Several months ago, author Christine Adamec (a fellow American Society and Journalists Association member) contacted me because she was hoping I could put her in contact with parents of adult children with heartbreaking issues. She wanted to interview them for a book she was cowriting: When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart: Coping with Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and the Problems That Tear Families Apart.
I posted her request for interviews on WTOParentsOfBPs, a listserv that is part of my Welcome to Oz family member community. Many list members took her up on her offer and spoke to her about the challenges of parenting an adult child with borderline personality disorder.
I’m happy to report that the book will be out in December and has already received a positive review from Publisher’s Weekly—a real coup! I’ve summed up the reviews below.
“My son is now twenty-eight years old. On many occasions he has been very physically abusive to me.... Doctors have diagnosed my son with depression and borderline personality disorder; he also has a problem with drugs.”
With this anecdote, psychiatrist Joel Young, the medical director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine and a specialist in working with the mentally ill and their families, begins a moving and vitally important book on mental illness and parenting. The book's other writer is Christine Adamec, who has written many books on similar topics.
Behind nearly every adult who is accused of a crime, becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who is severely mentally ill and acting out in public, there is usually at least one extremely stressed-out parent. This parent may initially react with the bad news of their adult child behaving badly with, "Oh no!" followed by, "How can I help to fix this?"
A very common reaction is the thought, "Where did I go wrong--was it something I said or did, or that I failed to do when my child was growing up that caused these issues? Is this really somehow all my fault?"
These parents then open their homes, their pocketbooks, their hearts, and their futures to "saving" their adult child--who may go on to leave them financially and emotionally broken. Sometimes these families also raise the children their adult children leave behind: 1.6 million grandparents in the U.S. are in this situation.
This well-organized and helpful book includes sections discussing the difficult situations that parents face if the adult child is living at home, and incisive guides to dealing with manipulative behaviors. Later chapters address the disorders that cause difficult behaviors, as well as the symptoms of those disorders, from child neglect and abuse to suicide.
The final section encourages parents to take care of themselves first: managing sleep and health; dealing with unhelpful comments from friends; and knowing when it’s time to walk away. The book offers practical advice, stories, and resources—and, perhaps most importantly, comfort for any parent facing one of the biggest parenting challenges.