Monday, July 27, 2009


I think the word "bad" is overused when it comes to people with addictions or mental illness, which Kelsey had in addition to her eating disorder, and which Marissa also struggles with. I did it myself in an earlier post. In my original draft, I used the term "Bad Parenting" when really I don't mean to imply that anyone is in and of themselves bad or intends to do bad things. I was a little surprised at myself actually, because we were the victim of that term so often. I had Bad Kids. I was a Bad Parent because I had Bad Kids. We led a Bad Lifestyle because I worked outside the home, or were not socially conservative, or because I listened to radical music (I like Rush. A lot. Deal with it), so that's why my kids were Bad. We got hit with it all, sometimes from very close to home. It was hurtful. And it wasn't true. But it slips out - it's the word your brain goes to naturally. Sometimes it's the politest thing we were called by certain individuals. And sometimes it's the right word for certain things. Drugs are Bad. Eating disorders are Bad. Addictive behavior is destructive, which is a Bad Thing. All true. What is not true is that people with addictions are Bad People. Some are. Some completely sober people are too. But, one of the first things I learned was that there was a lot of Bad Behavior going on in Kelsey's peer group, but not that many Bad Kids. As a matter of fact, in all my time as the parent of two very young women with multiple issues, I can only tell you of one individual who, when I looked into his eyes, thought I saw true evil there. There are a small handful of others for whom I don't believe {but pray that I am wrong} there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For them, there is something more fundamentally wrong in the deep recesses of their psyche than all the rehab, counseling and concerned parenting in the world can reach. But, for the vast majority of young men and women I met, they were okay young people who had fallen down a rabbit hole on their search to alleviate some void or pain in their life. Sometimes I would meet them when they were still happily wallowing around in whatever behavior they had chosen and weren't ready to try and change it. But, given that I met most of them at one form of treatment program or another, a lot of them were at least aware of their situation. Some were more sincere in their efforts than others, and some were so far down that rabbit's hole that climbing out of it was a lot more work. However, whatever stage they were in, it was easy enough to see the decent person lurking under the cloak of their addiction. Often you could see the fear and worry in their eyes. They would mask it if they thought you were looking, but it was there in those unguarded moments when they glanced out a window or listened to another person tell his or her story. The same was true for those parents I met in those programs. Some were a little more advanced in their efforts, but everybody was at least aware that there was something that needed to be addressed and willing to address it. The parents I generally hold in disdain are the ones I never saw in a treatment program or bumped into at a counselor's office. They were the ones who thought that if they simply rid their child of all the Bad Influences (aka, other addicts) in their lives, everything would be okay. Actually, making new associations and ridding oneself of old ones is part of the process, but only part of it. So, again, I do stand by my statement that those adolescents were more or less left to their own devices to figure their way out of that hole. A lot of them will somehow make it through to adulthood, eventually grow weary of how they spent their teenage years and sober themselves up, but others won't. I went to a few of their funerals. But, those parents love their children just as much as the ones I met in treatment do, and they believe they are doing the right thing. I therefore regret the original use of Bad Parenting. I have since changed it. I guess President Obama and I have something in common: we make the occasional gaff.

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