I am the mother of three children, one of whom is an alcoholic. Sandy is 22 and has been drinking since she was 17. I have been to hell and back helping her get sober, but by the grace of God, she is 90 days sober today! I’m not writing to let you know she got sober, but for a completely different issue about my other two children. Since I spent so much time with Sandy getting sober over the past 5 years, my other two children feel neglected because I spent so much time getting Sandy help and now I feel like I have this overwhelming guilt I did something wrong.. How do I do continue giving Sandy the support she needs while making up for the guilt I feel about neglecting my other two children
Feeling the guilt
Dear Feeling the Guilt,
Of course you feel guilty, what mother wouldn’t feel guilty if their kids came to them and said, “Mom, I don’t feel like you’re paying attention to me enough.”! Parenting is hard enough with normal kids, let alone throw in one that is an addict. Parenting is also an ever revolving door of learning. It sounds as if you’re kids had expectations as did you in parenting and somewhere in the process a ball was dropped, leaving them to feel neglected and you feeling the quilt as a disappointed mother.
Ever heard of the saying, “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments.”? I know you cannot set expectations with your other children, but you can certainly sit them down and let them know what is going on, if you already haven’t done so, and how you can all support Sandy in her sobriety.
When I was active in my addiction I was living at home with my younger brother and sister and they felt neglected too. In fact, my sister once said, “Why can’t he just get over it and act right.” I recently asked my Mom if she felt guilty about giving me more attention than my siblings. She explained that she did not feel guilty about spending more time on me when I needed it because at one point or another, she will spend the exact time on my other siblings. She worked hard to keep things balanced for them and as she got healthy she was able to balance her love and attention even more. Feeling guilt really won’t serve you or your children – just do your best to make sure you are healthy – that is the best thing you can do for your family.
Now go take your guilt ridden feelings on a ride through the country and throw them out the window. Bye bye guilt!
You’ve got this,