It struck me the other day that there is a very fine line between being mad at our kids and going mad over our kids. At one end of the continuum, we’ve got anger; at the other, insanity. That realization got me thinking about the word “mad” and how it can represent the full spectrum of parental experience. To wit:
- I’m madly in love with you.
- I’m mad at you.
- I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! (Al-Anon calls this detachment. In the ideal world, this would be tempered with love)
- Stop the madness.
- I’ve gone mad!
We’ve all seen how our incessant anger at teen addiction can percolate into an uncontrollable obsession that commandeers our lives. I reached that point when my doctor asked me how I was doing, and I reported on my son’s travails instead. Like a deer in the headlights, I froze when she reminded me that I was not my child. I was so enmeshed in his wellness and illness that it had become my own.
Saying “No” to madness can mean the difference between getting off the ledge or going over the edge. How do we separate from our children when their substance abuse has hijacked our brains? How do we stop the madness and detach with love? Readers, please share comments on this important topic.