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Moms with Adult Kids Moms with Adult Kids

You don't get "done" parenting when your child turns 18 or 21...

Posted by on May. 4, 2012 at 12:42 AM
  • 34 Replies

Occasionally  when I tell my friends something about my relationship with my son,age 28, who is a recovering alcoholic-drug addict, they might respond saying, "Well, he's an adult and..."  As though his physical age removes my parental responsibility.  So I've asked myself, "What is my responsibility regarding my son?"  He doesn't think or behave like an adult in many ways.  He is self-absorbed and often thoughtless.  He is missing many life skills.  I have had a role in shaping his character, I've owned that in another post on this site.  My parenting influence was in many ways destructive, although at the time I was unaware of it.  

What can I do now?  I can recognize my role in the cycle of child abuse perpetrated in my family.  My parents abused me, my mother was abused as a child.  I can stop being afraid to look at myself- I can own what I did.  I can resolve to face the pain of regret without guilt.  Over the years I have made many positive changes, I am no longer mentally unstable or abusive, I do my best to be open to my son and to guide him only as he requests my advice.  As we go forward, I will continue to learn healthier, more effective ways to be present in his life.  My condition as a stage four breast cancer patient has provided me the opportunity to clarify what is most important in my life.  My relationship with my son is high on that list.  

When children struggle, I think it affects the whole family.  Each situation is different, I do not believe there are many easy answers.  But, I believe we are parents for life, spiritual companions who can learn and grow from each other.  We don't stop being parents, but over time our roles change, phases come and go.  When adult children do not thrive- when they are repeatedly unkind, thoughtless, demanding and/or refuse to participate in the family group, or when they are rejecting, or when they make bad mistakes, it isn't always time to shut them out.  It is time to model positive problem-solving skills.  Children in these situations are often mirrors for the family.  We have had a role in shaping their characters, and if they are missing skills, such as sensitivity to others, personal direction, responsibility, gratitude, etc. we do have to look at ourselves.  Perhaps these skills could have been in place years earlier, but it is not too late to try to intervene- especially, if the adult child is living with you.

For me, it is about remaining open to growth, to doing the work to make my own changes, and healing.  This loving energy will flow toward my son, and will offer him the encouragement that change can be made at any time.  There are many things in life that we can't control.  But, if we are open to what we can do, even the worst situations may have a chance of improving.  Our children have to do the work themselves, we can't do it for them.  But we can model how to cope with adversity, make and correct mistakes, create changes and maintain balance.  My responsibility as a parent of an adult child, then, is to be sure to take good care of myself (so that I can be there for others); to honor the spiritual role given me as his parent, do my own work and make my own changes, do my best to find balance, remain open to him, assist in ways that encourage growth of independence and foster life skills, notice and cheer his progress, and support his growing sense of personal identity.  I've probably left alot out, but these are my thoughts tonight.        

by on May. 4, 2012 at 12:42 AM
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Replies (1-10):
EireLass
by Gold Member on May. 4, 2012 at 1:25 AM
1 mom liked this

I agree with you. Whether we want to admit being 'parents for life' or calling it being 'responsible to those we love'....it's all the same. We're limited in 'control' and 'making' them do what we think they should or want them to do.....but we are older, wiser, been there, sort of thing.

Between Dan & I we have 5. Various ages, careers, and independant levels. So we respond differently to them, according to who they are, what they may need. We assume they're all going along nicely, but when we see them 'slipping', we have no problem speaking up and telling them what we see, and what we think.

A few years ago, we had to play the 'tough love' thing with the 18 year old boy. Had to give him an ultimatum, as we could see him settling into a very unproductive life. As it turned out, and with time, he's turned into a great kid, and a very hard worker (3 jobs).

Now we have the 24 year old with out grandson. She brought her 'new love' up for the weekend with her for us to meet. She didn't leave with our approval that's for sure. At one point, Dad asked her to go for a walk through the woods with him. He told her when she gets back to FLA, to lose this guy fast, rent a UHaul, pack her house, and get the hell up here. I told her 3 times she was so far above this loser. When we hugged goodbye at the airport, Dad said....you know, we can send him on the plane, and you can stay. I hugged her and said to pay attention to Dad, he really sees what's going on. So who knows.

But no, I feel it's obligation, responsibility and love that we continue to give. And we expect it from them as well.

diamondgirl748
by on May. 4, 2012 at 1:50 AM

 I agree with you to we all in the same  obligation of love for them. no matter what we say it's up to them to wake up and see what we saying. my dd was in the same relationship over and over on till she got it, know she said I should have listen to you. I told her am just glad you are here with me and not hurting no more. never to late.open your arms and hold them tell them you love them no matter what.

