Giving Good Advice

I have three kids, and the good advice seems to pour forth some days like a leaky faucet. Some days my children willingly acquiesce, but other days, there’s resistance. This resistance usually comes from the fact that what they want to do is in direct opposition of what my good advice is saying, and what the ego wants…the ego fights for.

I’m in Target with my youngest, my 8 year old, who is insistent that she be allowed to use her money to buy a ridiculous toy that *I* know will be broken and discarded within 24 hours.

I try reasoning with her: “Remember, you just said the other day you were wanting to save your money for that American Girl dress…”

She remains stubbornly resolute: “But I’ve also been wanting this since (fictitious date here, since she’s never mentioned this toy before 5 minutes ago).”

Me, still trying trying to be a cautious adviser and the voice of financial wisdom: “But remember the last toy like this? It was cheaply made and broke the next day. See all those pieces? They are flimsy and toys like this aren’t made to last very long.”

Her, now with mouth set firm and looking so like her father in his rebellious days: “This is my money. I saved it, and I brought it to the store, so I would like to buy this now.”

I still could have said no. I could have continued to offer my sound advice, or cut her short and made her leave the store empty handed, but any learning would have certainly been halted not just for that day, but for considerably longer as she stewed in the overdramatic unfairness of it all. I’m well aware of the limits to her ability to hold a grudge, she did have a point about it being her money to spend, and this was a “safe” way to let her fly solo. After all, when the toy broke by nightfall as predicted, the only thing lost was a few dollars she’d earned doing small chores.

When she grudgingly admitted I might have been right about the toy being cheap and lamented the fact that she was now a few more dollars away from her original goal of the dress, I knew I didn’t have to offer any more advice just then. She had seen it for herself, and it would be a lesson that stuck harder and faster than anything I could have said in the moment in the middle of Target. As hard as it is to sometimes sit back and watch people make mistakes that you know with absolute certainty are not going to turn out well, you also know that there are certain times when no amount of well-intentioned words  from you are going to stop them or help them make the right choice.

My example is tiny, just a few dollars lost. But what about the families that see this over and over again with their loved ones, when the stakes are much, much higher, as is the case with addiction? They agonize over the fact that they can see clearly that someone they love is going down a path where the price is steep, maybe even too steep to pay. They try again and again, pleading, trying to “knock some sense” into them, having heart to hearts, researching other words to use when the ones they already know have failed. For them, it can be a miserable period of trying and failing, especially if they see or hear about “so-and-so who finally came to his senses and changed his ways”. They know their loved one isn’t too dumb to comprehend what they are saying. They may even realize that the person they are trying to save is also trying to save themselves.

To those people, we say this:

Don’t lose hope. Sometimes amazing advice has come at the wrong time, and at some point, the same refrain will suddenly be the key the unlocks the chains of addiction. Sometimes it is coming from the wrong direction, and the noise of the world has muffled the voice of wisdom for them—but those winds can always change. Sometimes it is coming from the wrong person; you are so close to them that they can’t hear anything through their idea of you, your history together, and the same words coming from a new face can be all the difference. Sometimes they just aren’t ready, the seeds of wisdom planted around them aren’t ready to bloom until it’s the right time for them, whenever that may be.

No matter how bleak life may sometimes seem when you’re watching someone you love struggle against their addiction, there is always hope because there is always a chance that one day may be the day the winds change, the key fits, or a new face steps in. Centered Recovery believes that everyone has the capacity to live a healthy, fulfilling life, and are happy to be a new face in the community of north Atlanta, at the right time, one who just might be heard.

Call 800-556-2966 to find out if Centered Recovery is right for you.