As the mother of an alcoholic adult daughter, I carried the guilt of “if only….” If only I had raised her differently, spoken differently to her, given her more attention, more structure, or less structure, I could have changed the outcome, and she wouldn’t have become an alcoholic. Going to Al‑Anon meetings had helped me detach from my guilt regarding my alcoholic father and other members of my family, but I still felt a pinch of guilt when it came to my daughter. Learning that I hadn’t caused her alcoholism, I could not control it, and I could not cure it was a great help. However, a true understanding of that principle and the importance of learning to keep the focus on myself came to light while helping my adult son shop for a car.
After researching all about types of cars, pricing, etc., my son asked me to go shopping at several car dealerships with him. I was so proud of all the work he had done and how he presented the information to me. I thought, Wow, I’ve done a good job teaching him. When he finally chose a car and was applying for the financing, the salesman told him he had never seen such a high credit score for such a young man. So, there I was again, filled with such pride at how well I had done teaching my son to be financially responsible. I was bursting with joy and said to myself, “That’s my son,” literally taking the credit for all his hard work.
Then it dawned on me. If I took all the credit for my son’s accomplishments, I would, therefore, have to take all the responsibility for my daughter’s choices and actions. So, I stood in silence in the middle of the dealership, suddenly appreciating many things I had learned in Al‑Anon. I was determined to begin applying them to my own life, right then and there.
I realized that I have three wonderful children who are all different. I raised them all in the same flawed, imperfect way. I love them all equally. But if I take credit for their good adult choices, then I must accept responsibility for the bad ones as well. They are adults. As their mother, I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. They are now responsible for themselves. And as for my daughter’s alcoholism, I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it! I can detach with love and ask my Higher Power to guide me and watch over both of us. My Higher Power is in charge, not me. I will keep the focus on me from now on!
By Angela C., Florida
The Forum, May 2022
Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.