As a mother, we are somehow conditioned to blame ourselves when one of our children fall off the straight and narrow or grow into unhappy and troubled young adults. We feel guilt that we did not do enough, somehow, somewhere did something "wrong" and should have did things differently.
Well, I have a confession. I do not feel guilty that I did something to cause my son's deep seated unhappiness, on the contrary, I feel great confusion because I thought I could not have done a better job than I did with him, especially during his first 5 years which I believed would be giving a strong foundation to grow on.
We played, we sang, we held hands, we kissed and cuddled, I applauded him on each and every achievement from pulling himself up to stand to getting 100% on his 1st spelling test in school. I never scolded him for crying or expression emotion, as some parents of boys sometimes do. I encouraged communication and honesty. We went to messy play groups, toy libraries, city farms, playgrounds, but also had lots of stimulating toys and books at home. My son was by my side when we cooked and baked and I let him join in. He put his toyed always and liked to help mommy clean. He ate a healthy diet and to this day he does not like fizzy sodas or sweets. He would be happy indoors or out and never complaining he was bored and would often tell me he loved me.
When he started reception class (kindergarten) he was eager to please and brought in his 1st piece of homework the day after they were handed out; only to be disillusioned by the teacher who told him he is not meant to bring in it the next day! The helpers on the playground were amused by my son's sense of right and wrong and they nick named him the "playground police" because he would show concern if other children were being "mean" or if they "swore" saying words such as stupid, because in our house hurtful words like stupid were not used and therefore my son thought stupid was a bad word. Perhaps he did not feel the home values were being reinforced at school and longed for praise from other adults as well?
My son made friends and played nicely, but of course as any child would sometimes have a naughty moment or two and these were usually dealt with by a time out in the corner as well as discussing the reason behind the time out.
Well, I have so many memories of those wonderful early years when my son was a happy little boy, but the point being that the happiness seemed to be there for a while longer but I also saw some sadness growing in my son's eyes. Was this because his sister was born when he was nearly 5? Was it because his father's involvement was decreasing and his impatience increasing? Was it because after the birth of his sister he started full time school and maybe felt he was being cast out? Was it because marriage difficulties and tensions at home increased? All the while my son and I still held hands, still loved each other, I still praised him, but now I was trying my best to give two children my love and attention.
At the age of 11/12 I think it was when my son took his 1st pill that he found at home...and I knew he was "high". I gently confronted him and he told me that he did take a pill. After that things seemed ok but by 13 it started with buying legal highs on line, then to cannabis, pills, alcohol, opiates, magic mushrooms.....by the age of 15 was addicted and permanently excluded from school. My wonderful, loving, intelligent, bright son had changed before my eyes and his life was taking a course that I would have never dreamed of.....How did this happen? I thought I did everything right????