Fill Your Own Cup First

Cathy Taughinbaugh
3 min readDec 6, 2022

When you are trying to help your child change.

A mother and son sitting together.
Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

For us to feel compassion for our children, we can’t be running on empty. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed blocks us from developing an understanding of ourselves and our children. When we’re stressed out, we aren’t calm or peaceful. We feel insecure, we distance ourselves from others, and we may lack the capacity for joy.

Substance use disorders affect your child — and in addition, other family members feel the negative impact of the problem. You may have problems arise due to your child’s substance use, including financial, health, work productivity, and relationship issues. You may also experience more stress and depression and feel overall less happy about your life. It’s hard to stay focused and balanced when you are continually worried about your child.

Substance use is a painful problem. While it’s natural to want the pain to go away — especially since substance use can take a while to correct itself — know that you can help your child while also feeling pain at the same time. When you do things to support yourself and stay resilient, you will feel less overwhelmed. Later in the book, I’ll go into more detail about self-care.

What I have found when working with parents is that as they changed the way the approached the problem, their children started to be more open, less defensive, and less confrontational. Changing the conversation can be transformational not only to your child but to you as well. It starts with self-care and self-awareness. It may seem like a small tweak, yet when you come at the problem with understanding and compassion, it can lead to a big change.

Often people in recovery report that family influenced their decision to enter treatment or to get some other kind of help. You, as a parent, can encourage your child to live a healthier lifestyle. You can motivate your child to let go of or lessen their use of drugs or alcohol.

Parents of substance users are stressed, anxious, and filled with fear, often because of the chaos they are experiencing. The strategies in the CRAFT approach are the opposite of drama. The lack of drama is what can change your families’ lives for the better.

There is no quick fix when it comes to substance use. You may not get it right the first time. Yet it is worth it to keep trying. Look for those windows of opportunity. You will feel better and see a positive difference in your loved one. CRAFT gives parents and families tools that they can use themselves. It helps communication within the family and makes for a better future for all involved.

[This post is an excerpt from The Compassion Antidote. You can learn more about the book here!]

The Compassion Antidote: Image property of author
Cathy Taughinbaugh

Parent Coach and Author of The Compassion Antidote: A Path to Change for You and Your Child Struggling with Substance Use. Learn more: