img_3932This is part of a series of monthly posts that reference many conversations with Dr. MacAfee. Thanks, Doc. 

A friend, who also loved Dr. MacAfee, and I remember when he told us both that you get what you tolerate. She and I both respected Dr. MacAfee’s years of wisdom in working with addicts and, at different times, both of us had been the recipients of our sons’ disruptive behavior, lies, manipulations or deep hurts. Dr. Mac told us to stay close, but not to allow ourselves to be abused. “Whatever behavior you tolerate,” he counseled, “will continue.”

My reflection: As my son’s addiction took over his life, his lies, manipulation and downright bad behavior became more pervasive. With every low, I thought, “This is his bottom,” and I rushed in to save him from the consequences of his actions. The more chaos I allowed myself to be subjected to, the worse things got. 

Today’s Promise to consider: We parents of addicts are known to sacrifice our own well being as we tolerate the intolerable. Firm boundaries are imperative for both our loved ones and ourselves. The consequences of the addict’s behavior must be his to bear. We reach out in love and stay close, but we must keep ourselves safe.


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Pat Nichols
7 years ago

When you begin to attempt to disengage with addiction (your addicted child) you are overcomed with extreme feelings of guilt. How do you get over that guilt barrier? For me, I worked a 12 step program with a sponsor through Families Anonymous plus I had direct contact, when needed, with an alcohol/drug counselor and most importantly I drew closer to God who I eventually learned to trust through the guidance of His Spirit. None of us can do this alone, we all need support.

Pam basil
Pam basil
7 years ago

One of the most heart wrenching times in my life was trying to save my son’s life through his addiction. I believed that was what a good mother did. When I began to pray. ‘Let go let God ‘ I didn’t feel alone. My son had a Father who would protect him .