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When are your kids on their own?
May 14, 2009
11:46 am
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stressed mommie
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I have a problem of not being able to let my kids go. They are 25 & 27 and I still feel responsable for everything that happens to them & their problems are making me a nervous wreck...How do you step back?

May 14, 2009
2:02 pm
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truthBtold
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stressed mommie,

Here's a great poem by Kahlil Gibran, IMO which might help:

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

May 14, 2009
2:06 pm
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sad sack
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Hi Stressed MOM,

Do your adult children still live at home?

Do they hold full-time jobs?

Do they have lives of their own or do they spend much of their free time with you?

Sorry for all of these questions, but I just needed to know a bit more before I added my two cents.

Sad

May 14, 2009
10:07 pm
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bonni
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My children are 12 and 8. I began the process of letting them stand on their own years ago. Babysteps. I was raised on the words of the poem quoted by TBT. I have always held in my head that my role was to guide my children to self sufficiency.

The 8yo makes some decisions now. She can wash dishes and make a bed and fold laundry. I am beginning to let her make mistakes and learn from them.

The 12yo makes many of her own decisions. I concede control where I can and try to only force my will in matters of safety and when its important to me personnally. I am trying very hard to give both wings and roots and a space to spread those wings and build their strength, so that one day she will fly with confidence.

Already, with my tween I feel more like a counselor than a parent. She is almost 13. She plays competitive sports and I do not intercede on her behalf with her coaches. She has confronted them successfully, even though she was scared. I have great confidence in her.

Yes, I am still emotionally invested in the outcomes. But her mistakes are not my mistakes; they are her learning experiences. I am truly and sincerely confident in her ability to make good decisions AND to make bad decisions better.

The truth is that you seem unhappy with the lives your children are building. You might ask yourself WHY this upsets you so much. If your children choose a life you would not have chosen, is it not still their choice? Their actions create their lives. You have very little control and most likely any attempts to control and correct will backfire. They are adults and have to find their own way. You may help them if you choose, but you are under NO obligation to do so. In fact, very often, helping your children can teach them to rely on you rather than themselves. I'm not saying cold turkey, no support, but if you cook them dinner every night, they could internalize that as your saying you don't believe that, left to their own devices, they could even manage to feed themselves.

does this make sense? when I help my 12yo with her homework by giving the answers, her confidence dies. When I ask her questions that help her figure out the answer, she discovers that she CAN figure out the answer. I didn't KNOW she could really, I had to take a little leap of faith.

bonni

May 14, 2009
10:12 pm
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bonni
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By the way, I am 41. When I call my mom for advice, she very frequently responds that she can't tell me what to do. She asks me questions and we discuss it and she wraps up the conversation by saying something like: well, this is a really tough decision you are facing and I know that you will make the very best decision for you and your family.

It really gives me a lot of confidence and she pushed the responsibility back to me, where it belonged, but not without building me up. She says it sincerely and I know she believes I am competent and make good decisions. Except for that one time. And even then, we respectfully agreed to disagree, because she respected that it was my life and my decision to make.

May 14, 2009
11:39 pm
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_anonymous
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stressedmommie- Maybe old patterns of living and relating to your kids might feel familiar and "safe" even if it is really destructive.

May 15, 2009
12:30 am
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Hepburn
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I liked that poem tBt. Thanks for sharing that.

Hep

May 15, 2009
7:01 am
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It No Longer Matters
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StressedMommie, having been one of those children whose mother made every decision for her including what electives to take in school and what to wear and who to be friends with...even though she was an alcoholic...you are not doing your children any favors. For years I would ask peoples "opinion" but what I was really asking was for them to tell me what to do. I did not know how to make a decision for myself. I now remember some of those lightbulb moments and some are so stupid.

1. I lost my mother to alcolism around 17 or 18. I was invited to go swimming with a group of people and at first turned them down because I did not have a swim suit...my mother always bought one and put it in with my clothes. Oh WOW I could go to the store and buy one, but when I got their I had to beg the saleslady to tell me which one to buy.

2. I took 7 years to get my undergraduate degree from college because I could not make a decision and stick with it. My mother had always done that.

I once asked my father what he thought I should do and he told me "I don't know. You are an adult. You make pretty good decsions."

Please, please, please, while you are alive and functioning give your children the gift of knowing they can stand on their own two feet. My father died last year and I have been floundering ever since.

Bitsy

May 15, 2009
5:35 pm
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bonni
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((Bitsy)) I think you are blazing a very nice trail.

May 15, 2009
10:25 pm
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Healing.. and peace
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((Stressed Mom))

I'm the type of mom that is similar to Bonni's Mom, and truly I think it helps our children when they have to face their own decissions and seek out their own answers to their own questions in life.

We do not help our children by doing everything for them, they don't have a chance to grow up if we are always finding solutions to their questions or problems. They don't grow up if we are always providing for them, what they can and are capable of providing for themselves, unless your two children are disabled then by all means their are some exceptions to how much we can do or should do for them. But even then some disabled take very good care of themselves and if they can yours can too.

You ultimately do more for them by not doing anything for them when it comes to them being responsible, and growing up. If they fail at something or fall they are for sure old enought to pick themselves back up and try again, and this is what forces them to grow up on their own, and be the grown adults that you will be proud of once you back off and let them grow up. They must learn from their mistakes, and they may not always do things the way you would or you would prefer but in the long run you will be thankful if you let them grow up by not doing everything for them.

May 22, 2009
8:50 pm
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beebob
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"Let Go and Let GOD"

How many times have I had to do this,

They don't want advice they only want my money..

I have creatived this in my grown children, one daughter 43 years old and a son 34 years old. And grandaughter 23, it sad.
now I have Great Grandchildren

But I know that they have choices and need to live by there choices in life.
I hope one day they just want a healthy relationship.
Beebob

May 23, 2009
8:40 am
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bonni
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Dear Beebob,
I don't know that that is always true. I haven't asked for money from my parents since I got out of college and got my first job, 18 years ago. I highly value my parent's input and perspective. I don't always accept their advice. They accept that, ultimately, I am the only one who can make my life decisions. This allows them to give advice and trust that I will take from it what I need. I respect my parents and I don't want the same things they do.

A healthy relationship is not at the top of my priority list. I had that. I can't wish it back. Now, I have to focus on figuring out what I want. Right now, that is to raise my daughters to be strong, self-sufficient women. While I'm out hoping for a relationship, they will grow up. I think I can be a whole person without being part of a relationship. I think that its important that I find a happy place that isn't dependent on another person.

You are right that raising children is all about letting go. Letting go of the control as they wobble to independence. Building their confidence in their own decision-making. Treating them like valuable persons in their own right, rather than extensions of ones self. Listening to them. Respecting them. And letting them go their own way with your blessing. It is so hard to stand back and watch your child fail, but failure is as important as success, because that is where the hard lessons are.

Money is not the same thing as love. There is a lesson from the birds who nudge their babies from the nest. I don't know if they KNOW the babies will fly or if they just want their nests back. But, as we still have birds, their confidence must be somewhat justified. People are more complex than birds and its not that simple. Its too bad that our culture does such a poor job of building adults.

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