Failing Motherhood

[REPLAY] Boundaries with Parents with Jamie Cooper

December 05, 2023 Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids Episode 133
Failing Motherhood
[REPLAY] Boundaries with Parents with Jamie Cooper
Show Notes Transcript

Originally aired: October 13, 2020 (Ep. 26)

"You want your parents to be involved in your child's life, but at what cost?"

Both of Jamie's parents are alcoholics and are still in a gut-wrenching divorce that's been going on for years.  She has been working daily to break the chain of trauma, and what once crippled her has made her so much stronger.

"It was a scary thing to realize that this is no longer something that only affects me.  This affects my kids.  I have to ensure my kids are safe."

Disappointment.  Lies.  Heartbreak.  Guilt.  Grief.

If you've ever been stuck trying to navigate boundaries with your extended family, this episode is for you.  Get ready to take notes from Jamie's example.

Support the show

*FREE* MASTERCLASS: Learn how to CONFIDENTLY parent your strong-willed child WITHOUT threats, bribes or giving in altogether so you can BREAK FREE of power struggles + guilt
www.parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic

www.parentingwholeheartedly.com

Jamie Cooper  0:00  
I got a text message picture from a friend of my son. And she goes, Look who I'm with. And I'm like, what? Where are you? And my, my mom had taken him to go see my friend's dad at a pool. And in driving in and she was not allowed to drive with my child. And I got there and I said, Where are you and I show up and she's there drinking. And this is where she got into rehab. She drank and drove with my child. I was livid.

Danielle Bettmann  0:31  
Ever feel like you suck at this job. Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety. Not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here. 

Danielle Bettmann  1:44  
Hey, it's Danielle. I can't wait to dive into today's episode. But before we do, I want to make sure you notice an exciting update. There will be many episodes out on Thursdays now. So Tuesday's or main interview style. And then Thursday's will be a short topical talk with just me diving deep into one reason contributing to our feeling of failure and how to face it. These are going to be so fun and actionable. So if you hadn't refreshed the feed until today, go back and do not miss the episode I shared last Thursday called how to change the world. I poured my heart into this little soapbox episode, and I really want you to be on board for the mission. I share my story more about wholeheartedly and how we can work together to create a better world for our kids to adult in. Let's face it until I can spend four hours trying to figure out how to do an Instagram reel, podcasts are going to be my happy place. So plan on meeting me back here each Thursday. 

Danielle Bettmann  2:47  
My guest today is Jamie Cooper. I'm so grateful for her willingness to be so upfront, honest and open about a delicate area of mom life boundaries with grandparents. If you've ever struggled with feeling guilty by laying down a boundary for your family amidst extended family, this episode is for you. Even more. So if you're navigating divorced parents, and even more so, if you have alcoholism in your family. I hope it leaves you encouraged and empowered. Let's get to it. 

Danielle Bettmann  3:21  
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann and on today's episode I'm joined by Jamie Cooper. Jamie has her Bachelor's in child and adolescent development from Point Loma Nazarene University that she finished while pregnant with both her littles her husband is a firefighter and they were both born and raised in San Diego. She taught preschool until she had her youngest and is now a stay at home mom. And she's here today to share more of her story of what her home life looks like and how she relates to that idea of failing motherhood. So welcome, Jamie.

Jamie Cooper  3:53  
Hello. Thanks for having me.

Danielle Bettmann  3:55  
I'm so excited that you're willing to share your story with us today because originally we connected on Instagram. Yes, right. Yes.

Jamie Cooper  4:03  
Yeah. Desperately reaching out for help.

Danielle Bettmann  4:09  
Because motherhood is hard. Yeah, absolutely. So tell us about your family. Who do you have at home?

Jamie Cooper  4:16  
So my husband Corey, I have Gavin my youngest or my oldest, who is three and a half. And Maddie who it will be one on July 5? Ah, happy birthday. Yes.

Danielle Bettmann  4:29  
That's so fun. Yep. We

Jamie Cooper  4:30  
also have a guesthouse where my 86 year old grandmother lives. So we're one big happy compound over here.

Danielle Bettmann  4:41  
And so has COVID made that scarier for you? Or how are you handling that with her?

Jamie Cooper  4:48  
Yeah, I had to lock her in. Basically, she's a very independent, young at heart. 86 year old so she was very confused and very upset. Why HomeGoods closed, and TJ Maxx and Marshalls and so we had to sit her down. You know, my husband being a firefighter paramedic, we had to sit her down and really like explain the severity of the situation and that she needed to be safe and not leave. And if she needed things, we went out and got him for her. And you know, as things calmed down a little bit, she's been going out more. She made a really nice friend and they go garden and her garden in her yard. So that gets her out. So it's really nice for that. But yeah, at first it was like, was very, very scary, very overwhelming. And for everyone, you know, my husband would come home to the garage, strip down, go take a shower before he touched the kids that hi to anyone. Yeah, so it was it was pretty intense for a while, but things are starting to calm down. And in California here a little bit. So it's good.

Danielle Bettmann  5:49  
Yeah, yeah, the every all of the unknowns. And all of the just craziness that we're living through right now is added challenges on top of the day to day normal. Yes,

Jamie Cooper  6:00  
and schools being closed, and parks being closed, and the outlets are no longer there. And the kids are climbing the walls,

Danielle Bettmann  6:09  
literally. So No pressure, just not at all. It's fine. So have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?

