Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Are you listening...really?

How often do you take what you hear at face value, excepting it for truth? Do you find yourself perhaps doing a little reading between the lines? Before you answer consider if you are actively listening, fully in the moment; or are you distracted your mind wandering in numerous other directions?

Being an active listener is something that most of us have to learn. Our minds are so cluttered with the business of daily living that we are often times not completely “tuned in” when others are speaking to us. This is especially true with our youth, when they want to talk, you need to be listening. You need to be fully engaged at that very moment. It’s not just about what is being said, but how it is being said; are they looking you in the eyes when they are speaking? What is their body language telling you? Are you only being feed that which they think you want to hear? Are their important missing pieces that need to be flushed out? Yea, I know so much for parents to consider. Can’t we just have a normal conversation with our teens, one in which we just talk. Sometimes yes, absolutely – other times the consequences of what appears to be a simple conversation could result in something more serious. That is why regardless you need to give them your complete undivided attention.

When young people become involved with drugs/alcohol on any level of consumption it’s a deal changer. I have heard many parents (more than I care to think about) be very unconcerned when their teens are “experimenting with drugs/alcohol”. Experimenting are you kidding me??? Do you know how many experiments turn out badly, even deadly? We are not talking about a controlled environment here. Their experimentation is not controlled in any way. There isn’t anyone standing by their side in case it blows up. If you are minimizing their use of pot or alcohol or whatever it is then shame on you! Seriously, why would you do that in the first place? Is it because ‘hey I did it and I turned out okay”, or maybe you don’t consider it enough of a threat to their life at this point to be worried about it. Well, your wakeup call is here folks! It’s your responsibility as a parent to let them know how unacceptable their behavior is and to do everything you can to contain it and curtail it. Knowledge is power, but only if it is put into action.

If your child is involved in the drug/alcohol culture already then be prepared to be lied to, over and over again. You think not? Ahh, you would be wrong. That’s where you need to be listening, really listening. Watching… their friends (have they changed recently); their personal habits; their family involvement or lack thereof; their grades; their overall attitude. Ok, so you’re thinking that seems like a great deal of extra work, hmmmm shouldn’t you be doing that anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I remember missing very important details when my daughter was in the throes of drug use. We all do the best we can, but do it! It’s that important. Every moment is a teachable moment… use each one you get and live what you teach. They are certainly watching you.

Pray for our youth… everywhere… everyday!

God Bless!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chains and prison

My heart cries out to the Lord what I can do to help these precious children see that their addiction is leading them to an early grave. The tears I have shed and will continue to shed go uncounted. Each and every day I am on my knees in prayer for these lost young ones who can’t seem to break the chains of their addictions. It’s not that I don’t understand why they can’t because I do get it. The majority of folks out there feel as if the road to narcotic addition recovery should be a fairly or moderately easy road to travel. All you have to do is just say no and stay away from those that say yes. As our young ones say on Facebook Pfffff… ahhh no it’s nowhere near that simple. As a matter of fact addicts live within their own private prison, chained to a need both physically and emotionally and their soul bleeds and cries out please make it stop.

Most of us can’t even begin to imagine a need so ferrous that we will did whatever it takes to fulfill that need. It’s nothing personal but addicts will steal from their own loved ones, prostitute themselves and rob a stranger blind in order to stop the pain of withdrawal or revisit the high they need in order to function. It is such a heartbreaking situation. In their eyes they have no choice, it really isn’t about hurting those they love, it’s all about taming this horrendous monster that lives inside of them. All too often the more times they try and fail to find recovery, the more they perceive themselves as failures unworthy of ever having a happy, sober life.

When addiction begins early in life, say the teenage years there is a different dynamic involved then when addiction begins in the adult stage of life. Adult’s addicts should for all intents and purposes have acquired a descent set of coping skills. These young ones lack those skills on a monumental level. This issue in and of itself makes recovery more of a challenge. I see it time and time again, these broken children in pieces trying to figure out how to become whole again, only to find they are clueless on how to make it a reality. Intellectually they know how, but there is a huge gap between the knowledge of how to get sober and the ability to put that knowledge into action. Ahhh, there’s the rub folks, knowledge into action…

How I wish I had the answers, sadly I do not. So I just keep praying and loving…

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What are we teaching our children??

Last week during one of my youth drug and alcohol meetings I had a beautiful young woman with eyes filled with fear say “this has been my whole life for four years”. Sadly, she was referring to smoking pot, a large amount of it daily, sprinkled with alcohol and a plethora of pills and other narcotics over the last four years of her life. She is currently 17 years of age. I watched carefully her reactions to my words and questions. Her eyes clearly showed a deep fear and anxiety about getting off of probation and no longer being under someone’s supervisor. She didn’t have a clue how she was going to deal with her new freedom once it was granted. What was she going to be able to pull from deep inside herself to conquer something that clearly had become her whole life; her words not mine. I wondered as I finished up and left the group if she had the proper support system in place to help her conquer her drug use which has been her coping mechanism since the tender age of 13. Or would she wind up like so many other young people out there on their own trying to figure it out and ending up in a lost situation, moving on to bigger quantities of more toxic, dangerous narcotics.

Drug users, drug addicts… wow people sure do have their opinions on the value of their lives. Sad really that so many folks just decide without any real knowledge of addiction to label these individuals as worthless, trash, lazy, and quite frankly those are just a few that are fit to print. How quickly so many are to judge and label their fellow man. I personally find it deplorable; placing labels on anyone. I talk with so many young drug users who had been labeled by their family members. These labels stick folks and it’s difficult for young ones to break free from them. More likely they conform to them because most of today’s youth aren’t taught how to rise above their circumstances. They aren’t given the tools they need to figure out how to become all they are meant to be.

Most of us, as parents are so busy trying to raise happy children that we forget to raise skilled children; children with the skills to cope responsibility with life and whatever gets thrown their way. Society is also busy making sure to gift our children self-esteem. Everyone gets a trophy regardless of whether they have earned it or not. Awards are often given out for less than stellar performance even within the academic community. What does that teach our children? Does it teach them to work to be exceptional? We do so much for them and then expect as they grow up for them to “reach inside and count on themselves” to figure everything out. We expect them to know how to deal with failures and accolades, rejection and popularity. What happens when they fail to our expectations or their own and their inner strength isn’t enough?

Ah, okay you’re probably thinking… I wondered when she was going to go there. Well, yes I am going to go there. Are we failing to teach our children faith, faith in God? We are so busy teaching them things of this world and yet we don’t give them the opportunity to even explore faith in Christ. Why is that? Don’t they deserve the chance to know there is a living God that they can draw near to for strength and comfort? Don’t our young people deserve to know that they don’t have to go through life depending on just their inner strength to navigate through life’s maze of twists and turns?

I wonder if the young woman I mentioned earlier is equipped with the tools of faith to help her on her journey to stay drug free. I wonder if she was taught that she is truly special and truly worthy of having a life filled with joy. I wonder if she knows that she isn’t alone in her fight; that she is loved unconditionally!