Parents Breaking Codependent Tendencies with Their TeensBecause They Grew Up In Alcoholic Homes
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I’m Laura Lyles Reagan and I grew up in an alcoholic home.
I am incredibly grateful that my family found recovery. I sought to break the generational cycle of alcoholism in my family. I even got a degree in substance abuse counseling in an effort to facilitate that for myself and others, but the disease of alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful, if not insidious. I am also a recovering alcoholic with 19 years of sobriety. My disease is arrested, not cured.
My bottom came when I wrote my daughters good-bye letters. I wanted to die. The pain of depression was incredibly poignant, in part because alcohol is a depressant and towards the end, I was drinking daily. I felt guilt and shame because “it was never going to happen to me.”
That’s the battle cry of every child of an alcoholic that I know and yet, 80% of us become alcoholics ourselves, marry an alcoholic or other compulsive personality. My guilt and shame was particularly heavy about my daughters suffering from the family disease of alcoholism.
With all the research and discussion about trauma these days, it is easy to assume that I drank because of the childhood trauma of alcoholism, but I did not. I drank because I am alcoholic, and one drink is never enough. That truth is very difficult for those outside of recovery to understand, but it is the truth.
Research demonstrates that alcoholics metabolize alcohol differently, pointing to a pre-disposition towards developing addictive disease. The American Medical Association defines alcoholism as a disease because there is a beginning, middle and an end to the disease.
The end is death or institutions, whether the asylum or jail. Alcoholism can be arrested but never cured which is why I choose to call myself a recovering alcoholic.
Recovery comes in the form of a spiritual awakening.
Recovery freed me and freed my family, both my family of origin and my family with my daughters.
The pioneering expert in adult children of alcoholics work, Janet Woititz, states that every practicing alcoholic home has three rules:
In this way, the alcoholic family perpetuates denial of the problem and keeps family secrets.
In Recovery, We Get in Touch With Our Feelings and Share Them In Loving Trust.
In the conscious parenting movement, many of us are re-parenting ourselves as we raise our children. We identify our triggers, often leading to inner child work, we identify enmeshments and become capable of taking personal responsibility for our own thoughts, actions and feelings. We practice boundaries which in turn helps our children take full responsibility for their thoughts, actions and feelings.
Just like traditional recovery, conscious parents break generational patterns by 1) Talking 2) Learning to Trust and 3) Feeling the Full Spectrum of our Emotions.
Our Role in Our Family of Origin
Sometimes its helpful to look deeper in our family of origin to define tendencies that block us from becoming and expressing our authentic selves.
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse’s seminal work in Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family identifies six survival roles the family adopts. Four roles are designated for the children. Depending on birth order and personality traits, they are: hero, scapegoat, lost child, and mascot.
- Substance Abuser
- Role: To act irresponsibly
- Purpose: To suppress more basic marital conflict, to divert attention away from more threatening family issues
- Chief Enabler
- Role: To reduce tension in family by “smoothing things over”
- Purpose: Offers the family a sense of stability and protection
- Family Hero (usually oldest child)
- Role: Source of pride for family
- Purpose: Offers family a sense of being okay, gives them hope and something to feel good about
- Family Scapegoat (usually second oldest child)
- Role: Alter ego of the family hero
- Purpose: Offers family a sense of purpose by providing someone to blame
- Lost Child (may be middle or youngest child)
- Role: Seeks to avoid conflict at all costs
- Purpose: Offers family a sense of relief and success, and is not trouble to them
- Family Mascot (usually the youngest child)
- Role: To play the “family clown”
- Purpose: To bring laughter and fun into the home
Many adults on their own re-parenting and consciousness journey identify with some or part of these roles because their unique voices were not heard as children.
Part of my mission is to serve conscious parents to help them free themselves of the roots of their co-dependent behavior.
There is hope for the alcoholic family by finding their voices and launching their own individual journeys towards authenticity.
