What are you (and every other parent) addicted to? Your child, of course, and the dreams you have before you even hold that baby in your arms. Those dreams have the power to derail your natural parenting instincts. But remember... you are always at choice! In any moment, you have the power to choose a new way of being, speaking and doing, and to influence your children for good.

I am a recovering parent. I had a vision of how life would be, an ideal image of my children's bright future. I was addicted to my children and to their happiness and success. Things are looking pretty good now, but there were bumps, hills, even mountains along the way. There were times of fear and despair.

We all face those times. It's what you do during those times that can impact the outcomes, for better or for worse. Here are some things I learned on my ongoing journey from addiction to recovery as a parent:

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* I couldn't prevent bad things from happening to my kids, but I could walk them through the tough times.

* My children's behavior was just as much about me as it was about them.  

* Caring and good intentions aren't enough. Sometimes they are the problem.

* Nothing was going to change until I did. After all, they learned a lot just from watching me.

* I couldn't fix everything for them. When I stepped back, they had no choice but to handle it themselves (and learn just how capable they are!).

* When my hopes and dreams for them conflicted with reality, I had to stop wringing my hands, stay focused, and take action on the issue at hand.

* No boundary was better than a boundary I didn't enforce, or they learned there are no real consequences.

They needed consequences to understand that they are responsible for their words and actions and their impact on others.

* My dreams for them weren't always what was best for them. They had to find their own way, and discover their unique potential.

* My emotional responses (usually based in fear) were not helpful. They were a distraction.

* I learned to stay on topic and not allow them to distract me from the real issue.

* Nagging and lecturing resulted in more of the same behaviors I didn't want to see.

* Listening more and saying less earned their trust, improved our relationship, and helped me get my message across.

* I didn't always 'walk the talk' and they knew it. I had to expect as much from myself as I did from them.

* Giving them boundaries was more important than feeling loved by them.

* Sharing my challenges inspired them to take productive risks.

* THE ONLY THING I CAN CONTROL IS ME, and how I respond to life.

Remember that you are always at choice. Are you choosing to deal with the child you want, or the child you have? The life you want or the life you have? There are times when you have to put aside what you want. Think about it. Break your addiction to the dream and be the parent your child needs.