By Jenny Newberry
One of the most heart-wrenching challenges a mother can face as her children mature into adulthood is watching one of our sons or daughters grapple with the destructive powers of addiction and often the homelessness that comes with it. Our instinct is to jump into the pit with them and fight for them, but it is a battle we can’t win. Only God has the power to snatch them from Satan’s hand.
Addiction is a complex issue that stems from a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. It is a formidable weapon Satan uses to steal, kill, and destroy not only individuals but entire families. While poor life choices open the door for Satan and his demons, we are all sinners and are all in need of God’s mercy and grace. We have to shelter ourselves in the Biblical principles of compassion, forgiveness, love, and faith. We have to believe that with God nothing is impossible, but also be willing to accept His will, His way, and His timing which are perfect. If we expect that He is going to intervene in the way we wish, at a time of our choosing, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Who are we to tell God how to handle a situation? It took me a long time to come this realization in dealing with my own heartaches and concerns.
Use the Power of Prayer
Prayer is the cornerstone of Christian faith and provides us with a direct line of communication with our Heavenly Father. In moments of despair, we should turn to prayer as a source of strength, comfort, and guidance. Philippians 4: 6-7 (NIV) tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We don’t have to be worried and anxious to show our concern for our children, we can be at peace trusting that God can handle any problem they have in the way He chooses for He knows what is best.
We can renew our strength when faced with the challenges our child’s addictions bring into our lives by bringing our burdens to the Lord, seeking His guidance, and trusting His divine plan. We should surround ourselves with a network of friends, family, and fellow Christians who can join us in prayer, and support us in our faithful obedience to God’s direction.
Does this mean we are to stand by and do nothing, leaving our children to the consequences of their destructive behavior? Maybe, but in most cases that is not what trusting God in this situation means. Every situation is different and healing from addiction is most often a miraculous process, not an instant healing. Let God guide you daily and He will show you what is needed on your part for that day. Stop trying to read the last chapter to make sure there is a happy ending. If you are a Christian, eternity with God IS YOUR HAPPY ENDING and by being a Godly example, your children are more likely to follow your lead to salvation for themselves.
Cultivate Understanding and Empathy
We need to treat our children with compassion and empathy even when their addiction controls their behavior. It may be hard for us to separate their actions and behavior from who they are as a person, but that is exactly what God does for each of us, and He expects no less in our relationships with others. According to Psalm 139: 14, we are each fearfully and wonderfully made. Matthew 7: 1-2 (NIV) tells us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Instead of criticizing and blaming, try to understand what your child must be feeling, – the pain, fear, and hopelessness that is driving their addiction. We need to foster a relationship of trust and understanding if we hope to keep any line of communication open with our troubled child. We need to show that our love is unwavering even if we have to set boundaries and distance ourselves from their struggles. When someone is drowning, we are taught to give them a lifeline rather than being drug down with them.
Set Boundaries with Love
While we want to stay connected with our addicted children and reassure them that we love them and want to help, we must also be clear about our expectations. Setting healthy boundaries provides structure and protection for both our children and ourselves. Boundaries help us balance between showing love for children while also helping them accept accountability for their actions and maintaining our own health. We are no good to anyone, including our other loved ones, when we have depleted our own energies to the brink of despair. Have faith in God. Proverbs 22: 6 (NIV) tells us, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” Believe that the love and guidance you have poured into them their entire lives is not in vain.
Forgiveness is a requirement in Christianity, and it is especially significant in the context of addiction and homelessness. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) instructs us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time event but a continual process, requiring strength and reliance on your faith.
While relying on your Christian faith is essential, practical steps can also be taken to cope with the challenges of an adult child’s addiction and homelessness. Consider the following suggestions:
Establishing Open and Non-Judgmental Communication:
Fostering Trust and Understanding:
- We can create a safe space for open communication with our addicted adult children. Fostering trust and understanding is essential for establishing a connection that encourages honesty about the challenges they face.
- It’s crucial to avoid stigmatizing language or attitudes. Understanding that addiction is a complex health issue helps to create an atmosphere where addicted adult children feel comfortable seeking support.
Educating Yourself on Addiction and Homelessness:
Understanding the Challenges:
- We should educate ourselves about the challenges of addiction and homelessness. This includes understanding the mental health aspects, legal implications, and available resources for assistance.
Researching Local Services:
- Researching local services and organizations that provide support for individuals facing homelessness and addiction is vital. This knowledge equips us with information to guide our addicted adult children toward available help.
Encouraging Professional Assistance:
Connecting with Addiction Specialists:
- We can help our addicted adult children connect with addiction specialists or counselors who can provide professional guidance. These experts can assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Engaging with Homeless Outreach Services:
- Seeking assistance from homeless outreach services can provide practical support. These services often include access to shelters, food programs, and connections to resources that address homelessness.
Setting Healthy Boundaries:
Establishing Clear Boundaries:
- We should set clear and healthy boundaries to protect our own well-being. This may involve spelling out expectations and consequences related to financial assistance, housing, or emotional support.
Seeking Professional Advice on Boundaries:
- Consulting with professionals, such as counselors or support groups, can offer guidance on setting effective and compassionate boundaries. Understanding when to offer support and when to step back is essential.
Connecting with Support Networks:
Joining Support Groups:
- We can find comfort and guidance by joining support groups for families dealing with addiction and homelessness. These groups offer a space to share experiences, receive advice, and gain emotional support.
Networking with Local Resources:
- Connecting with local resources, community organizations, and other families facing similar challenges helps build a network of support. Shared experiences and insights can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of addiction and homelessness.
Exploring Housing Solutions:
Researching Temporary and Permanent Housing Options:
- We can explore temporary and permanent housing solutions for our addicted adult children. This may involve researching shelters, transitional housing programs, or government-supported housing initiatives.
Seeking Assistance from Housing Agencies:
- Seeking assistance from local housing agencies can provide guidance on available options. Some organizations offer support in finding stable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Encouraging Personal Development:
Supporting Education and Employment Opportunities:
- Encouraging addicted adult children to pursue education and employment opportunities can be transformative. Providing support in building skills and accessing training programs enhances their prospects for stability.
Fostering Personal Growth:
- We can support our addicted adult children in embracing personal growth. This may involve encouraging participation in therapy, self-help programs, or community activities that contribute to a sense of purpose.
Coping with an adult child’s addiction and homelessness is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging trials. However, as Christians, we have a source of strength and guidance that surpasses human understanding. Through prayer, scripture, and a commitment to love unconditionally, you can navigate this difficult journey with faith and resilience.
As you walk this path, lean on the promises of scripture, such as Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Trust that God has a plan for your child’s life, and through unwavering faith and love, you can be a beacon of hope and support on their journey to recovery.