Self Destructive Parent or Child? Dr. Molly Barrow Relationship Help

Do you have a parent or child who is self destructive? You know in your heart that they are headed for serious fall. Perhaps you have tried to intervene and your pleading has gone unheeded. How do you go on and cope with the fear of what seems to be an unstoppable destination? When do you try tough love and back away from your loved one?

These choices are so hurtful and sometimes even impossible decisions to make. No matter what you do, you may always wonder if you had only acted differently.... perhaps you might have more strongly influenced them to choose wellness and happiness. It is important to act from a strong base of caring and love. Test your motivation and be certain that you are not punishing or retaliating someone for a past injury.

In some cases, you absolutely have to chose between one family member's loss of control and another one's safety. You must choose to do what is right and moral to try to protect first and assist second. There are situations when a loved one's behavior is so toxic to other children or other family members that you must shun them and turn away from them to protect yourself or your family. However, have a limit to what you personally sacrifice and protect your family from systemic damage by one selfish, or mental ill individual. When you can no longer help the individual yourself without causing damage to yourself or other members of your family, this the time to call in social authorities, hospitals, police, social services or your place of worship to help you. Imagine it this way: If your family raft is already overloaded, especially with young dependents, you may sink the raft if you allow a toxic individual to cause more damage to everyone. You need a rescue boat.

An adult or child who has allowed themselves to become addicted to a substance like alcohol or drugs may not be able to stop now on their own. Sometimes through professional help, AA, Narc anon, an arrest or hospitalization is the only chance for them to regain a sliver of control. Although this is a huge and often financially exorbitant decision, many people have recovered from behavioral problems and substance abuse and now are leading fulfilling lives. Everyone is worth trying to save. But take action and make decisions to insist on a drug free, violence free, humiliation free home life and lead by example.

©2009, Molly Barrow

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Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the new book, Matchlines: A revolutionary New Way of looking at relationships and making the right choices in love. She is an authority on relationship and psychological topics, a member of the American Psychological Association and a licensed mental health counselor. Dr. Molly has appeared as an expert on NBC, PBS, KTLA, and in O Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsday,,, Women's Health and Women's World. Please visit: or Take the new relationship compatibility test, Match Lines Systems for Successful Relationships for Singles, Couples and Business at Molly has a radio program, Your Relationship Answers at

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