Should I check up on my loved one’s activities?
In Alanon, we clearly learn that it is unhealthy and completely inappropriate to check up on a loved one. Since checking up on a loved one to see if their texting, emails, drawers, receipts, etc., may reveal addictive behaviors can become an obsessive part of a parent or spouse’s live, we are taught that it is unhealthy for us to do so and ultimately will just encourage them to go deeper in their hiding behaviors.
But, is this an absolute? and if not, when might it be appropriate, and even preferred, that a parent or spouse do so?
Here are some examples of appropriate checking up:
1. The information falls into your lap. example: you are on the computer and suddenly, a message pops up (or an email is left open or some other ‘private’ communication hits you in the face) that makes it clear that your loved one is engaged in unhealthy behaviors
2. your loved one is a minor – in that case, there is no privacy – you have every right and obligation to check drawers, cupboards, pockets, email accounts, etc., at any time to make sure there is no use of illegal drugs, no gambling, no acting out that would indicate destructive behavior.
3. You are footing the bill or supporting a loved one’s recovery in some powerful way, such as providing food and shelter or actually paying for treatment, therapies, etc. and they are in early recovery and still vulnerable
In any of these cases, it is important to be self aware.
- If you are handed or find information, share it with your loved one’s professionals, and, if appropriate, with your loved one directly in a BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror) conversation. In this case, you are simply being an advocate for their recovery and protecting your own investment.
- On the other hand, if you find yourself obsessing about what they are doing, and compulsively checking up on them over and over again, this has become an unhealthy behavior for you that you will want to discuss and work through with your BALM® coach, your therapist, and/or your Alanon sponsor.
.In BALM® recovery we talk about the two pronged approach to family recovery:
- getting YOUR life back
- helping your loved one get THEIR life back.
The first part you do through building self awareness and keeping your focus on your own recovery.
The second you do through powerful BALM® conversations, often called mini-interventions, to encourage your loved one to get help and then once they are getting help, by partnering with the professionals your loved one is working with to advocate for your loved one to pursue and sustain their recovery.
Sometimes you WILL come across and find information about a loved one’s behaviors that concerns you. When that happens, speak with a BALM® professional to deal with your own recovery and with your loved one’s therapist, coach, or counselor to decide what to do with the information itself.
Often, the therapist, counselor, or coach will have a way of speaking with your loved one that will allow them to open up about the behavior and grow into the next stage of their recovery.
If there is no professional your loved one is working with, you and your BALM® coach will work together on a plan for a powerful BALM® conversation if appropriate – OR, this could be the information needed to help you feel ready to bring in an Interventionist to bring things to a head and get your loved one the help they need.
As you find professionals to work with your loved one, let them do their job, with your support and any information you have that could help them, and continue to practice BALM® to grow in your own recovery and recovery advocacy skills!
Be A Loving Mirror!
Beverly A. Buncher, MA, PCC, MRLC, CTPC
Family Recovery Coach/CEO
Family Recovery Resources, LLC
786 859 4050