Jamie Cooper  6:22  
Every every day, every day, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. And I had in my mind, this mom that I was going to be. And then reality hits. And your kid is not the kid that used to babysit when you were 16 years old. And we, my both my children were very, very strong willed, and very, very smart, like smart to the point where it is scary. And they challenge me every day. And the amount of Chick fil A we eat probably isn't good. But you know what, it's we balance it out, and we make it work. And every day I go to bed and I just think about the ways that I could have done better and wake up the next morning and just try to do better. That's all I can do. And and I know that I'm doing good job because of that. So,

Danielle Bettmann  7:15  
yes, good. I'm glad that you have that truth that you remind yourself of every day, did you feel like you had more pressure to perform with the degree that you have? Absolutely.

Jamie Cooper  7:27  
My husband when we first had our first he was like, Well, this is yours. You're the expert, what do we do here and, and I feel as though I did know, a lot like, you know, birth through a year 18 months, it was a piece of cake, just, you know, like their immediate needs and challenging them and their age appropriate ways. But now that this three and a half year old stage, and the little, tiny, manipulated manipulation that we have going on with him is is pretty intense. And I'm constantly seeking advice and help. And I know, I know what's supposed to happen. I know what we're supposed to do. But but that doesn't happen. And then, and then you're you know, you say, Oh, well, when this happens, you're supposed to respond X, Y and Z. And then you respond to XY and Z and you don't get the results and you're overwhelmed and and then you just spiral and then your day is just this big giant mess. And you have to take a step back and reel it in. And my husband is still constantly looking at me for answers. But I'm now looking at him for answers. And we're bouncing ideas off each other and really trying to work together to figure out what works best for us. Because our dynamic is so different. You know, I am I am the caretaker at 90% of the time, because he's gone for 24 hour shifts, sometimes up to three days at a time. So that represents you know, presents a whole challenge in itself is when I'm the main caretaker he comes home, the kids challenge both of us and tend to challenge me way more, because I'm the one who's always there. But so it's hard because you know, he comes home and well what am i What are we you know, what's, what's the program? What do we do? And it's changing, it's ever changing. So, right? Like one day something works the next day and not so much. So, yes, you're back to the drawing board. Yep, absolutely. But having you know, having the background having the degree, it was so beneficial. I do want to do more with that eventually. So it was kind of like the baseline for my future career goals. But yeah, the pressure was there and oh, you know what you're doing you've got goals. Sometimes Great.

Danielle Bettmann  9:43  
Whatever the textbook said did not cover whatever my kid just did. Absolutely.

Jamie Cooper  9:47  
I can't read it. I can't rush through it real quick. Let me pull up my my, my essays and look through, right yeah.

Danielle Bettmann  9:57  
And I feel like the kids in a In a classroom setting that aren't yours, or is a totally different dynamic in the relationship than it is, when you're with your own kids. 24/7 100

Jamie Cooper  10:12  
Yes, they, they challenge you, they know, they know what buttons to push, they know what they can get away with. But you know, these children that you teach, and they respect to you, as a teacher, they respect you as an adult, an adult, a figure that is not their parents that they know that they can push around and, and they know what they can get away with, you know, there are set rules and classrooms, there's, there's routine, and kids thrive off of that. But then once you get home, routines don't always go well. And they don't always go right, especially when you add another baby into the mix, and then it just, it just turns into the controls lost. Whereas in a classroom, there's there's much more control and kids love that. And they thrive off of it as much as they probably don't, you know, act like it, they do. And it's good for them. They really, really thrive off of it. And so being a teacher is much easier than being a mom.

Danielle Bettmann  11:10  
Yeah, so don't feel like we need to normalize that idea. Because not only do us teachers that become moms have complexes, but we also look to the teachers that are classed in our kids as classrooms when they say, Oh, we never see that behavior. And, you know, they're just so wonderful. And you know, with me, and as his parents go, I'm sorry, what? Because that's not what I'm seeing at home. And we're like, clearly the problem is me. And that's not always true. They're just a totally different person with us.

Jamie Cooper  11:41  
Yeah. And then the frustration comes in, because your life will why? Why? Why was me, the person that loves you most in the whole world? Why? Why are you doing this to me?

Danielle Bettmann  11:54  
Seriously, yeah, and we're supposed to take it as a compliment, because they're the most comfortable and safe with us. And we have that secure attachment. It's a very good thing. But it really sucks.

Jamie Cooper  12:06  
Totally, it took but I've always said as being a teacher and being a mom, I would rather have my kid come home, and challenge me all night, every day, until the end of time, and go to school, and really be able to respect and do what's asked of him and be kind to the other kids, because I'm okay, I love him unconditionally. And I will always be there for him. And I will always be the one that can deal with the challenges. But that teacher, that's not their kid that's not their flesh and blood. So please go there and give them an easy time. Save the hard time for me.

Danielle Bettmann  12:50  
Yes, that is a really good perspective to have. Because we do really want them to thrive and succeed in those environments that are created for them, that we're paying people for,

Jamie Cooper  13:02  
in the end that they're not getting paid very much for. So

Danielle Bettmann  13:07  
another huge problem we can go off. Yes, exactly.

