Tuesday, August 6, 2013
IT AIN'T EASY: PARENTING, AND BEING, ADULT CHILDREN
Knowing how to parent our adult children is tough, is it not? Knowing just when to offer help, and when we need to back off? And, just when you think you've got it figured out, you realize that what worked well with one kid isn't working at all with the next one! There's only one thing harder -- learning to BE an adult child.
There were four kids in my family, and since my parents weren't in the habit of handing out spending money, we started earning our own as soon as we were old enough to babysit, or in my brother's case, dig ditches for my dad. The day I turned sixteen, I was out beating the bushes, looking for a part-time job. I opened my own checking and savings accounts when I got my first paycheck and, from that point on, I paid for all my own school stuff, made all of my own clothes, and saved up enough money to put myself through college. When I moved to Austin, to attend UT, my bank statements continued to be mailed to my parents' address. When I came home at Thanksgiving and discovered that my father had been opening them, to check and see that I was "spending my money wisely", I just about blew a gasket! He was quite shocked at my reaction. Apparently he had always done that with my older sister Kathy, and it hadn't bothered her in the least.
Within a few weeks of my graduation, I had married and moved to Indonesia. I never had to worry about them treating me like a child, or poking their nose into my business, again. My siblings, who all stayed close to home, were not so fortunate. There were, however, some tradeoffs for all of this freedom and independence.
My parents never offered to babysit for us, picked up my kids from school, or took care of a sick kid so I wouldn't have to miss work. They never offered to give my kids a ride, when I needed to be three places at once. They have never visited when we were sick or in the hospital. They have never done yard work, repairs, or remodeling for us. The have never lent us money or helped us to move. Even when we moved back to Dallas -- when the kids were about ten and thirteen, I was back in school but still working part-time, and my hubby was out of the country more than he was home -- they still never offered to lend a hand. I guess they just assumed I had it all figured out by then, and didn't need or want any help, and of course, I was too proud and stubborn to ask. But at least I didn't have to put up with unsolicited advice, right?
Ahhhhh, if only we could have our cake, and eat it too!