When is Parenting a Never Ending Story?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
QUESTION: When is parenting a never ending story?
ANSWER: When you make it that way!

Many of your friends are looking forward to their children "leaving the nest." But you… you are wondering if will ever be over. You are thinking you cannot afford the time or money to get away and have your own time. You may joyfully or begrudgingly find that you are redoing your life around your perception of your child’s needs.

  • You are wondering if your child will ever grow up.
  • Do you get exasperated with your child never making the right decisions and always needing your rescuing hand?
  • Do you find that you are still putting your life on hold as you struggle to care for your child?
  • There could be many reasons for this. It could be that you have an infant or adolescent and you are appropriately in the midst of the active parenting years.
  • On the other hand, it could be that you have a 18 - 20+ year old who desperately needs to be a grown-up and you desperately do not want to let go.
  • If your adult child is an adult - treat him/her like an adult.

Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of experiencing life on his/her own terms. Excessive rescuing is often tantamount to creating a person who is without the skills to negotiate life. You may have to take a step back and allow your "child" to rise and fall on her/his own merit.

This means that this adult in your life must:
  • Experience the consequences of his/her behavior.
  • Develop problem-solving skills that do not rely on parental rescue.
  • Experience discomfort and joy that is self-generated.
  • Make decisions based on his/her views – not yours.
  • Disagree/agree with your ways of viewing and living in the world.

Your job is to remember that:
  • Your "child’s" disagreement with you does not mean that you are a bad parent or that you "child" is wrong or disrespectful – it simply means that your "child" is a full-fledged human, different from you and not an appendage.
  • When your "child" calls to tell you about the day, or a relationship or a problem or a success – it is not an automatic request for your opinion or your approval or your recommendations.
  • When your "child" makes a request for rescuing - you must evaluate each request and your ability/wish to comply against the lessons you wish your "child" to learn about self-sufficiency and resourcefulness. If your "child" is an infrequent rescue seeker, and you are able to help, you may choose to do so. If your "child" has a crisis around every corner, you may not be helping by the chronic rescuing.

If your adult child is still living in your home, consider the following approaches:
  • Charge rent/utilities at or close to fair market value.
  • If possible, try to have the living quarters separate.
  • Do not redo your life to accommodate childcare, transportation, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Do not provide cooking/housekeeping services on a regular basis.
  • Have a discussion now – if you have not already, and determine an appropriate move-out date.
  • Being an adult child and being a parent can be a joyful time or an exhausting time – you are the determining factor. Perhaps it’s worth it now to live your own life and tolerate your "child" living his/her own life as well.