Parents: Are you spreading yourselves to thin trying to "rescue" your child from drug use?

Updated: May 18, 2019

Last week, I was making nachos and only had a little bit of cheese left and was faced with a tough decision. I wanted more nachos than I had cheese. So, here was the dilemma: Do I spread the cheese out so I can get more nachos that wouldn’t be as good, but it would be more? OR do I put the right amount of cheese on the nachos. I wouldn’t get as many nachos, but I would enjoy them more.


My answer: What’s the point of having more if you don’t enjoy it? Don’t skimp out on the cheese.

I know what you’re thinking, this is a really cheesy anecdote (pun intended), but what does this have to do with anything?


Let’s move the example away from food because it’s making me hungry. Let’s relate it to our time. We face this dilemma of having to choose where we are putting our time. We have a finite amount of time and it seems like we are trying to spread it out to do everything. But so many of us, myself included in this sometimes, forget to enjoy it.


We have spread ourselves so thin that yes, we are doing more, but we aren’t enjoying anything.


Obligation and expectations are a funny thing.


I know for me, when I start spreading myself really thin, I have to ask myself what I want. What are the things I need to re-prioritize to make sure that what I am doing are things I want to be doing. I have to focus my attention on doing valuable things that enrich my life.


Otherwise, I get stuck in the cycle of doing things I only think are expected of me and I don’t enjoy any of it. I start getting resentful and hateful towards people I only think are putting pressure on me.


Just because someone asks me to do something, doesn’t mean I have to say yes. I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking that it doesn’t apply when your boss or company demands things of you. You HAVE to do it. Maybe that’s true, but often times the deadlines are negotiable.


We automatically assume that if our boss tells us to do something, we HAVE to get it done right away. If we don’t get it done right away, they will think less of us and we want that gold star from our boss. We don’t even ask when they want it done.


For example, my boss would ask me to do something, I never asked when she wanted it done, I would stay up all night to get it done. The next day, yes she was impressed, she was happy, I got a gold star, but then she said “Well, I meant for you to think about it and get it done over the course of the next month or two, not by the next day.” Part of my personality doesn’t allow for projects to go unfinished, but part of me also realizes I never asked her when she expected things to be done. I just assumed she wanted It done ASAP and I had plans the next day so It was either cancel my plans or stay up all night. Those were the options I thought I had.


Trust me, your boss does not expect you to drop everything and rush to their every demand. (There goes that “yes they do” thought. But no, they really don’t) What they want is great work. Not sloppy, resentful, and often passive aggressive work done where you hate everything, but you need a paycheck to live off of (If my boss is reading this, my work has never been sloppy or resentful, I love you). Your boss is not here to give you a gold star, but they do recognize good work.


Back to my point; when we skimp out on the cheese and spread ourselves too thin, nothing is as good as it could be.


Trust me, your bosses, family members, friends…they all want good nachos too. Where are you spreading yourself to thin? What would it look like if you didn’t skimp out on the cheese?


But what does all this have to do with family members that have loved ones in addiction?


Fear, expectations, and obligations will consume our time if we let it. We rush in and try to “save” our loved ones from everything that is bad in this world. We drop everything that is important to us to try and protect them from themselves. We can often start giving up our lives. We have to be at our best to truly help them. That means saying no sometimes and letting them figure it out.

If they got put in jail, they can get themselves out. You didn’t put them there.


If they spent all their money on drugs and don’t have anywhere to live, you didn’t do that to them, they did that to themselves. If you let them back in your house, it’s your rules…PERIOD. Let them deal with the consequences of not following your rules. You aren’t kicking them out, they are kicking themselves out.


If they have to be fired, you aren’t firing them, they are firing themselves.


If we are spreading ourselves too thin and looking for that gold star, we are doing way more harm than good. It all comes back to that question of, are we trying to help them or are we trying to help ourselves not feel guilty?


Jennifer Maneely has spent the last eight years investing in leadership programs, self-awareness, and relationship with families through communication. Drawing on her experience as a leadership consultant, she uses an executive coaching approach to working with parents. She has dedicated her life and her business to not only addicts in need but also understanding and supporting the needs of the family members. Being a recovering addict herself, she is trained in what it takes for an addict to get their life back and has spent years teaching family members how to respond to the addicts to prevent the families from unintentionally supporting the addict in their self-sabotage and destructive patterns of behaviors. Want to stop supporting your loved one in their addiction? Set up a free strategy call



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Jennifer Maneely

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