Jamie Cooper  13:10  
We can all start a whole new episode just on that. Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann  13:14  
the childcare industry problems. Another episode another episode. So I do feel like there still is the question of, well, if they can turn it on at school, they should be able to act like that at home, and why can't they? And we need to, you know, get on them for that level of respect and obedience and you know, first time compliance, and how do you feel about that, like do have that impression at home?

Jamie Cooper  13:46  
Yeah, in the thing is, is that I know it'll get there, I know that things will get easier, the nother set of challenges will get different and change and be harder, but the compliance will get there. And there's also such a fine line between wanting your child to be constantly compliance and having them have a sense of strong sense of self and independence, because you don't ever want to filter smother that, that fire inside your child. And I think it's really hard to find that fine line of No, you can't hit your sister in the head. But I understand that you were very passionate about what you were doing and then you're upset that she knocked it over. So there's, there's just, there's certain things that yes, you can't you know, you cannot do that. But I understand why. And let's try to figure out how we can better express ourselves and better express our frustrations. In you know, kids, you don't want them to just become a rule follower. You know, we want to raise this next generation of kids that are going to break through the mold and really challenge things and really challenge, maybe old ways that are the way that things are done that shouldn't be done that way anymore. And we really want to make them be the next generation of rule changes for the better good. And if we're raising children that are constantly doing what we're told what they're told all the time, they will become just a follower. And we don't want that we want to raise leaders. And so if there's there's such a hard Where did where do you go? Where do you start? How do you do this correctly? There's no right answer. And that's, that's the hardest part is about parenting. There's no rulebook, there's no right answer. And we just have to navigate it day by day. Second, by second.

Danielle Bettmann  15:43  
Yes, yes. Because we make those jokes about like, well, they're either going to be the President of the United States or the president of the jail, because, you know, we'll see where this leadership bossiness takes them. But the the more that we can trust our kids and see the good in their strengths and believe that they have so much potential to lead if we cultivate those strengths in a way that really, you know, influences that for the good, then yeah, they're going to be great. They're going to be amazing citizens that are kind and you know, all the things we want them to be to their fellow brothers and sisters. But yeah, it all definitely starts young. And it is really hard to walk that line of I can't let you do this. But how do I help you solve this problem? Together with me and find a better way? You know? Yeah, so that was a whole tangent.

Jamie Cooper  16:44  
Good tangent. But, yeah.

Danielle Bettmann  16:48  
But I want to hear more of your story, in your navigating your relationship with your parents, because that's kind of specifically how we connected and you reached out with the added challenges of not just parenting your kids, but having to really advocate for their safety in some ways, and in learning and growing yourself. So where did that start? Tell me more about your, your parents and all that.

Jamie Cooper  17:17  
So both my parents are alcoholics. About eight years ago, they separated. And about five years ago, they got divorced. But the divorce isn't final, it's still kind of one of those things that is or it is final, but the legal battle is still going on. So there's a ton of turmoil. And they are both alcoholics. And both their alcoholism has kind of come to a head within the past 10 years, eight years. My dad went to rehab probably eight or seven years ago, seven or eight years ago. And he did great for a really long time. And then not so great. And the ebbs and flows of addiction are just very, very prevalent with with both my parents as they are with almost every addict. And so then my mom went to rehab about two years ago in September, and alcoholism, in the challenges that it's it's faced with me and my kids is just creating healthy, healthy boundaries between letting my kids be affected by this. And where to go, like, where do I go? What boundaries do I set, my dad and mom have always drank socially, probably maybe a little too much when I was younger, but recently just went kind of blew up. So my dad has always been a drinker, his alcoholism and his rehab stint was kind of forced upon by my mom during their separation. And then, and then it didn't really work. It didn't go well. The sobriety didn't last and the divorce kind of came through and my dad has been on and off drinking. And my dad is my dad is the alcoholic that will admit when he's drinking, you will ask him straight up and he will tell you and he feels so guilty about it feel so like sad, but but he will just drink. Like he will just drink. And there was one time when I went picked him up from my mom's house. He was when they were separated. He was doing some painting for her and they weren't living together. And I called him because I was over for dinner at my grandma's and I was like, where are you? And I called him and he was very intoxicated. So I had to drive and go pick him up at my mom's house who wasn't home and bring him home because he was so drunk if he was going to drive it was not going to be good. And you know, at that point is when I realized like I am not a child. I'm not their child anymore. I am an adult child that I'm alcoholic and essentially I I have parents who are in parenting. And I was like this is a weird, weird. It's a weird situation and it was weird to kind of be accustomed to Fast Forward, I had my own children. And I always had the back of my head the alcoholism. And it's not, you don't know when they're going to be drinking. My mom, her alcoholism was a little bit more hidden. I think that she was drinking so much that I had just become there was just her normal. And I didn't really realize it. You know, a lot of people told me, you know, he was drinking. No, that's just how she is. That's just a ton of excuses. And she would watch my oldest. And they actually had a really good, great relationship. And she would come over all the time when I would go to work and even just go do something and she would watch them, they would go for walks and, and you know, the drinking kind of kicked up. But she was never driving with him. She was never allowed to take him in the car, which I already set that boundary very early. And we were on a walk one day in the stroller, and we were at the little corner store, the liquor store getting Sam's popsicles, and my mom used to walk there with them and get them popsicles and get them snacks, and whatever, and go on the walk. And we're at the level of the counter. And in the counter is a bunch of mini bottles of alcohol. And he's probably like almost two, and he's talking at this point, like talking pretty well. And he points at the liquor bottles and says nanny, because that's what he called him up. So nanny nanny do that. And I was like, what, buddy, and he points the right to the liquor bottles and goes a nanny nanny do that. And I was like, Oh, my, what? And I was in like, shock. My jaw dropped to the floor. I walked home, I call my sister immediately, and was like, You're never gonna guess what Gavin did. And she was like, Oh, my gosh, called my husband called my grandma, the one that lives with us who's my mom's mom. And she was like, Oh, honey, that's not good. So that's when we kind of started the process of being like, Okay, you need, you need to get some help. Like, this is not, this is not good. So she agreed. She went got help. And then about two days or three days, maybe a week, after she got out of rehab. She wanted to spend some time with Kevin's I said, Absolutely. And my husband and I hadn't been out. So we went out and got dinner, and she had him and, and then I got a text message picture from a friend of my son. And she goes, Look who I'm with. And I'm like, what, where are you? And my, my mom had taken him to go see my friend's dad at a pool. And in driving in and she was not allowed to drive with my child. And I got there and I said, Where are you and I show up and she's there drinking. And this is rare, because you got to rehab. She drank and drove with my child. I was livid, livid. And so I got my I picked up my son, I put I put him in my husband's car, and then I got her and I was like, This is it, you're done. You can not be with him at all. Like you we can I can you have put his life in danger. And that is unacceptable. And I know that my mom to this day, still like regrets that like will never forgive herself for what she's done. And I forgive her, but I I do not forget. So therefore the boundaries that are set with my parents that they're not allowed to be with my children alone. If they do want to have them over to their house, or they want to come here, their significant other has to be with them. So that there is, you know, some sort of buffer and some sort of safe space because I do trust both of my parents significant others immensely. And I think they're both great people. So I, I trust them. But it's scary. And it was a scary thing to realize that okay, this is no longer something that just affects me. And this is this is something that affects my kids, I have to make sure my kids are safe. And from then it has just become an uphill battle of trust and consistent disappointments that don't stop and lies, a lot of lies. No covering up drinking, covering up reasons for drinking erratic behavior, outbursts, moralize, and it just it's just challenging to try to figure out how to give your kids a great relationship with their grandparents without fracturing it completely. Because you want them to have that and you want your parents to be involved in your children's life. But at what cost?

Danielle Bettmann  24:36  
Right. Because I'm sure it's even harder for you. Having had good memories of your parents growing up, that you remember that and you want that for your kids. And that's not existing.

Jamie Cooper  24:52  
That is something I say to my husband all the time is, I remember the best of times I had a fantastic childhood. And my parents were both great parents. And I knew that they would be great grandparents and they are fantastic grandparents. But addiction is something that comes above all else. Unfortunately, the alcohol is more important than a lot of other things in their life. And addicts will say, No, it's not, no, it's not but but the choices that they make, and the actions that they that they prove that they do prove different. And, you know, I'm, as an adult child, like, I'm no longer obligated to follow their instructions, instructions and tolerate their, like unacceptable behavior. And it's hard, like, how do you keep your boundaries without standing up to your parents and feeling like a complete jerk, or not feeling guilty, because like, I do feel guilty, like, I want more than anything. And my parents have fantastic, trustworthy, healthy, loving, beautiful relationships with my children. But unfortunately, at this time, in their addiction, and their, their, their hatred and angst towards each other through this divorce, and this, and this, you know, this legal process that's going on, that's not possible. It's just a constant battle.

Danielle Bettmann  26:27  
There's so much aspects of that, that you have to grieve through, like, you know, all the stages of grief of not only your relationship with them and what you had, but your kids, his relationship with them, and all of the disappointment and having hope and love for them still, but needing to detach for your own safety for your own sanity. And you're feeling misunderstood when you have to draw a boundary that makes you feel like a jerk. Like there's so many levels of heart to that.

Jamie Cooper  26:59  
Yeah, absolutely. And in the guilt that comes along with, you know, trying to protect your kids, which is the number one thing that you need to do in your life is protect your children, the guilt that I feel is, is overwhelming. And it's crazy that that is like that's my challenge. As a mom, I have to protect my kids, not only their physical well being but their, like emotional well being as well. And, you know, being a codependent, you know, try and try to not be a codependent and not make excuses for them, and have these strict and healthy boundaries and put my feelings first, and my family first, and not taking responsibility for all their actions is challenging. And, you know, having some sort of like self care, and really having that grass of taking care of myself and my family. And realizing, and getting over the fact that that does not mean I'm selfish. mm is challenging. And it's challenging for a lot of people to understand. It's challenging for my parents to understand it's challenging for my parents friends to understand why we you know, when they, they see my, my in laws with the kids all the time, but my parents aren't with them. It you know, you don't you only see what's on the surface. Right? So it's hard. But it's, it's become a really, really, like, momentous thing for me, too. A monumental thing for me to really grasp that taking care of myself and my family does not mean I'm a jerk. And does not mean I'm I'm just taking care of my tribe.

Danielle Bettmann  28:43  
Yeah. So how did you come to that conclusion? How did you grow, to be able to embrace that?

Jamie Cooper  28:50  
I have no idea. I think that it was just, there's so many straws, and then one just breaks the camel's back. And you realize that you're trying to give chances after chance after chance. And you're making excuse after excuse after excuse. And you have to take a step back and realize this is not going to change. So my number one thing that I need to do is to take care of my own and take care of myself because of my mental state and my mental health does not align, none of my children's will be none of my feelings will be an AI will be worthless. So I need to take care of myself before I take care of anyone else. And so that's form of self care for me, whether it be you know, not answering the phone in the evening when I know someone's been drinking or not, you know, digging into the mind games and the manipulation and the and the arguments and the fights that ensue. Like just not even participating in it. Just shutting it down. makes things so much better. And it makes me able to take care of me to where I can take care of my kids. And once I started doing that, that's when it made me realize that I'm not mad, I'm just doing my best. I'm not selfish, I don't hate my parents, I love them. And I think this shows more love than anything, because I love them so much, because I'm not willing to get into it with them. Because I want to just keep things as copacetic as possible. And just move forward at the best to the best that we can until another slip up or another disappointment hits, and then the boundaries, you know, the boundaries come back into play, because they're always there. But it's, it's challenging every day. It's an everyday challenge. So yeah,

Danielle Bettmann  30:50  
how often do you talk to them? And what are those conversations? Like? Like, do they give you a hard time? Do they make you feel guilty? For the boundaries you put up?

Jamie Cooper  31:02  
Yes. And, you know, the boundaries are kind of explained this. I've never sat them down. and been like, these are my boundaries, but they know. So. So they understand. And my mom, my mom doesn't live here. And so I talked to her. Occasionally, she, we call but we don't get into anything too deep. She wants to FaceTime with the kids, and that's great. You know, but then sometimes things start to spiral and she starts talking about my dad and his girlfriend and, and then then the anger starts in the in that it just spiral and then it's okay, I got I gotta go, I can't talk about this. Like, I've asked you not to talk to me about this a million times and, and then, you know, you hang up and don't talk to them for a week because it just became this huge blow up. So there's, there's a fine line between how much you can really talk talk to and about. So conversations with us are very shallow. There's not a ton of depth to them. Same with my dad, but my dad lives here. So it's a lot easier. I feel like I when I see him, you know, I see him more he drives by the house. And we we talk and it the other day was the first time actually and my son is almost is three and a half, it was the first time that he got to go over there in spend some time for a few hours, probably about four hours. And my dad's girlfriend is there. And my grandma was there. He's 93 and my grandma's roommate who's one of my brother's friends. So there was you know, it was it was like a group group effort. But it it might, my son had a blast, he had so much fun still talks about it to this day, my dad got to do things with him that we used to do as kids. And I love that, like love that that made my heart so happy. That made me really just appreciate what could be. And all I can do is like hope that things can stay the way that they are. With My Mom, it's much more challenging. My mom has autoimmune disease. And so she's really she's sick. So sure her drinking with the sickness is just not good. And she doesn't she was in Arizona. So I don't see her. I talk to her as much as I can. But I don't see her. My mom and I used to be super close. But our relationship now has become somewhat of just my kids. Where my dad and I we've always been close because we my dad and I love him but our relationship. You know, it's different. As long as your relationship with your mom and a daughter is we were so close. And so I grieve, I definitely grieve the relationship with my mom a lot. It's challenging, but it's something that has to be done. And I feel like since I have not put up with the drinking, I have put up these boundaries to where I have to take care of myself and not answer the phone. I've been much happier. My kids have been like I'm able to function much, much better. There's a it's hard because you see the text message. You see the phone call and you feel guilty not answering you feel guilty, you know, not not replying back right away. But when you take a step back and realize like, what do you want to get into it? Is it worth it? It's not

Danielle Bettmann  34:35  
Hey, friends, just checking in. How are you holding up? I mean, there's only a global ...
[out of date advertisement] 
 Okay, back to the show. 

Danielle Bettmann  36:37  
Yeah, I know one of the things that's easy to struggle with, as a codependent is what is loving, because you still see the person that they were and can be and are under the alcoholism, and you have so much hope for that person and love for that person that the way that you want to treat them wants to be respectful to who that person really is. And so I know that for me, what I struggled with is, how do I show this person, I still love them, while also looking out for my sanity and my safety in a way that needs to be a priority. And it's very hard to kind of navigate that line. Because it's different for probably every situation and relationship of like, what do the boundaries need to be what do the conversations need to look like? How blatant how often you know, like, there's no exact rubric or formula for that. And so, because it's so ambiguous, it can be a very deep hole to sink into of, you know, just being overcome with that overwhelm or that guilt. And what I learned by someone else pouring into me some insight was that the most loving thing I could do is to let them experience the consequences of you know, living life on life's terms, and not getting in the way good or bad, you know, like enabling or excusing or, you know, causing more harm, but just like being as hands off as possible is the most loving thing I could do. And that was hard to embrace. Yeah, but have you seen the good from that play out?

Jamie Cooper  38:25  
Yeah, I think that in a lot of cases, when there is a relapse or an outburst or an argument or a blow up of any kind, I have been able to be much better about ending it, not talking. And then you know, a week to whatever comes around and in things are calm, you have a clear head. They have a clear head hopefully. And, you know, one thing that I have really tried to embrace is not rehashing stuff. Because sometimes when it comes to the alcoholism, and the anger and the manipulation and outbursts is they don't remember it. You don't remember what they said. They don't remember what they did. And so rehashing it is just like reliving it, it's going to bring up some traumas and, and it's it doesn't make any sense. So the only thing I can do is remember my boundaries, keep them in place. And, and try my best to just love them and, and just have some grace try to have as much grace as possible with them because I don't have that problem. I don't have that addiction. So I don't know what they're going through. I have no idea. But just to love them, and to really try to stop and end it and come back to it in a few weeks or a couple days or whatever. Don't continue. The texting wars the guilt trips. everything because it's it's just, it's just a mind game in it, and it can really throw you off for the rest of the day the rest of the week. So I've really tried to just when things happen and relapses happen, and we just you just dependent, just don't talk about it. Yeah. Yeah. Like the other day I came home from I was working in my mother in law store, and my mother in law had had my kids and my dad's car was here. And I was, I was like, what is what is he doing here? And I guess he had gone back to talk to my grandma or something. And I came out and he was hammered drunk. And was really pissed off, because my mother in law was with the kids. And he doesn't get to have a case. But then he's drunk. So I'm like, well, here you go. You know, and I called my sister and I just told her what happened. And I was so upset, so upset about it. Because it just, it was embarrassing. And it was disappointing, because, you know, my dad had been doing so great. So he left, I called his girlfriend immediately, I told her, what happens is his girlfriend has been sober for like, three years. So she's, she's great. So I called her and told her what happened. And, and, you know, she, she just, you know, Jamie, this isn't who he is. And like, I know, I know that he's my dad. I've known him my whole life. I know that that's not who he is. But the things that he has, or that he just It is unacceptable. And I just want to let you know, because I want to make sure that he's getting home safe in that, and that was it. And that's it. And I didn't talk to him. For a few days, he called me or texted me or something like five days later and was like, apologizing profusely. So sorry, so ashamed of themselves. And you know, at that point, then that's when you start to feel guilty. Because they feel so bad. They feel so guilty. But yeah, you just have to be as understanding and as graceful as possible. Let them know that you still love them. You always love them. But it's so disappointing. Yeah. And to be an adult child of an alcoholic, sometimes feels like I said previously, that you're the parent. And you're just like disappointed in your kid. Yeah, you can't get out of their own way. Yeah, so ah, you can feel their pain. Absolutely. And I can feel their pain. Yeah, I can feel their pain in so many ways I can feel their pain that they don't have a great relationship with, but their grandkids that our relationships are broken, with their own kids, all of us. It's never, it's not the same, it hasn't been the same for a long time. And, you know, thank God, I have my brother and sister who have been such like, the best support system, we really are able to talk these things out. And, and kind of, anytime an incident happens, we all want to keep each other in the loop. Because you know, what happens normally is one parent will go to the next kid and the next kid and the next kid. And it's just almost like a game, like, isolation game. Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann  43:12  
So I know with families that may not have alcoholism in their family, like, if you talk to, if you talk to, like I had joked before we started recording, you can throw a stone and hit at least three people that have been affected by alcoholism in some way. But we don't talk about it enough to realize that and take the stigma away. But if you haven't had any personal relationships with someone that's an alcoholic, you may not have a full understanding of the disease and its nature and that it's a family disease and just how pervasive it is. So what would you want people to understand about how, you know, how you view? What's going on with your parents.

Jamie Cooper  44:02  
I think that addiction as a whole, as you touched on is, is the stigma is so, so strong, and it needs to be not. It needs to be almost normalized. And the fact that it needs to be talked about. And people need to realize that it's, it affects so many people than than we know. And with my parents, the challenges that I face, you know, we have to just I just have to learn to deal with loving them, and really just understanding that sometimes it's a choice, but the choice to go overboard, isn't there. So the choice to take that first drink is there. But the choice to keep drinking isn't there. And so many things come up with why addicts are out X, there's underlying depressions and PTSD and childhood trauma. So we don't know what people are dealing with. On the inside, we don't know what people have what they're trying to self medicate. But addiction, addiction is hard. In so many ways. There's no rhyme or reason why it happens to one person doesn't happen to the next. And so for someone that isn't an addict is so hard to understand and addict so hard. And unless you have gone to the rehab therapy's gone to the lessons that teach you about why it is like what goes on chemically in the brain of an addict, like how addiction and how alcoholism, changes the chemical makeup of the brain. And drugs as well. You don't get it, you just why are they doing that? Why can't they just stop?

Danielle Bettmann  45:56  
Right? Yeah. And I feel like we do need better education on understanding that as a whole of our society, because then we're able to actually empathize and find true solutions, and fund solutions. And you know, just have a way better understanding of taking away that stigma, because it isn't just a person choosing to live a very destructive life because of the kicks and giggles of it.

