opening pages, you are very candid regarding your own struggle to boundaries with your adult son, in a section titled "Why I Had to Write This Book." Why did you feel the need to be so open so quickly?
There are many good books available on boundaries. Most of them are written from the perspective of a psychologist, therapist, counselor, or theologian. Never in my years of searching for help did I find a book on boundaries written by a parent in pain who had walked in my shoes. I wanted readers to quickly understand that this book was different.
Where can my "partners in prayer" go for more information on your book and on the S.A.N.I.T.Y. ministry?
Everything you could possibly need is contained on our web site, Sanity Support Group Network. I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children." I really do want to hear reader feedback. They can reach me at "mailto:SettingBoundaries@SanitySupport.com"
Remember to tell a friend in need and help save a life!
Allison, thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us today and in "Setting Boundaries." You have given us tangible ways to regain control and for that, I say THANK YOU! Let the healing begin! "Real healing begins when a parent stops believing the excuses and lies and insists on the truth. As we develop our action plan, there must be no room for excuses. Our boundaries must be firm. There is a right and there is a wrong, and we are going to choose to do what's right. Period (p. 118, Bottke, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children).
As we put our action plans into motion, let us always remember, "We should never give up hope that our adult children will find a way out of the dark abyss of addiction. We should never stop encouraging them, emotionally supporting them, and loving them. And we should never stop praying for them. Miracles happen every day, and God will make a way where there seems to be no way" (p. 189). Like the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, may we begin today--and everyday by surrendering our adult child(ren) to the God and keep our eyes on the prize--the banquet that awaits each of our prodigals as they discover their way home. For as Allison writes, "We do not parent as those who have no hope. We have a God who watches over our children--if we'll just get out of His way and let Him do the restoring" (p. 72).
Let me know, please, if you're getting out of His way today--won't you? I am; I may need your support and should you need mine--I'll be here. And so will the many others who are praying with us.....daily....for the miracles we long for. Today, let's agree to pray that the miracle will begin in us!