Author: Charles Rubin
Title: Don't Let Your Kids Kill You
Plot: How to navigate life as the parent of drug addicts
Note: Many useful tips are given regarding parenting techniques useful in deterring drug addiction. This book is fantastic!
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Today I will be reviewing “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You” by Charles Rubin. It is a reasonably sized 200 page book that should be in every home in America. And don’t just buy the book, read it! It’s an important read!
It was a fantastic, incredibly eye opening book! When it comes to identifying and understanding that you are dealing with a drug addict and where and why you should draw the line, I can’t imagine there’s a better resource.
I would have given this book the coveted sixth star, but his ending flopped a little. After his great ending he made a chapter entitled Epilogue and then he added a part 2 of the book with three chapters in that, and that kind of ended nowhere. Therefore, I give this book five stars and I encourage everyone listening to this podcast to get yourself a copy and read it cover to cover.
Charles was born in New York City and is a Marine Corps Veteran. Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about him apart from the fact that he had two sons who were drug addicts and he was faced with many hard choices in life. It is obvious he loved those boys. And he clearly spent much time in counseling including Tough Love, Alcoholics Anonymous and interviewing and counseling parents of other drug addicts.
As I said, I don’t have kids, but because I have been generous with money in my hometown I have attracted my share of drug users. I didn’t know they were drug users until I read this book. And having read it, it is now obvious how and why they tortured me and how I fell for it.
Ultimately, after a significant amount of personal torture, I lashed out and ended up doing the things he prescribed in his book to resolve the situation. And so I can attest that his advice works. But that said, I understand why it would be far more difficult to take his advice and use it on your own kids because it seems kind of harsh even though it’s necessary. And that’s why I would warn those who want to have kids to read the book first.
He makes some really intriguing comments. For example: It didn’t use to be common for men to go into the delivery room with their wives when they had babies. Years ago, they often waited outside pacing frantically smoking a cigarette and only entered the room after the baby was born. But now men go to La Mas with their wives and later watch the baby actually emerge when it’s born. He said that creates a stronger bond between the father and child and it might actually make it more difficult for dad to perform his job.
It seems reasonable that when a dad bonds with the child in a way that is similar to mom, it might trigger a more maternal response. One that could span a lifetime and might conceivably backfire.
Let’s face it, when it comes to parenting you do need good cop and bad cop. Having two good cops might backfire. And so while I wouldn’t pretend to tell you what to do when your child is born, I would suggest you do think about it before you do what everyone else does.
He opened each chapter with a case study where he reviewed a couple and described their situation with their child. He used those studies to frame the overall message of the book advancing that message in every chapter.
He is a gifted writer who had a strong opening, and filled his book with so much wisdom that my copy is underlined everywhere.
It became clear while reading this book that it’s very important to eliminate all your expectations for your children and allow them to be who they want to be. Avoid attempts at controlling them, anticipating their future, or making decisions for them and especially taking responsibility for the outcomes of the decisions that they make.
He confessed that whenever his kids had a boo boo, he swung in to save the day. And thus he inadvertently developed the expectation from them that they were immune to all laws, rules and regulations because daddy would always be there to save them. Or bail them out of trouble.
Toward the end of the book he mentioned the word codependency and when he defined it, I agreed with his definition. But I felt like he left out a crucial point. There is a scenario he missed where the parent gets their sense of significance from being a savior. And one could easily see that said parent might subconsciously foster the conditions that not only create this drug user, but keep them enslaved to it. So if I get my significance from saving you, then the more often you need saving, the better I feel about myself. Even though I do feel really bad for you.
He may have intentionally left that dynamic out because the focus of his book was on parents who were not to blame for the decisions their kids made.
People who inappropriately took ownership for the lives that their kids messed up themselves.
He commented that his natural inclination was to see his sons standing before him and remember them as they were as young boys questioning where he went wrong and what he could do to fix it now.
He was waiting for the miracle of them reverting back to the innocent children they once were rather than accepting the reality of the horror they had become. Those are my words not his. I am summarizing the long list of trouble and damage they caused him, I’m summarizing all of that up into the word horror.
