Julie Myerson recently published a book which seems to have stirred up quite a controversy. The book, The Lost Child, is the story of her concern for her eldest son Jake’s cannabis smoking which resulted in her ejecting him from her family home when he was 17. At 20 now, Jake is still smoking cannabis and Julie is crying herself to sleep at least once every couple of weeks, as she discusses in this article in The Times.
Sadly this is a common outcome for “Tough Love”. All too often when people adopt this approach, they are already so frustrated, angered, confused and afraid of the behavior they are trying to confront, that they seem to do a complete flip flop in their approach, switching from “enabling” the behaviour to completely cutting the individual out of their lives. In this instance Julie admits in the article in the Times that she had “contemplated rehab but “agreed that he was so far from admitting he had a problem that he would just say, ‘F*** off,’ and leave””
One of my specialties is to help families in such situations undergo a process known as Intervention. Here we can guide the family to be able to confront the behaviour but we do this in a way so as to keep the door open and the communication flowing. This example that Julie and Jake have gone through is very similar to one that I went through with my parents. They had been extremely concerned with my drug taking behaviour when I was 17 too. Like Jake, and I too chose to leave home and sleep on couches and rent places rather than stop my behaviour. I really don’t think it needed to be like this. It was only a long while later, when dialogue was resumed, that I accepted their offers of help.
I wish Julie and my parents had sought more professional help, or did some more research into what was possible before jumping into action. Of course both Jake and I might still have walked out, but through better communication and planning we might both have sought to resolve these issues much sooner.