There is a dynamic I call the ‘triangle of dysfunction’ which includes a victim, a villain and a hero. What can happen in difficult situations is there is one person who is victimized, either by themselves or by others. In the case of addiction, it could be the addict who is struggling to overcome their addiction. The young addict’s parents become completely consumed with how to help their kid get healthy and overcome their addiction. There are often times when the parents do not always agree on what to do. Certainly this can happen when the parents are still married and can be complicated if the parents are divorced. When the addict does something that results in serious consequences like getting arrested for possession of illegal drugs it can be difficult to determine what to do. When the call comes to the parents to help ‘bail me out of jail’ it is a very difficult situation. On one hand you do not want your child to be in jail and on the other hand you know that they need to take responsibility for their actions. If one parent says ‘no’ I won’t bail you out, and then the other parent says ‘yes’ I’ll bail you out. The one who says ‘no’ becomes the villain and the one who says ‘yes’ becomes the hero.
I’m not going to lobby for which is the ‘right’ thing for the parents to do, but I will lobby that an agreement gets made together to avoid the ‘triangle of dysfunction’. By banding together and discussing the possible ways to handle the response and giving a united front to your kid or young adult you will avoid the chance of being played against one another. It will also show your loved one that you care enough to work together and that you are consistent. By giving different answers or reversing decisions of one parent creates a disruptive and erratic family dynamic. Keep in communication and try to agree together whenever possible. It will foster a positive relationship for all involved.
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