Kids often make very bad choices and do things that are not very smart, especially teen age boys. This is most definitely the case with my son and he often makes choices that leave me scratching my head for understanding, or just down right angry.
I wish I could say he is the only one making bad choices but that would not be true. I don’t always do the right thing or make the best choices, and definitely NOT when it came to drinking. So, maybe I am really not acting any better than he is? Maybe I am not showing up in a way that is supportive enough for him to feel loved or strong enough to say no to stupid decisions.
It is so easy to say things like, “why would you think that was a good idea?” or “why didn’t you say no I am not doing that?” or “stand up for yourself when you know better!”, but maybe as a parent who drank I should be asking myself the same questions. I knew better, I knew it is not a good idea to drink too much, and I had to learn to stand up to myself or to others and say no to a drink or drinking too much. I knew I should not be drinking so much in front of my kids or around them like I did for years. I knew I was not fully present when they needed me most so how can I say to my son, “make better decisions!” or “think before you do the next wrong thing!”
When and how did I realize two wrongs don’t make a right?
The scenario where it really hit home for me was when I was drunk and got a call from the police to come get my son. My son made a bad choice with some friends on this particular Friday night, the what he did, is not really important, but the state I was in was not good either. Another red flag I was drinking too much, and my son needed me and I was in no shape or a state of mind to help or support him.
We get a phone call that he and his friends are being held by the police and we need to come and get him. Well, that was the first part of the problem, second part of the problem was me! There was no way I could drive, I had been drinking and thank God I had enough wits about me to know I could not drive myself there to pick him up. So, in the Lyft we go and pick him up. When I get there I am frustrated, annoyed and embarrassed because I am not really in any shape to have a conversation with the police. All in all, there was not a big incident, but my tone and manner with the police on the scene was harsh, short and clipped, which was probably not required. Why was I that way? Well, short answer is two wrongs don’t make a right. 1) I should not have been that intoxicated 2) I was totally ashamed and embarrassed about the fact that I was drunk and should have been in a better state of mind, sober enough to help my son which led me to you usual reactive state of defensive and angry. So my tone was clipped, I became angry with myself, my son and the fact I was not present enough for the situation or to handle it with grace.
Every time I reflect on that night I am still embarrassed and angry with myself. Now, you might be saying it was not a big deal. It was a Friday night and you were relaxing at home and had a few drinks that is nothing to feel bad about. But the reality is that if something bad had happened to my son or the other boys he was with I would have been in no condition to support or comfort him. How would it have looked if I showed up at a police station drunk? Or the hospital drunk? That is the story on repeat in my head. I can’t imagine how my son would have felt if I would have had to retrieve him from the police station with all the other parents and I was drunk! Or if I had to come to the hospital if he got injured or one of his friends would have been injured, I would not have been able to comfort him or care for him in the way a mother is supposed. I can only imagine how the other parents would have reacted toward me and where the blame would have fallen in the mix of the kids and who was responsible? My drunk state would have definitely focused blame toward my son and his home life and role models.
So, believe me when I say two wrongs don’t make a right, and sometimes they can end with two very bad “wrongs” which creates an even bigger mess. These moments of inebriation and being checked out pile up for me like empty bottles in a garbage can and I am trying to figure out the equation for two rights = love and support. I know always being sober is one of the right things for sure.