Better Parenting Starts with Improving Ourselves
6. Is your love for alcohol or drugs bigger than your love for your children?
James loves his 10-year-old daughter. He looks forward to seeing her every other weekend. He doesn’t have much money but he and his daughter have found ways to enjoy each other’s company without big-ticket adventures. They read together. They watch a little TV. They make spaghetti sauce or brownies.
Mostly, he’s able to keep her unaware that he’s also addicted to crack. But when the craving comes, he loses perspective. He promised his daughter he would provide her some dance lessons. The dance money went to his habit. He promised her a trip to the movies this weekend. But a pipe on Thursday was too hard to resist. He feels guilty. He always promises to do better. But, bottom line, the addiction has become more powerful than his love. At some point, his daughter will figure this out. At some point, she’s going to feel that he doesn’t love her as much as he says he does.
He does love her. But he loves the crack more. “You’ll never understand, Dr. Marie, “ he says. “That first drag is so amazing that it’s worth all the sh– that comes with it.” He’s right. I don’t understand. And he’s fooling himself. He needs treatment. His daughter needs a dad who is clean.
- Get treatment. If you can’t end the habit, consider whether someone else should raise your child. Sometimes the best way to love a child is to find someone who can love him or her in ways you can’t.
7. Do you put yourself under too much pressure to be perfect?
Internal pressure to be good, right, in charge, and perfect in every way can actually make parenting more difficult than it needs to be. Perfection just isn’t possible. If you feel you need to be perfect to be good enough, you’re in trouble.
Adrian is a nervous wreck. His own dad died when he was only 5. Now that he has a son, he’s working overtime to be the kind of dad he wishes he’d had. He makes sure he plays with his son every day. He organizes the neighborhood kids into pick-up basketball games. He checks on homework. He spends almost every weekend doing some kind of sport or activity with his son. He’s a bundle of nervous, hyper energy, constantly acting as both the cheering squad and the captain of the team. He’s exhausted.
His wife wants a little time for the two of them but feels selfish for complaining. How can she be critical of a guy who is such a hard-working dad when her friends complain that their husbands are never around?
It’s not the involvement that’s a problem. It’s the driven quality of it that will probably backfire. Adrian can’t keep this up forever. He’s so busy being the perfect father of his imagination that he isn’t taking the time to figure out what his own son really needs from him. He’s so focused on being a good dad that he’s forgetting that his wife needs some of his time too. He’s so driven that he’s driving the joy out of what he does.