Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Nation of Coaches or Blamers

We are a nation of Monday morning quarterbacks, Oprah's, Rush Limbaugh's and a bunch of other people who like to give advice, play coach, counselor or judge.

Wow- that's a pretty heavy sentence for me to drop on a blog about parenting and triathlon.

I was on a flight on Monday with a dad who's 16 year old daughter had gotten into Meth.  They sent her through three programs totaling over a year at $225 per day (for you that don't enjoy math that is over $82,000).  His daughter came home right before her 18th birthday and went back to her former lifestyle.  He and his were called one night to a local hospital because someone had found their daughter lying in the street unconscious.  They drove the the hospital expecting the worst. 

After three days their daughter woke up from a coma and hasn't touched drugs again.  That was 7 years ago.  He is so happy that his daughter is alive and doing well, married and finishing college.  Amazing story of a fathers love and patience. 

Yet as our plane started to land he told me that he felt a great deal of guilt and blame.  I asked for more specifics since I work with at-risk teens and parents for my job and I'm personally interested.  He told me a bunch of things about the fact that the other kids in the family never struggled, his wife and him have always worked hard on building a strong marriage and family.  They are active in a local church, they didn't have drama in their lives.  Didn't spoil the kids and also didn't break their spirits.  They worked hard as parents and still the daughter took a very dangerous turn and this father feels a bunch of blame.

I asked him how the story could have ended if he and his wife hadn't been as strong and committed to their daughter.  He looked at me a bit, let out a sigh, and said, "I'm so glad to have her back". 

This dad felt judged the whole time his daughter was acting crazy and destructive.  He felt like a failure the whole time they were scraping up $82,000 on a middle income salary.  He felt ashamed when she went back to drugs.  While he learned better ways to support his daughter during the years of pain, he shouldn't hang his head low, he stepped up the plate and did his best. 

I have a lot to learn about how I can support struggling families and help them understand that strength doesn't come from blame.  Ignoring the blame is hard but I think as triathletes we learn which voice helps us when things get tough and which voice makes us sleep when the alarm goes off at 5:00 AM.

Best of luck to all the parents out there.  I'm pulling for you.

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