Jamie Cooper  46:28  
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, like you said, empathy is a huge thing. Coping is a huge thing. Yeah, yeah, giving, having the tools to be able to set the boundaries. You know, a lot of times children of alcoholics like grow up and they do not have any healthy boundaries. And they are severe codependence. And they are constantly seeking validation and attention from other people. And then they ended up getting into unhealthy relationships themselves. And so to have these, these coping mechanisms in place, and education of like, you know, how to deal how to have a relationship with someone who's an addict. It, I think that things would change so much. You know, because they're everywhere. They're everywhere. People are addicted to everything. Alcohol, drugs, food, you know, it's it's, there's so many different forms of addiction.

Danielle Bettmann  47:23  
Right? Yeah, and knowing that there's underlying reasons, usually, you know, PTSD, like you said, trauma, mental illness, all of those things underneath the surface, that are also interacting with the chemical imbalance of that person's likelihood to take on an addictive behavior creates, like a bad cocktail of circumstances, that it's very hard for them to pull themselves out of, by conscious choice. And they need help because they are sick. But it's very hard for them to see that as well. Because they seem to still have like that conscious side of it. Still, they're saying, I have choice, I can do this, I still know what to do. But they can't seem to be able to do it. And that, you know, deteriorates their own self image and self esteem as well. So they're still not going to even believe that maybe even help is out there, or if it's going to work. So it's very complicated, and layered, to be that person, but to also love someone that is struggling in that way to be able to relate and empathize and share the love that they need, while wanting them to get help and not always working or being the time that it's going to stick.

Jamie Cooper  48:50  
Absolutely. And you know, with with addiction comes line in with addiction comes manipulation. Yeah. And, and so it's not just addiction, it's not just the substance. It's everything else that comes with it. Yeah. And I think that, like I said before, you know, we just need to have as much empathy and grace as possible. And in dealing with someone and loving someone as as an addict as loving them for who they are, despite that addiction. And like you had said and mentioned, like loving my parents and remembering my parents for who they were before this happened and before the addiction, grasped, grasp them and took them away. Because they are not who they were when I grew up. I want nothing more for them to become that person. But at a certain time, you have to let go of those that passed and realize that that's not happening. It probably will never happen. So what I can do is love them remember and love and cherish those amazing memories. Never forget to tell my kids about them. Never stop talking about them and move forward to the best of my ability keeping my family Send me safe.

Danielle Bettmann  50:03  
Do you feel like they still love you? Absolutely. Yeah. I know. Being in may disappoint you. Yeah,

Jamie Cooper  50:11  
being a mom, I know that, that love will never go away. And the disappointment is part of the addiction. The all gray. Yeah. So they don't want to, they don't want to disappoint me. But yeah, they do.

Danielle Bettmann  50:33  
The lying and the manipulation can look like intentional harm. But usually it's a coping mechanism, coping mechanism on top of a coping mechanism, because they care so much. And that love is still there, that they hate to hurt the people that they know are being hurt by their actions. And so they're trying to problem solve around it, you know, and like, create this like whirlwind around them of trying to make make it not hurt the people, but they that it inevitably does and makes it worse. But it really is, it's never out of like vicious, intent to harm, it's usually that they are so hurt inside and know that they're hurting and feel so much guilt for how they're affecting the people around them that they love that they just feel so over their head. Absolutely.

Jamie Cooper  51:29  
It's like that expression just like keep digging a hole. They just keep digging, digs and digs and digs and digs. Sometimes they can get out a little bit, but then they just keep digging. And so you just have to remember that. And they don't want to hurt us they they love us, our kids, their grandkids they love their grandkids more than anything. And that's the hardest part about addiction, is it? It affects so many families it affects but it hurts. Addiction hurts.

Danielle Bettmann  52:04  
What resources did you find? Did you go to any support groups, read any books talk to anybody.

Jamie Cooper  52:10  
So I've read the codependent no more, I read that when my dad first went to rehab, why years ago, my sister my brother, obviously they've been my biggest support system and my husband, thank God for him every day he has been just a godsend. And he really keeps my head level and, and really tries to keep me kind through the situation. My father in law, his is always been the same way just they love you. You love them. Just be kind that's you know, that's your number one thing you can do like those are your parents and oh my god I know what you don't understand. But you know people around you that are that are constantly remind like, like reminding you and instilling in you to have that grace, keep that love allanon I've been to a couple Al Anon meetings, those were eye opening years ago. So those are those are helpful. The adult children of alcoholics website, read through that all day. And so that's really, really helpful. But other than that, like I would say, I've just found most of my strength within my family within my brother and sister because we do go through the same thing. Our situation is so unique to so many other people because like I said before, like our parents weren't like this growing up. So for us, it's been we've not only grieved, our parents being alcoholics, we've grieved our past our parents being married. You know, we went through a divorce at like an adult age. And yeah, I remember when my parents were first going through divorce, I was talking to my friend Greg and I, his parents got divorced when he was much younger. And I said, it was so hard for me like as older you really understand what's going on, you really grasp that you can get you hear what's happening. You hear the dirty talk, you hear, like you know all the tidbits and your ears and and I said to him, I said I got I wish my parents were sort of got divorced when I was younger. So I don't remember any of this. And he's like, No, you don't. You said you, your parents raised you. You had a whole family growing up. They built you to be the person that you are today. You have your morals in place, you have your you know, your inner inner compass is aligned, you know who you are as a person as an adult, and you're better equipped to handle this as an adult than you would be as a child to where you are so lost and you don't understand. So he's like, No, you don't wish that he's like You are good and you are going to be great. I remember that conversation. I'll never forget that conversation was like nine years ago.

