Even when your kid is an adult (legally, that is.)
I’ve always encouraged my kids to find themselves. To find a dream and pursue it and most of all, to find happiness and keep it.
The key to happiness is always going to be from within, so for me, the most important life lesson I can teach them is to be happy. I’ve often said I don’t care how you get there, or when you get there, just get there. I remember as a teen, not knowing what I wanted to be as an adult, and feeling caught between two worlds. The world where I couldn’t disappoint my parents and the world where I couldn’t find my footing for fear of disappointing my parents.
So I did everything in my power to fulfill my parents desires. I went to school. (failed my first year of college, went to another school, graduated summa cum laude) then went back to my original school and did the same. Graduated with honors.
And I was miserable for the next 10 years because I didn’t have focus, or drive, or any idea what I wanted to be now that I was an adult.
I don’t wish that on anyone. Especially my children.
We’re at a crossroads with my oldest. He’s not working, and he needs to be. He is looking–and he’s looking hard. I’ve been helping him for months. He’s a teenager–so he makes stupid decisions sometimes. Didn’t we all? I talk to him every day. I don’t nag him or yell at him because he responds negatively to that and shuts down. He’s just oppositional enough that he will do exactly the opposite of what you want if you bark at him and chastise him. I’ve learned over the years to talk to him like an adult and try to give him the room to make mistakes and learn from them. I’ve supported him financially and emotionally. And I will continue to do so for a little while longer.
I may be making a mistake by parenting him this way, but threats don’t work. They never have! I used to call him a chameleon child. It didn’t matter the punishment you doled out, he adapted to it. We took EVERYTHING out of his room one time–he played with pennies he found in the corner. We offered to pay him for his grades; that wasn’t motivating. We yelled, spanked, tore our hair out…he didn’t change anything. He’s adaptable. He needs to do things himself. So I’m trying so hard to let him.
But damn, I sometimes just want to scream at him. Luckily for both of us, I’m smarter than that. I learned a long time ago that doesn’t work. That I had to adapt my parenting style to accommodate his personality and learning style. (I just wish others could do the same…)
He and I have a great relationship. When we talk, he’s honest as am I. He needs to get his shit together, and he knows it. He’s working on it…on his time. And I’m fighting with everything in my being to allow him to do that, because I remember being that kid. Stuck between childhood and adulthood, wanting to please my parents…wanting to do what was right…and losing myself in the end. But if I allow him to do this himself, he’ll be a better man for it.
Parenting ain’t easy.
I can so relate to this one. My son leaves for college in August. Although, he’s only going to be in Jonesboro, he will be on his own completely for the first time.
I’ve really done well with “letting him go”. I don’t check in on him, but I don’t have to! He calls me to tell me where he is and what he’s up to! I know my parenting style has worked for me because he still talks to me. BUT it is so hard when you see a problem as a parent and know you can fix it…and think if you just YELL SOME SENSE INTO THEM that they’ll listen. But the only person yelling helps, is the yeller. LOL
Letting them grow up and make their own mistakes isn’t easy. I miss my 5lb 6oz treefrong.
OH SO TRUE! I am dealing with the same thing except it’s my 19 yr old daughter…
I think 19 is such a pivotal age. They need to find themselves but are so afraid of disappointing their parents! That’s why we have to be the real adults and let them. BUT DAMN! IT AIN’T EASY!
Mine are older-the youngest is 21-and they are still finding themselves, making things work, but they’re doing it! The worse thing I did was force the youngest to keep going to school(she wanted to take a semester off). She graduated this Spring and has plans to keep going… I’m proud of them-and prouder still because they got where they are on their own.
I’m trying to avoid the trap of placing my expectations and desires on him and then blaming him for being “lazy” or a “disappointment” or whatever label some parents place on their kids when they don’t meet those expectations. I want him to find himself. and it may take a while.
I think you’re right…giving them room to succeed (or even fail) on their own allows them to grow up and discover what is important to THEM. I don’t want them to be an adult and think all they’ve ever done is fail or disappoint their parents. That’s not an easy thing to live with..no matter how successful you really are.
And your kids are awesome. You’ve done a great job!
Mine is so young, but still I have found that yelling isn’t the answer. I know that sometimes I let my frustration get to me and I raise my voice but I try not to. It really discourages a child’s growth and crushed their spirit, which obviously I DO NOT want to do. I just hope that I can find that path that works for Laken and I (much like you have with each of the boys, Mel) because I think its instrumental in having an open line of communication with your kids. That is KEY these days for keeping them from going down the wrong path. They are not pawns in our game of chess…….they are individuals and as much as I would like for Laken to grow up and be a rich and famous architect I have to realize he may want to work for the sanitation department and thats NOT failure……..thats Laken becoming Laken not the picture of what I want. Its unfair to place that pressure on a kid
If your kid doesn’t respond to yelling and threats and berating, and you continue to do these things and expect him to one day wake up and listen to you, then you are either a moron or insane. Or both.
Good for you for adapting. More parents should try that route.
THANKS Jessie! I try, but it really sucks sometimes, especially when your co-parent can’t see things objectively. and I LOVE that albert einstein saying. Thanks for posting. I just pinned that bad boy to my quotes board. 🙂
It’s not really my ex’s fault. He didn’t used to be this way. And I’m sad the way he’s handling this because he is losing his kids. I’ve warned him, but he reacts to me much the same as my kid reacts to him. So I’ve stopped trying . I just hope he doesn’t cause a rift that can’t be repaired.
The good news is, my kid called me and asked me to help him with a career plan. We talked at length last night and so today, we’re going to put our heads together and see what we can work out. It HAS to come from him or it will never work.
Listen Mel your kids are amazing. They dont have to become what we say………that will make for a miserable life and Goddess knows we know a few people who have done that. It DOES have to come from him. Its his future. If he wants to be a tag artist………..well then we will encourage him to be the best damned tag artist EVER. I just hope the yelling hasnt hurt his spirit. I know my dad was a screamer……….it killed a little part of me every time he yelled, criticized, belittled, compared me to ther kids, and called me names. Its a hard thing to overcome and took me until adulthood. I dont want that for ANY of our kids
It’s a tough line as a parent. Old school parenting damages. My parents (whom I love and adore) heaped their expectations on me and I’m still not meeting them…as a published fucking author! LOL I don’t know if my life would have been different had I been allowed to find my way on my own, but I do know that I’m going to do my damnedest to allow my kids to do that…within reason. 🙂 Boy does need to get a job. LOL
He does pay me for his cell phone, as he should…he’s responsible…he’s just young and slightly stupid sometimes.
And lets be honest weren’t we ALL young and stupid………its part of growing up. I like to think of parenting at your kids age as just keeping them between the lines………NOT molding them. Laken has to be molded he is 4 but the boys are pretty much who they are going to be now its just keeping them on a path
I personally believe in the whippings, berating them and stern punishment to make freaking sure they become what I want them to be………SAID NO GOOD PARENT EVER!!!! There is a huge difference between encouraging your child to meet their potential and bullying them into doing something they don’t want to do just because you want them to do it.
exactly, Robyn. I’m not saying kids don’t need discipline and guidance, but you can’t make empty threats to a 19 year old and call him and his friends stupid and expect to get the results you want. Sigh. He’s freaking 19! We have to let him fail…or succeed on his own, with encouragement not criticism.
Like I said above the time of “discipline” is really over for him. He is 19!!! The time now is to help him find his way……..encourage and guide NOT berate and belittle. That will only cause resentment