Worrying about young adult childrean

Hi Brooke.

I joined Scholars in September and really love how the model is already helping me take massive action on the business side of things. Thank you so much!!

I am struggling with the model on the emotional side related to the thoughts I am having about my two adult children. I experience really strong worries about where my 19 year old daughter and 22 year old son are headed. I try to repress these thoughts, but they often rise up and make it hard for me to sleep or concentrate on other things. So I have been trying to work on models to change these thought patterns. But I keep getting stuck.

Both my kids have ADD and separately express a lot of concern about their futures. They both self medicate with dope.

My daughter suffers diagnosed anxiety and depression. In June, she validated my intense worries by admitting that she had considered suicide in March while she was away at university. I have spent the last few (4 or 5) years trying to get her the help she needs. She has always asked me to do this, but each time when she meets with the medical specialists, or alternative specialists, she deems them “not useful” and won’t go back. She doesn’t like talking to therapists because she has “nothing to say”. Medications are not working. She is brilliant but is struggling at university (dropping out of classes and failing). She starts off with high marks, but when the anxiety kicks in, she keeps rewriting her assignments and won’t hand them in and when she is depressed, she stops going to school. She only got 2 credits last year. This year, the problems have already begun and she is not even getting the starting out good marks. She refuses to take time off from university, which I have been trying to encourage her to do. She says that she is “already behind” and says “her whole future depends on succeeding at school this year”. On her visits home, I see her spend all her time on her cell, watching Netflix, out drinking with her friend (buffering), and worrying about her courses, but not studying. She gets angry when I suggest a break from university to get herself together and accuses me of “not believing in her” and says that I am “always trying to discourage” her and she doesn’t understand why I am trying to “make her not go to university”. I’ve even offered to pay for half a year of global travel if she takes time off. (She loves to travel more than anything.)

My son is equally lost. He lost 2 years of high school because his dope smoking was so intense that it affected his ability to function and he stopped going to school. When he was 16, my ex and I sent him for 10 months to one of the best rehab programs in the US and we took turns flying 5 hours every weekend to attend parent therapy sessions and visit him so he would feel supported and not abandoned. He was diagnosed there with severe ADD and executive functioning problems. Although he feels we should not have sent him, he also often refers to the skills and tools he learned and once referred to his time there as “one of his life’s best experiences.” He fell back into smoking dope on his return, but the amount was much less, and he ultimately managed to graduate from a high school here and get into university. However, when he went to university, he couldn’t follow the lessons at all (perhaps due to his executive functioning issues) and dropped out immediately. He has been working since then part-time in a maintenance job and has spent his spare time playing video games and smoking dope. This has gone on for 3 years. He now plans to go back to university next year, but has no idea what he wants to do or how he will cope with classes differently than before. He talks about a variety of actions he will do, but literally has not done one of them and I don’t see how anything would be different if he goes back. He used to be a voracious reader but never reads now and struggles when he does, maybe because he is out of practice. He buys books to read, but doesn’t read them

I have spent the past 6 years offering every type of assistance I can think of to help them out, usually at their request. Nothing has stuck.

I have an underlying feeling of overwhelming fear about both my kids that is pretty intense and painful. I can successfully divert my thoughts during the daytime and am usually very productive in moving my own dreams forward, but at night I suffer from worry about my kids, related insomia and an urgent feeling that I “need to save them.”

My daughter is returning to university today after a long weekend her without having completed any homework and reports feeling very anxious. My son called in sick to work this morning after nipping out to smoke dope early this morning.

I try not to let my worries about their lives overwhelm me, as I can see how my worry accomplishes nothing. So here is my attempt today to use the model:

C Kids over for dinner last night, both expressing anxiety and lack of hope, dope smoking twice last night and again this morning, no actions being taken to move forward. Their thought processes seem dulled by the dope.
T. They are both ruining their lives. I’m their mother and I need to save them. I’m out of options. They need to take action. They can’t spend all their time smoking dope and watching Netflix.
F. Anger, despair, worry, fear
A. Spend time worrying during the day and especially at night; suggest to my daughter that she takes time off from university; my voice tone and body language communicates my negative judgments to them
R. Daughter blames me for being discouraging; son withdraws from me and is uncommunicative. Neither takes action to fix their problems. Both continue to express feelings of anxiety and pessimism.

Model 2
C Kids and their expressed struggles, dope smoking last night and this morning
T ???

Here’s where I get stuck. I can think of all kinds of thoughts I “should” say to get to the right result. eg. “It’s their business not my business.” (But, I feel like it IS a mother’s business to help her kids when they have psychological problems and are in distress.) eg. 2. “I love them exactly the way they are and don’t need them to change.” (But, I do love them the way they are AND I do need them to change because I need them to be safe. I feel this is a valid concern after my daughter’s confession about having been suicidal last year.)

Any ideas about laddering thoughts? I realize that I need to change my thoughts to change my feelings, but my thoughts need to feel believable for this to work. I note that Byron Katie’s The Work questions don’t help me here because I can’t gather evidence that feels believable to me for the turnarounds. My guess is that there are laddering thoughts under your model that could move me gradually towards healthier and more productive thoughts.

Thanks much!!!