Parental Ponderings

I have two adult children and mostly I look at their lives and how they are conducting themselves and I’m proud of them.  When their dad left 5 years ago they were both involved in the music ministry at church and inevitably fell away because that was their dad’s thing and when he was no longer there…it just faded into their past.  We eventually changed churches and at first they were open to getting involved but it was a tight-knit group and after a few tries just felt awkward so they opted to coming to the big church with me instead of youth group.  Now they are 18 and 20 and neither of them is involved in a “group”.  I’m trying not to see that as a failing on my part.

They both have decent friends too.  They try to choose wisely and I know at this age unless you are totally involved at church and even then…it can be hard to find people who will lift you up in the Lord instead of drag you down.  We all have our journeys.

The thing that is perplexing me the most as I try to continue being parent to these two adults is that fuzzy line between the role I’ve always had as parent (faithful provider of all life’s necessities including room and board) to someone who is being used for said room and board and given nothing back in return.  I am beginning to feel in some ways my home is being used as a depository for all their crap, a place to play video games and sleep in between outings with friends, school , and work.  Chores?  Shared responsibility?  Keeping up the cleanliness of your space?  Nah….who can be bothered with such trivial and meaningless pursuits.  Disneyland, a hooka lounge, Starbucks, and the park is where it’s at.  There is no time in the day for doing favors for mom, or even fulfilling the responsibilities you already agreed to.

To be fair my daughter despite her snappy comebacks and tantrums every now and then is doing her part.  She’s working very hard to get good grades and fulfills her end of the bargain.  But my son is in near open rebellion.

It leaves me weary of the struggle.  I bring it up and there is an argument and then a realization that I’m right and an apology, but nothing ever really changes.  The pattern is still the same. The social life takes precedent over any promise given to me and if I dare bring it up again then I’m harping, nagging, and am never satisfied.

When things are clearly not being done as promised, I get the weapons of guilt and aggression instead of humility and acceptance.  And frankly, I don’t know what to do anymore.

I’ve kicked my son out of the house twice for his disrespectful behavior toward me.  It’s been difficult in those days because he either had to live with his dad who lives 30 miles away or he slept on his friends couch and didn’t really have a home.  Each time he promised to do better.  And if I’m fair, it has gotten incrementally better.  But the measure of improvement is so small it is barely noticeable. Like those earthquakes you know happened but you didn’t feel.

I love my son and I am a parent and I want him to  know I will always “be there for him.”  But I also want him to know that doesn’t mean he can use my money, home, and privileges without regard to my conditions.  Each time I threaten that he will have to leave again I’m faced with his arguments that I’m unloving and too critical.  And  yet I know I have to stand my ground.

I literally don’t know what to do next.

I’m preparing to sell my home and move to a small apartment with my Harry.  The proceeds from my home will go toward buying a condo for my daughter to live in close to her school.  It solves my problem of paying $11,000 per year for her to live in the dorms.  I’ll actually be saving a lot of money this way and Harry and I will get our own place on the beach like we wanted. But I don’t know what to do with my son.  To invite him to move in with his sister in exchange for being a full-time student or to tell him he’s on his own and needs to live with his dad.

I don’t know if I should lower my expectations and be happy that he is simply still in school (even if it seems to be the least part of his life).  He is full-time finally at his local community college for the first time.

Maybe if he lives in that space with his sister, the conflicts will not arise because I will not be there watching his every move.  Maybe it’s my lot in life as a parent to endure my son’s twenty-somethings while he plays, and makes mistakes, and wastes time until he realizes that he wants more out of life and matures.

I don’t know.

Harry and I are planning a trip for all of us at Christmas time to London.  I cringe every time I get into a conflict with my son knowing how expensive that trip is going to be for me and Harry.  And I wonder if we are feeding into his entitlement.  I didn’t go to Europe until I was 40 years-old.  It’s not a right of passage by any means.  But my heart wants to give them that experience.  I know they will never forget it.

Why does the heart of a parent want to give in the face of disrespect and rejection?  It perplexes me.

The conflict exists because I stand up to it and point it out and then make him do as I wish (eventually…)  Conflict doesn’t exist when I turn a bind eye to the things that aren’t getting done and let him just live his life.

Is the role of a parent of a 20 year-old to quit expecting follow through?  Now I’m blubbering and going on, so I’ll stop.

My heart is heavy today though considering all my options.  I’d love to hear from a parent who can give ME some hope today that things will eventually get better.  Anyone out there?

4 thoughts on “Parental Ponderings

  1. I’m not a parent but I have been someone’s child. All I can say is there is a lot of self esteem in getting a job and supporting yourself. However I did have my parents financial support while studying. If you offer the flat as a joint accommodation choice for your son you and daughter he won’t feel left out. Also, do you really want to take your kids on holidays with you? My parents started doing their own hols when I as at Uni. I did house sit for them, which was fun. They may not even want to go overseas with their oldies. Paying for their own cheap holiday abroad in the future gives them a goal to work towards. Not sure if that helps, but to a point your kids have to work their own stuff out.

    • My kids are weird they actually like hanging out with me LOL. But I think the idea of them planning their own too. And I will most likely offer the place to both kids as long as they are in school full time. Thanks for the tips from a kid 😉

  2. Livvy, I think your feelings are normal and your children’s behavior is normal. I have three, 18-20-22. My kids too get caught up in building their lives. All of their lives, our house was always just a space to be and not their responsibility. It was mine, so they don’t really ever make that switch in thinking to several “adults” living in a house.
    So, we talk alot about independence, what that means to them, and what they want in terms of feeling independent. Then we talk alot about what independence takes (what it costs). I keep reminding them that they aren’t dependant anymore and what that means. All three of them can live on their own. I did at 19 and my daughter (22) has been living on her own since she was 18 (her choice). This is one of the hardest stages in a parents life (in my opinion). I say, give yourself a break. You sound like you are doing all the right things. Don’t stop asking them for their help. My strategy – Ask and walk away. I don’t give them time to argue. Lots of times they “forget” and I just remind them in the same way. Some days there’s frustration, other times not. It’s a crapshoot. But I think you have their best interests at heart. Just know you aren’t alone-lots of moms are out here trying to figure out how to love their adult sons (and daughters).

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