7 Ways to Stop Worrying and Find Peace When Your Child is Struggling

by Cahty Hull Taughinbaugh


Some people and events are difficult to deal with, but they can only stress us if we let them. Breathe in calm, breathe out chaos, and anchor yourself in peace. ~ Lori Deschene 

You are only as happy as your unhappiest child, or so they say.

When your child struggles with substance use, you most likely feel frustration, anger, resentment, as well as deep sadness.

Even a beautiful day can be bittersweet for those parents who are concerned about their child. Some kids are in the midst of their use; some are in treatment, some are in early recovery.

Any of these scenarios can be worrisome for family members, especially parents.

Our brains are trained to look for the negative, to be aware of anything that can bring harm. As substance use enters the family door, so often all you see is negativity.

Your child’s substance use may feel overwhelming, which makes it hard for you to be calm.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can live and enjoy the present. You can learn to be happier as you help yourself and your child change.

Participating in the negative cycle of substance use does not help and can often prolong the problem. Words are often said that everyone regrets, which leaves family members feeling worse.

By having forgiveness for the past, appreciation for the present and hope for the future, peace can find its way back into your life.

Here are seven ways to help you let go of worry and find a calmer tomorrow:

Say goodbye to resentment and anger

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us. When you have bad feelings and anger, you are unable to help your child. The past may have been painful, but it is gone now.

It is time to create a better tomorrow. Take time to work through your feelings. It will give you a chance to forgive, let go of negativity and embrace all that is going well.

When you do, you will find room to open your heart, so that your future is brighter and filled with love as well as possibility.

Look for the good

While it can sometimes feel that your life is full of negativity because of a loved one’s substance use, look for anything your child is doing well. Look for it, acknowledge, and reward it when possible.

It may feel like this is something you shouldn’t have to do, yet studies show that reinforcement can be a way to motivate your child to want to change. You will feel more positive yourself about life. Things will look brighter.

Practice being calm, cool and collected

Sometimes you have to “fake it until you make it.” When you smile often, it will help you feel happier. Think good thoughts. Enjoy memories of past family celebrations, yet live for today.

Even those dealing with tremendous obstacles are often still able to be present, grateful, and calm. You may be struggling, and that is understandable. When you put the time and effort into bringing peace and joy into your life, you and those close to you will feel better.

Talk to your loved ones in a positive way

Ask your child questions using words such as what or how. Listen to what they have to say. Appreciate what they have accomplished even if it is baby steps. Ask permission before you share your concerns or give information. They will be more open to hearing what you have to say.

Try not to go on and on. That is an easy way for ears to plug up. Your child will not hear or digest your message. If you realize that your child is not receptive, stop and consider a better time to talk to him or her.

Do something enjoyable for yourself

You will feel better, be able to make wiser decisions and model healthy behavior for your child when you enjoy life. Remember to fill your bucket regularly. Don’t try to drive down the road on empty.

You are entitled to an enjoyable day, not just today, but every day. Make time for yourself. Don’t be your own worst enemy, be your best friend instead. You are worth it, so take some time for self-care.

Distract yourself from worrying

Worrying doesn’t solve any problems. It just creates a unhealthier you. Find things to distract your mind. Set a time each day for worrying and then stop and think about something else.

Snap a rubber band on your hand or find some other way to remind yourself to get back to thinking about the present, rather than worrying about the future. When you realize your mind is wandering to those dark places, take a deep breath and come back to the present. If everything is okay at this moment, be content with that.

Accept what is

It is understandable to wish things were different. You are not alone with those feelings. However, family substance use is not your fault.

Keep positive feelings flowing and know there is hope for your child. When you face the reality of your situation, the process of finding solutions becomes real. Possibilities for healing begin to be more clear.

You can start the journey of moving forward to a better tomorrow. You don’t have to be as happy as your unhappiest child. You can be as joyful as you allow yourself to be.