Book Preview

When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart:
Coping With Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and the Problems That Tear Families Apart

A Preview of the Book

Parenting is an undertaking fraught with uncertainty, but most parents start out with high hopes. They look forward to academic excellence, sports games, a mutually rewarding relationship with their child, and maybe even a loving relationship with grandchildren. For too many parents, though, their dreams for their children never come to fruition. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that a shocking 41 percent of young adults are arrested prior to their 23rd birthdays. Mental illness continues to be a national epidemic, with 26 percent of adults being diagnosed with at least one mental health condition, and 23 million Americans facing substance dependence. When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart: Coping With Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and the Problems that Tear Families Aparthelps parents navigate the confusing landscape of dashed expectations and ongoing disappointments.

Caring for Yourself
When you've dedicated years of your life to caring for a child, it's easy to feel obligated to step in and rescue your child at every turn. But adult children with serious behavioral problems can interfere with their parents' careers, undermine family financial security, and even injure their parents. You can't care for your child if you don't care for yourself, and the book outlines coping strategies for weathering the storms created by a troubled child. Parents will learn:

  • How their emotional and behavioral reactions affect their child
  • How to navigate the landscape of grief created by a troubled child
  • How to cope with disappointments and crushed dreams
  • What they can reasonably expect for the future, and how to measure and understand their children's troubling behavior
  • Tips for maintaining relationships with family and friends, and how a troubled child can wreak havoc in these relationships.

Caring for Your Child
Caretaking is built into the definition of parenting, but normal parenting strategies frequently don't work with troubled children. While a typical child will respond well to dedicated affection and caregiving, children struggling with addictions may take advantage of this love. Children with mental illness can't be loved out of their disorder, and children who have committed criminal acts may steal from their parents or even try to embroil parents in their criminal behavior. When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart helps parents understand:

  • Why a child is troubled and why bad behavior isn't always the parent's fault
  • The types of problems troubled children and their weary parents face throughout the life course
  • How to cope with threats, violence, suicidal ideation and similar terrifying circumstances
  • How to get the expert help your child needs
  • How to modify your own behavior to avoid rewarding bad behavior and enabling addictions
  • Why troubled children often become bad parents, and how grandparents can protect their grandchildren from abusive caregivers
  • How to cope with a troubled adult child who lives with you

Getting Expert Help
Parents of troubled children are often thrust into an unfamiliar world, filled with experts, jargon, and diagnoses. Whether you're paying for your child to get help or just want to understand what constitutes an appropriate plan of action, the book can help you. Readers can get information on:

  • Navigating the legal system, choosing an attorney, and why paying for an attorney isn't always the best strategy.
  • The types of mental health disorders, their prognosis, and appropriate treatments
  • Why children engage in criminal behavior, and why criminality sometimes signals a mental health condition
  • Warning signs of drug abuse, mental illness, and criminal behavior
  • How to find the right treatment provider for your child, and whether and when to become involved in or pay for treatment

Establishing Boundaries
When children commit terrible acts, their parents may feel guilty, and society as a whole tends to blame parents for their children's behavior. But children, and not their parents, are ultimately the responsible parties. Just like any other adult, your child has a choice about how to behave. When children bring chaos and destruction to their parent's lives, parents have to find ways to protect themselves. Parents will learn when to walk away and when to beef up their system of protection and boundaries. The book covers topics such as:

  • Why it's not always bad parenting to cut off or minimize contact with your child
  • Why boundaries benefit both you and your child
  • How to keep yourself safe and sane if your child lives with you, and when to kick your child out
  • When to cut off financial support, and how to decide whether to pay for legal or psychological services
  • Manipulation tactics troubled children use with their parents
  • Options for protecting grandchildren and other innocent third parties
  • Coping with the grief of a disrupted or ended relationship with your child

When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart is scheduled for release on December 3, 2013, and major book retailers such as Amazon are now accepting pre-orders.

Brame, R., Ph.D., Turner, M., Ph.D., Paternoster, R., Ph.D., &Bushway, S., Ph.D. (2011). Cumulative presence of arrest from ages 8 to 23 in a national sample. Pediatrics.doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3710

The numbers count: Mental disorders in America. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved November 7, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml

The science of addiction: Drugs, brains, and behavior. (2007). NIH Medline Plus. Retrieved November 7, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring07/articles/spring07pg14-17.html