The self-help groups of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups, including Adult Children of Alcoholics can be helpful.
The Journey to Freedom
I’m on a mission to help parents in recovery transmit recovery principles by relating heart to heart in their families.
Since my family of origin came to recovery later in life, I didn’t have a model of how to share or speak consciously. I set out on a course of study and awakenings that led me to develop a type of roadmap through conscious communication skills.
These skills led me to speak openly about recovery concepts with my children and facilitate discussions about their choices regarding alcohol. Communicating from the heart laid the foundation to break the generational cycle of alcoholism in our roots.
My work in the conscious parenting movement and in recovery finds alignment by offering an adaptation of the Twelve Steps of Conscious Parenting and the Twelve Steps for Recovering Parents.
Coaching for Parents of Teens for Parents in Recovery
If you downloaded my 12 Steps to Parenting Teens for Parents in Recovery, you can begin to apply them in your life. I’ll support you on your journey to grow in consciousness so you can experience peace with your teen without passing on codependent tendencies.
I invite you to set up a free Journey to Freedom Call with me
so I can get to know you and your family and discuss a coaching program using my
Signature Recovering Parents Raising Teens Pathway:
Balancing Recovery and Parenting
Abstinence from mood altering chemicals, including alcohol works as a baseline for family recovery. The 12 steps have the power to transform when applied to personal and family recovery. I know the 12 steps is THE pathway to spiritual awakening for people in recovery AND a critically valuable pathway to spiritual awakening for conscious parents.
I knew I was parenting from a conscious parenting approach when both my daughters trusted me enough with to share their anger openly. When I was growing up, I had such a hard time giving people my anger because that’s not what “good girls” did. “Good girls were “pleasing.” I am grateful we broke that pattern.
And even though they were angry about the divorce and had their own growth to work through, they never blamed themselves for it as some children of divorce do. I attribute that to working the 12 steps and consciously owning my part in the divorce.
My daughters became awesome powerful women in their own right. They chose academic pathways and careers that took them away from me. My oldest daughter works at sea. And my youngest daughter chose a school 6 states away!
I knew conscious recovery had its way in me because I took joy in their choices. I was so grateful they didn’t feel codependently responsible for me. Their independence from me was a hallmark of their growth and mine.
Conscious growth, working the 12 steps of recovery and spiritual awakening in the messiness of life certainly did not occur in a vacuum for me. It requires a lot of support and I was blessed to have an amazing coach and several mentors and guides. I would like to support your journey, the way I was supported throughout my journey. If you’d like to know more about parent coaching for parents in recovery, please schedule a free Journey to Freedom Call with me and we’ll find the way forward, together.
Have a question? Don’t hesitate to reach out any time: click here to email me!
5 Fast Facts About Me:
I have a Masters of Science in Sociology, specializing in interactionism, communication dynamics, and the sociology of childhood and adolescence.
I’m a former instructor in the Sociology of Childhood and Adolescence at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
My original research, “Dynamic Duos,” about adult mentor and parent impact on youth and teens was featured in the Journal of Applied Social Science, 2013.
My youth development career spans service in Mexico City as a youth substance abuse counselor to non-profit management in Texas.
My teen and parent coaching service has trained teens, parents, and educators nationwide. I conduct workshops on hot topics such as substance abuse, bullying prevention, and teen suicide prevention.
Don’t forget to download the 12 Steps to Parenting Teens for Parents in Recovery!
Parents in recovery are often looking for worksheets, curriculum, classes, or even an instruction manual to make sure they can balance recovery and parenting and overcome any “bad” parenting. If you know alcohol affected your parenting or that another parent’s drinking affected your child and want to stop the cycle in its tracks, the 12 Steps PDF is the first step. From there you can decide if you want to go down the Journey to Freedom Pathway with me in a one-on-one coaching experience.
Please be sure to reach out if you have any questions, and don’t forget to join my Facebook Group for recovering parents!
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