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When the Toxic Person is Your Kid

Q: Dear Todd, I would love to know a way to find peace when the toxic individual is your 17 year old son. You are legally responsible for him; you still need to show him love. Yet you can’t stop him from using drugs; getting into trouble; hanging out with other antisocial individuals; refusing help; disrespecting you; or breaking all household rules. I’m sure there are more skilled parents who can achieve that. I have not been able to. All I have is: “You cannot remain here once you are 18.” 

Todd ANSWERS: First off, you are clearly a very concerned and devoted parent. These things happen despite doing absolutely everything for our children. We can’t change people unfortunately, but we can create the most supportive environment for that change to take place. Part of that involves letting go and realizing we can’t control others. Often, that grasping, forceful energy we place on others pushes them away. Create that loving, inviting space so they know they’ll be welcomed in your arms for help one day (soon hopefully). Realize that you can only do your best, everyone makes their own choices, and remember that as people grow older we tend to naturally grow up as well. 

So don’t lose faith, don’t lose your inner peace, stick to your convictions, and try to do so with love towards your child and yourself. It doesn’t mean we have to support it, condone it, or be happy about it. But we can accept it as simply the temporary truth of this moment, and there is peace in that acceptance. 

The universe is unfolding, with or without our consent. We can act in the world to bend it, shape it, and mold that unfolding. But we cannot fight it. We can work with it, but if we work against it we will only create our suffering and waste all our energy. When we flow with the universe, we act without attachment to a future outcome. We act upon our world but we do so with stillness in our heart. This is how we can impact the world without depression if we fail. We can work towards our goals, we can work incredibly hard and put in tremendous effort, but we don’t have to attach our present moment happiness to some future event. This is to flow. You, like the universe and like every flower on Earth, can allow your life to open and unfold effortlessly and with peace. It’s just the repeated practice of accepting this moment, and then letting it go.

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