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"Dysfunctional Families, Validating Their Children"
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
Many longterm-sober (over 10 years each) people in recovery have related to me that they were ready and able to finally "right" their relationships with their adult children when they did this one thing: They sat with them, or called them on the phone, long-distance, and for many, many, many nights.... over many, many, many months, they listened...... without defensiveness and without off-putting tones in their voices ....... to the outpourings of the pain that their children had suffered.
And even when the children were sounding "petty" and "trivial".... like when they cried that you paid more attention to a sister and you think that this is silly to complain about (compared to all the "big stuff" that adults remember) ...... they realized that their children had been fighting for your full affectionate attention -- which was probably often scarce and it hurt so much to want it so much and not get it so often .....
The truly-recovering alcoholics wanted to completely validate their children and they wanted their children to know that they wanted that for them ..... so they did not grow weary and indignant and angry toward their children.
They finally really began to understand the constant emotional pain that their children had lived under -- day after day -- month after month -- year after year-- often in the form of stomachs, bad grades in school, headaches, wrenching crying, begging parents to be with them every minute, offering saved-up allowances to help pay bills, being "funny" all the time to make this family laugh..... crying by themselves quietly so no one hears.
The truly-recovering alcoholics began to realize that this listening took but a little bit of time, compared to the suffering of their own children.
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