How do I deal with the guilt and failure I feel about placing my child in residential treatment?


The tingling sensation means it’s working.

06-11-13-27-37 / 21


Hello Diner. When the Bakery received this Order, we realized that nothing any Fortune Cookie can say will ease the hurt of failure. But understand the persistence of that pain is what makes you a good parent. The truth is, you haven’t failed. A failed parent would have blamed this child. A failed parent would have thought only of themselves. A failed parent would not care.

But you continue to care. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Otherwise you wouldn’t hurt. Therefore, Diner, to stop hurting from the guilt of having failed, you simply need to stop caring.

Now, Fortune Cookies don’t have the gift of clairvoyance, but I can say with certainty that you will never stop caring about your child. As a consequence you will hurt for quite some time–so long as you consider this a failure.

Ask yourself why. Why do you see taking your child to residential treatment as a failure? Think for a second before continuing.

Now what if it had been to a doctor for an infection? Would you see that as a failure? Precisely: you wouldn’t. In fact, short of religious reasons, you would question parents who would not do that for their child.

You are bringing your child to residential treatment for the same reasons you would take them to see a doctor: they are suffering from something you have neither resources nor training to treat. The best response would be to seek help. Had that been your Order–what should you do with your child–the Fortune would have been to seek help. Quite simply, Diner, I believe you’re succeeding.

You’re succeeding and learning. If you really want the full rewards of this experience, teach others what you’re learning. That is where knowledge becomes wisdom. Make mental illness less of a stigma so that calling for help in this situation would become as obvious as calling an ambulance for a severe injury.

Of course you Diners would rather have lives bereft of mental illnesses, residential treatment programs, injuries, and ambulances. But you wouldn’t have the resilience and knowledge you have now.

My time is short. In a few moments I will be eaten. I could have stayed silent and been as gritty and bitter to eat out of protest, or I could have said something that may possibly give you some perspective and comfort. Of course, I chose to help you. I don’t know if I have, Diner, but what you’ve just read is my life’s work regardless. That is all my ingredients will allow. Continue living this life knowing you’re succeeding as best you know how. At least, I hope you will–it will hurt less. Good luck, Diner.