Thursday, March 11, 2021

Parenting the adult child: when is enough enough?


Parenting is hard. At least that's been my experience. There are plenty of joys, absolutely, every day. Let's be honest though, there are also plenty of dark moments - and regrets. At the moment I'm struggling with knowing where to set the boundaries with adult off-spring. At what point do you conclude that an adult child (and I use both terms advisedly) is just taking the piss? Is it three months, six months, two years. Is it when the adult off-spring decides to give up a job because it is a long travel and although they are earning a decent wage, they are not prepared to share a house with anyone. Anyone except you that is. Is it when they won't take low paying jobs - not accepting the reality that not finishing high school will affect your job prospects - because they don't pay enough? Is it when they say they'll go back to do their year 12 equivalent when they can enter as mature age, but then 9 months after their birthday they're saying they can't study online.

Or is it when they're rude and pick arguments, and tell you all the ways you could be a better parent or even person over and over again?

Where do you say enough is enough? When do you push against the doubt and feeling of guilt for not 'supporting' your adult off-spring and pushing them out of the nest. If my partner behaved like this, I'd leave. I wouldn't stand for the abuse. At what point do you do that to your child?

You know, I once shared my frustration with this situation on my Facebook page. A page with 70 people I felt I knew well. More than half of those were family members. The rest were friends spanning the past 35 years of my life. I had a few supportive comments both on the post and privately. Then out of the blue I had a parent I had considered a friend comment that I was a horrible parent. This parent attempted to link my adult children into the post, not realising I don't have my as friends on social media. The parent said they would take my (other child, not the one I was venting about) into their home if they could. I honestly thought that parent was joking. Then the parent's partner joined in the attack telling me I should be ashamed of myself talking about my child like that in public.

I was taken aback. My husband, who was also friends with this couple called them to find out what was going on. One parent answered, he asked to speak to the other parent and was told the other parent was busy and would call him back - of course, we've never heard from either of them since.

I think the part that shocked me the most was the numerous conversations we'd had about their difficult experiences with their children and the importance of parents supporting each other. We had always been supportive of them, but when I expressed frustration and difficulty parenting, they pounced like lions on an antilope.

Here we are over a year later, I've wanted talk about this since it happened, but have sat on it while I considered what I wanted to focus on.

I want to focus on how difficult it is to be a frustrated, self-doubting, exasperated parent. In parent communities this topic arises from time to time, and people agree that judgement should be suspended because no one really knows what's going on in a home (I am not referring to physical, mental, verbal, or psychologic abuse). The thing is, when it comes to the crunch, people want to protect themselves from being suspected of less than perfect parenting by not speaking out for the child, even if the child is an adult. Parents should never feel taken advantage of or abused by their children, because they are their children, and love for your child should be unconditional even unto death (I am not being flippant).

The judging of other parents is reflexive. Often the judge isn't self-aware, they just don't want to seem complicit in the act of a parent feeling anything other than love for their child.

Relationships are hard. Family relationships can be especially hard because 'blood is thicker than water', but when is enough enough? Is there a point where parents can say, 'I am not prepared to continue to be treated this way, even by my own adult child.' Where is that point? Is it a matter of time past, or severity? Is it okay if the child is being passive aggressive and not physically aggressive? Does verbal or psychological abuse from an adult child count as a good enough reason to stand your ground?

When is it okay for a parent to tell their child it's time to go?

No comments:

Good Job!