It is natural to be distressed if you are a parent watching your adult child make decisions that seem to be unwise. Further, it often seems to makes sense to feel that some action is urgently needed to change unhealthy behaviors. Particularly, with alcohol or drug addiction, it is tempting to think about an intervention. And we know that some interventions, if conducted by a skilled professional, can lead a person to agree to treatment.
However, setting up an intervention may yield disappointing results. We need to accept that more often than not, we are powerless over controlling other people.
With my clients, I try to help them to embrace the inevitable truth that they are often powerless over controlling their adult children’s decisions. I encourage them to accept the inevitable limits of a parent’s capacity to influence adult children. I suggest to my clients that it is only through closeness and connection that parents have influence. Criticizing adult children and aggressively confronting them with one’s own perspectives regarding how they should live their lives is at cross-purposes with the goal of maintaining an amicable relationship. And if you remain close, you ultimately may have more influence.
Having said that, as a family member, it is wise to state what you are observing (sticking to facts, not impressions) and then to offer support and resources. But if the loved one refuses that assistance, you need to work on acceptance of what you cannot control.