Danielle Bettmann  54:42  
Wow, that is perspective. Yeah. Yeah. Well. Any other advice that you have that you feel like you've learned that you can share to maybe a mom that can relate to a strenuous This relationship or just over regular overwhelm with two toddlers.

Jamie Cooper  55:07  
Yeah, I think that you know, with it just being Father's Day and just be Mother's Day and you see like all the harm Hallmark commercials of like the moms and everyone has like, these great fancy relationships and they're so beautiful like it that is that is so beautiful for them. But not everybody has that. And it's okay to feel sad. It's okay to feel sad that you don't have the relationship that you want and that other people have with their parents. It's okay. Talk to people to reach out to people around you just talk. Because you'll realize and understand that this affects way more people than you think it is. There's probably a lot of your friends out there that are affected by alcoholism one way or another, you know, aunt, uncle, grandparent, mom, dad, husband, sister, there, it's all there. And addiction is out there. And it's real and, and people need support to be able to cope with it. Even if you just, Hey, can I just talk to you about something like, my my best friend Sarah is the best, she just listens. She'll just listen. And that's sometimes what you need. You just need somebody to listen. And just know that, you know, you're not alone in addiction, being a victim of addiction. And someone that isn't addicts can be really lonely. And it can make you feel really hurt. And just know that the best thing that you can do is just try to be kind and love them. Then just set your boundaries. Make sure you're safe. Make sure your kids are safe, make sure your family is safe, but try not to give up on them. And that's very important as well.

Danielle Bettmann  56:50  
Really wise advice. Really wise.

Jamie Cooper  56:54  
I still don't have it all figured out yet. It's an everyday it's an everyday thing. You know, it's everyday battle every day is different. You know, one week straight. The next week isn't one month, right? The next month isn't? So it is ever evolving, ever changing? And so are my feelings on it? To be honest.

Danielle Bettmann  57:12  
Yeah. Yeah, because it's okay to be have righteous anger, or be grieving or be in denial or like be bouncing around those seven stages of grief at any point. And yeah, that's normal, that's expected that you have every right to, you know, you don't have to keep a perfect facade, just because you're a mom to two kids that you have to, you know, communicate it perfectly. You're human. And you're, you're sad and you're mad, and that's okay. Yeah. And

Jamie Cooper  57:45  
I think having the kids, the most important thing that I can do is, is encourage their relationship with them. Don't talk about them. In front of them, at least, yeah. You know, if you have to use code names, you know, if you're having a conversation and a kid is within earshot. But I think that the the number one thing is to just stay positive with your children, make sure that they know that their grandparents are loved. And that, you know, you love their relationship with them, talk about them. Talk about the good times. I tell my son a story every night before we go to bed. And one of them's always usually when I was a child, when I was a little girl, and they're real stories, and he loves them. And they bring me a sense of peace and they bring me like a joy that I you know, to say something that I haven't thought about in a while. That was a fantastic memory in my life. So I think no matter what, just keeping that those memories and keeping those good, those good feelings alive. And making sure that your kids know that their grandparents are loved. They might not be around as much but their loves.

Danielle Bettmann  58:57  
Yeah. So the last question that I asked every guest that comes on, is how are you, the mom that your kids need?

Jamie Cooper  59:10  
I asked myself that question every day. I show up for my kids, even when things are really hard. I try my best to, to, to do better every day. And to really improve on my skills as a mom, as a wife, as a friend every single day to set the best example I can for them. I love those kids, more than I ever thought I could ever love anything in my life. And I know they say that love is not enough that you have to do more. But if you go to bed every night, knowing that tomorrow you're going to try to do more or trying to do more when you wake up in the morning. I think that You're winning, you're doing you're doing the right thing. Yeah. And when your kids see you trying, when you're on the floor playing with them, when they you let them cook the banana bread that they just spilled half of the container of cinnamon in, it's fine. We're all gonna be okay. And when my son looks up at me and says, I'm sorry, it's, it's okay, buddy. It's fine. It's totally fine. We're, we're all going to make it, it's a day to day thing. And my kids are my life. And I think that putting them at the center of your life and making sure that they are safe and loved, and well taken care of. And understood, is the most important thing.

Danielle Bettmann  1:00:44  
Yes, preach. Your kids are lucky to have you. You're an outstanding mom, and an amazing daughter as well. Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing such a sensitive aspect of your life. But I know that it will help a lot of other families that are navigating similar circumstances and just really will love to not feel so alone without help. So

Jamie Cooper  1:01:13  
thank you so much. Yeah, no, thank

Danielle Bettmann  1:01:15  
you. Are you able to look at boundaries and a whole new light? I hope so. Jamie is such an inspiring example of an intentional mom who knows her role. be empowered to trust your gut and draw unnecessary boundary. You can do hard things. Next episode will be a short why we're failing episode. So check back and don't miss it. Do you feel like you're getting beat down by 2020 I'm here to pick you up off the floor, dust you off and send you back swinging. You can do these hard things, but sometimes we need to ask for help to get there. Go to parentingwholeheartedly.com/apply slash coaching to learn more about how I can help and schedule a free call today. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you and I'm cheering you on

Transcribed by https://otter.ai