If I were to oversimplify the message of his book it would be to tell parents to get the addicts out of their house, cut them off, let them go, and take their lives back themselves. You don’t take abuse from others so don’t let your kids abuse you either.
And really this is an act of mercy because the kids will continue to misbehave until the day they must face the consequences of their actions themselves. As soon as they understand the connection between action and consequence, they stop misbehaving.
At some point Charles realized he wasn’t living his own life, he was living the lives of his sons, instead.
He had no hopes and dreams of his own. He lived in fear of the phone call that his kids were dead or in serious trouble. And of course that unleashed incredible amounts of stress on his life. The kind that impacted his health.
I can attest that there are people in this world who kill you slowly. They have the power to turn you into a monster, if you let them. If you don’t set boundaries and remain firm and resilient, they will happily destroy your life for the sake of 10 or 20 bucks a day. And when you cut them off, even if it’s because you’re out of money, instead of saying thanks they will call you names and threaten you with violence. I've seen it happen.
As I said, Whenever his kids had a boo boo, he swung in to save the day, and he inadvertently developed the expectation that they were immune to laws, rules and regulations.
He said, “It became impossible to communicate with my boys. They’d vacated their bodies the way someone might leave an old house. Also abandoned was everything warm, unique, friendly and familiar about them. Taking up residence now were predatory and ill-natured personifications of drugs and alcohol.” Meaning after years of abuse instead of seeing his sons, he saw Heroin and LSD standing before him. And that enabled him to detach himself from his parental inclinations turning him into a more effective father figure.
Charles commented that addicts often threaten to kill themselves, but I would argue that they are doing that already by taking drugs.
In many ways this book boils down to boundaries and either being a man or having a backbone. Though it might seem like you are being a man by bailing your kids out of trouble. You are in fact being a bigger man by risking the love and relationship with your children and stepping out of the way and trusting God to save them from themselves.
When you face losing all of your friends, you reputation is besmirched and your child is airing all of your dirty laundry for the whole world to hear, stand firm in your conviction that you will not give them money or access to your resources demanding they must free themselves from their addictions first, if they want any kind of relationship with you at all.
And it would be best if you have this conversation with your kids before they take drugs so they know what’s at stake.
And though it's not fun, it is necessary to cut people off who overstep, violate your boundaries and try to extort or take advantage of you. It requires massive amounts of strength and it is entirely worth it! If you have friends like this in your life, you want new friends. Make sure you replace the bad friends with good friends and just move on with your life.
Make sure you tell your kids It’s not a one time thing. If they take drugs, you cut them off and you will leave them to twist in the wind alone. You have to be absolutely certain you're going to do this. You have to believe it in your mind, say it with your lips and follow through with your actions. That is crucial! If you develop a tendency to say one thing and then back out and relent later. They will just take advantage of you and walk over you harder next time. He says that very clearly in his book throughout his book. You must be as committed to them stopping drugs as they are to getting off them. If you relent, they relent. It becomes a pattern. If you want them to have the strength not to return to drugs, then you must have the strength not to enable them anymore. The minute they see you crack, they crack. You have to be strong.
If they get themselves into trouble, then they get themselves out. You can tell your kid until you’re blue in the face that sticking his finger in a candle flame hurts, but let him do it once and he gets the message. For every action there is a consequence, and it is not your job to save your kid from consequences. It is your job to deliver hard news, make the difficult calls, and lead. And you do that by example, not by multiplying words or backing out of commitments that you yourself made. We look to our parents for strength and therefore as parents we should embody and model the strength we need our kids to have in saying no and putting and end to the addiction.
I didn’t even scratch the surface of what this book talks about. Every page is a good read. Get the book, read the book and do what the book says.
Once again I gave it five stars. Great job, Charles.
And as always, thank you for listening. It would seem that the world of book readers has shrunk and the only ones still reading are modern day geniuses. So have a brilliant week. And y'all come back now, ya here?
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