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4 Bumps

Does anyone else feel sad about their children's path?+

Our adult child, 19, was on a great road to success...wonderful grades, a top notch college living on campus, a wonderful relationship that showed promise for the future, a pretty good attitude despite some past struggles.

Fast forward 3 months, bf broke up with her (tough breakup) because she started smoking pot for something to do on campus, started skipping classes and lost financial aid/on academic probation, and now dropped out.

Living at home, doing not much of anything...internet, watching shows, texting nonstop (definitely looking for another relationship, with a girl this time, although she still would date a guy-we have said we don't care about that), sleeping during the day, staying up reaaly late, taking food up to her room, she won't eat what we eat due to self imposed dietary restrictions, being bitchy and argumentative with at least one family member almost daily, spending the little money left in her acct. that we saved for college expenses.

She finally got a job at the local grocery store. That's the only productive thing she's done in 6 months.

I'm trying to be positive, but it just gets us down that we've done our best to foster her success, but she is choosing a different path at the moment and it's way below what she's capable of. Trying hard not to say things we really think, like "get off your butt and exercise, read a book, clean the house, walk the dog, stop watching so much tv and texting nonstop, take a class, volunteer, do something to better yourself!"

If she didn't live with us, we wouldn't have to see it. We used to have so much in common, but nobody really wants to be around her much. We do try. She has become a pain to live with, to be honest.

We are good parents, but feel conflicted at this point in time. Yes, we love her, but have you ever just not liked your child? I feel like a bad parent for feeling this...

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Asked by Anonymous at 9:29 AM on Jul. 11, 2013 in Adult Children (18+)

Answers (15)
  • I am sorry this is happening, I have been blessed with three adult children that make me proud on a daily basis...hope things get better soon.

    Answer by older at 9:43 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • I can imagine that's hard seeing such a drastic turnaround, and not for the better. I would impose house rules - curfew, no food in bedrooms, etc. and household chores. If she's living at home she needs to abide by the rules and pitch in to help out. If she's not in school she should also start paying rent (even if you put it in a savings account to give her later - dont tell her this!! just do it). I would call a family meeting and outline the new guidelines. Be prepared for her to move out. She may need to hit bottom before she realizes what she's losing.

    Answer by missanc at 9:45 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • It sounds like you need to set some boundaries and then enforce them. There's a very good book to help you with that. It's title is simply BOUNDARIES written by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. She has to experience consequences for her bad behavior or she will never "outgrow" this phase of her life. Probably the best thing that could happen to her would be for her to hit rock bottom. While that's hard to watch, it is often the only way for people like your daughter to appreciate how good they've always had it.

    Answer by NannyB. at 10:00 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • Your feelings make sense.
    The more personally painful something is, the more likely it also will trigger feelings of impatience, anger, dislike, frustration. "Negative" feelings (like dislike, annoyance, blame) get triggered by a stimulus that raises painful or threatening feelings. (Feelings like fear, pain, self-doubt, self-blame, responsibility, guilt, shame, failure, powerlessness, helplessness.)
    Those are things that parents seem likely to experience when a child is struggling. all makes sense (including the part you feel bad about.)
    Isn't this the daughter who has been self-harming & is in therapy?
    It is a hard road.
    Try to consider that her "about face" in college/life reflected an internal reality. Breaking down, with the "facade" of success/achievement crumbling, exposed something important & doesn't have to be the end of the story. It may be ultimately positive--bringing up hurtful issues, leading to healing.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:41 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • P.S. I don't have any children that old but yes, I do struggle with difficult feelings when I see things in my children that trigger self-doubt, regret.
    And it's normal to "not like" your child when his/her behavior triggers feelings that are hard to tolerate. I think to the extent that we see our children/loved ones as extensions of ourselves, we will be vulnerable to feeling intolerant of anything that triggers self-doubt, embarrassment, shame (etc.) in us!
    We want to see behaviors that are delightful, in part because they reassure us that all is well (which also reassures us that we did "a good job" or are "good parents.")
    The more "centered" we are as people, in the sense of self-worth being secure & established (not contingent on "performance" or the validation of our children's performance), the more we'll be able to see behavior as reflecting inner realities, some of which need attention/help. It won't feel threatening.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:50 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • Wow, that's almost the female version of my son! Although he lost his full-ride scholarship after his dad died when he was 19. But still, a loss is a loss. It's no fun sitting there watching it all unfold & seeing the mistakes they are making. We can only hope they learn from them & get their act together. It's been a long road back for my son & his lack of cooperation & the non-existent rent is putting a strain on him living with us. I've debated on kicking him out at times, but fear he won't finish school if I do. Sorry, I digress. I guess we all have our limits & our dreams of what we wanted their lives to turn out like. I say as long as she's not in serious trouble, you just need to have faith that she will figure it out & start to turn things around. Esp. when she sees her friends moving forward with their schooling. it could just be the kick in the pants she needs. GL

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 11:28 AM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • Thanks mrsmom. I hope it all turns out well for you, too.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 12:05 PM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • DD1 very bright going to college to become a Profiler for the FBI (drops out after one semester) Got to busy playing D & D and claimed she was sick all the time. Married, 2 kids, 2 bankruptcy's.
    DD2 agan very smart. Went to college got married before graduating, jerk pulled her down, and finally several years later she is divorced, finally finished degree although not using it and has 2 beautiful little girls. One with the jerk and one with a sweetheart.
    DD3 never did well in school but has always had a job until this last few months and she's living with DD2.

    DD1 & DD2 are both happy. DD3 is only happy if there's a lot of drama in her life which there currently is.

    It's nothing that we do as parents. We raise them the best we can and then we have to cut the apron strings and let them go. They have to make of themselves what they will.

    Answer by baconbits at 12:20 PM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • I'm in the same boat with my son. He's fricking brilliant but he's too lazy. No plans, no job, no future....
    I'm lost as for what to do with him. If I kick him out he'll just go to his dad's and do the same thing there. Frustrating. Sad.

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 12:58 PM on Jul. 11, 2013

  • She must have a particular interest right? Help her find a job in that field. Maybe she just needs a push. She sounds depressed & when you feel like that it's hard to get going. Help her find something she likes. You do the leg work then put her there!

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 1:23 PM on Jul. 11, 2013

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