Shellness
by on May. 4, 2012 at 2:31 AM
1 mom liked this

 It's called family. Its only modern times that say that an 18 yr. old is an adult and therefore not your responsibility. Probably part of the breakdown in our society, but its an easy way out and most people tend to take that easy road.

LadySaphira
by Lisa on May. 4, 2012 at 6:25 AM

LOL REading this reminds me of the long IM lecture I just gave my son Michael Wednesday Night. Once a parent, always a parent.

suzeebloch
by Ronna on May. 4, 2012 at 6:43 AM
2 moms liked this

Very nicely said, Breakoutjoyfull.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

I agree with you here.  We may not be "legally" responsible for our children after they turn 18 but we are still their parents "til death do us part".  And you are so right about being models for our children, and simply  being there for them when they need us - whether they realize or would even admit that they need us! 

busygramma4
by on May. 4, 2012 at 6:49 AM
I love You philosophy! And you hit everything right on the nose. You can't help anyone unless you have realized you can only control your own actions and not others. And you're right no matter what they're still are kids and we love them and want what's best for them.
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nana9106
by Darlene on May. 4, 2012 at 7:26 AM

 I agree. Well said

kam013
by Silver Member on May. 4, 2012 at 7:39 AM
2 moms liked this

We have never lived the "once your 18 rule here" they are our kids we will continue to help, support, nuture, push, pull, prod and whatever else they need for the rest of their lives.  It's who we are, it's why we are a family.  I will not standby silently and watch them make horrible decisions that will alter the courses of their lives.  Yes, ultimately what they do is their decision, but it is up to me as their parent to let them know I don't approve, but at the same time letting them know that we will always be here for them regardless of their age.  

Thank you for sharing with us. 

Bmat
by Barb on May. 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Wow.  I wonder if she'll take your advice. Sometimes people are blinded by emotion and not able to see what others see.  If you wouldn't mind, if she does leave him, would you let us know?

Quoting EireLass:

I agree with you. Whether we want to admit being 'parents for life' or calling it being 'responsible to those we love'....it's all the same. We're limited in 'control' and 'making' them do what we think they should or want them to do.....but we are older, wiser, been there, sort of thing.

Between Dan & I we have 5. Various ages, careers, and independant levels. So we respond differently to them, according to who they are, what they may need. We assume they're all going along nicely, but when we see them 'slipping', we have no problem speaking up and telling them what we see, and what we think.

A few years ago, we had to play the 'tough love' thing with the 18 year old boy. Had to give him an ultimatum, as we could see him settling into a very unproductive life. As it turned out, and with time, he's turned into a great kid, and a very hard worker (3 jobs).

Now we have the 24 year old with out grandson. She brought her 'new love' up for the weekend with her for us to meet. She didn't leave with our approval that's for sure. At one point, Dad asked her to go for a walk through the woods with him. He told her when she gets back to FLA, to lose this guy fast, rent a UHaul, pack her house, and get the hell up here. I told her 3 times she was so far above this loser. When we hugged goodbye at the airport, Dad said....you know, we can send him on the plane, and you can stay. I hugged her and said to pay attention to Dad, he really sees what's going on. So who knows.

But no, I feel it's obligation, responsibility and love that we continue to give. And we expect it from them as well.


EireLass
by Gold Member on May. 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Yes, I'll let you know, because hopefully, that would bring my "Prince Riley" here, haha.

Quoting Bmat:

Wow.  I wonder if she'll take your advice. Sometimes people are blinded by emotion and not able to see what others see.  If you wouldn't mind, if she does leave him, would you let us know?

Quoting EireLass:

I agree with you. Whether we want to admit being 'parents for life' or calling it being 'responsible to those we love'....it's all the same. We're limited in 'control' and 'making' them do what we think they should or want them to do.....but we are older, wiser, been there, sort of thing.

Between Dan & I we have 5. Various ages, careers, and independant levels. So we respond differently to them, according to who they are, what they may need. We assume they're all going along nicely, but when we see them 'slipping', we have no problem speaking up and telling them what we see, and what we think.

A few years ago, we had to play the 'tough love' thing with the 18 year old boy. Had to give him an ultimatum, as we could see him settling into a very unproductive life. As it turned out, and with time, he's turned into a great kid, and a very hard worker (3 jobs).

Now we have the 24 year old with out grandson. She brought her 'new love' up for the weekend with her for us to meet. She didn't leave with our approval that's for sure. At one point, Dad asked her to go for a walk through the woods with him. He told her when she gets back to FLA, to lose this guy fast, rent a UHaul, pack her house, and get the hell up here. I told her 3 times she was so far above this loser. When we hugged goodbye at the airport, Dad said....you know, we can send him on the plane, and you can stay. I hugged her and said to pay attention to Dad, he really sees what's going on. So who knows.

But no, I feel it's obligation, responsibility and love that we continue to give. And we expect it from them as well.


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