I got a call from my college student on Thursday evening, “Mom, I think I want to come home this weekend if that’s cool. I’m bringing my XBox. (Insert long pause.) I lost two days this week.”
I was thankful that he recognized his addiction relapse. You see, he agonized over whether he should take his XBox to school with him after Christmas break. He understood what it could mean for him if he couldn’t maintain self-control–for his study time. He recognized how easy it was to get sucked into the vortex of video gaming because it was an easy way to escape from the riggers of school.
I have experienced that pull of addictive behavior myself, but it is always with food. Chocolate is my downfall. For me it is like that old commercial slogan “You can’t eat just one”. One piece and I am destined to give in to my sweet tooth for weeks.
About two months ago I came face to face with addiction in a whole new way. You see, my son and I have spent many hours waiting in the doctor’s office over the past five years. Typically he plays a video game on his iPhone while I sit and read a magazine. On that particular day I had read just about every magazine in the office and instead downloaded a solitaire app on my phone. According to my son it was really lame, but it kept my mind off the waiting.
It didn’t take long until I found myself on the app while I was eating breakfast by myself, or before I went to bed, or when I needed a break from my work, or just because I could. And it hit me–this is what addiction is. It is a mind-numbing opportunity to not have to deal with the _______ (boredom, frustration, stress, housework, kids, insert whatever you want) of life.
I also found that my days were not quite the same. Something was missing. What I discovered was that I didn’t wake up with a praise song in my mind as I usually did. I couldn’t feel the Lord’s presence during the day, like I was used to. I didn’t long to spend time with Him–because the stupid game was calling me.
Our culture breeds addictive behaviors, whether it be constantly on the go, on our phones, games, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, television, or the sugary foods we eat. You name it and it can become addictive.
Do you long to hear His voice yet have something that is in the way?
Is there something more powerful that is calling you that takes precedent over Him?
I’ve had many moms share that they see the addictions in their kids’ lives–texting, gaming, the endless YouTube videos, and the list goes on. But do we recognize them in our own lives?
What kind of influence do our addictions have on our kids? Do they see us tuning out real life rather than being in the moment–with them?
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Typically our kids’ addictive behaviors tend to drive us up a wall. We try to talk to them, but they are so engrossed in whatever it is that we feel we need to yell to get their attention. Then, if we’re like most parents, we start adding rules to get rid of the problem. When that doesn’t work, we start taking away privileges.
Instead of success in dealing with the addiction problem we create another problem that sets us up for failure when it comes to building a relationship with our kids.
And then we either feel like a mean mom or fear that our kid is doomed and destined to become an irresponsible adult.
Something that I’ve learned through this process is that you can’t help an addict unless they want help and recognize their need for help.
Let me say it a different way. All the yelling or punitive action won’t help, unless they recognize that they have a problem and want you to help them.
So why even go down that path?
Next week I’ll talk about a different path that it more likely to help you and your kids with those addictive behaviors. But in the meantime, I have an assignment for you.
- This week, pay attention to your addictive behaviors and those of your kid. Just identify them. Nothing more.
- If you see your kid engaging in those activities and they won’t listen to you. Don’t yell. For this week, just ignore them if you can.
Dare you to actively complete the assignments above for you and your teens. It has the potential to bring peace to your home like never before. And next week I’ll share what to do with that information. Until then…
“Let go…and let God”,
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