Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Do you know the pain of trying to help adult children?

You Are Not Alone!

Every week, we hear from people from all walks of life with all kinds of problems. This is our ministry; it is what we do and we expect exactly what we get.  We have a mercy ministry which means people feel comfortable with us sharing their hurts, concerns and burdens. Then Steve, as a counselor, has had a social work prong to his career which then causes him to direct people to help in the various domains of their lives.  The problems we encounter are similar yet the details of how these destinations are reached can be quite varied.  
Some parents we have encountered have adult children who are doing what they always planned to do and life seems relatively easy and predictable for them.  Unfortunately, as I said, in our ministry, we see the other end of the spectrum; the helplessness that parents feel as they watch the lives of their kids unravel is heartbreaking.  I am going to list some of the difficulties they are dealing with. If you are one of our regular blog readers, you will probably relate on some level with the things I am going to share.
One mom wrote to us about being a young mom. She said the sleepless nights were tough; the unexplained fevers, watching her kindergarten get pushed around by the playground bully, speech therapy and childhood depression were all-encompassing struggles. These were all stressful and hurtful events that created the passage way toward adulthood. “For the first time in my life,” she said, “someone else was walking around on the planet that I would give my life to protect”
I personally recall taking our four little ones to the mall when an older woman said to me, “Honey, these are the best days of your life.” I remember thinking, “You either forget how it was or you had quiet children who sat all day looking at their own hands.”  I was exhausted beyond measure and I knew I would be doing all the same things the next day. But she was right in some respects; those were the fun times and I’m glad I could spend an abundance of time with my little ones. Another parent once told us, “Little children- little problems; big children-big problems.” Perhaps you are a struggling parent of an adult child who is having (or creating) difficulties in adulthood. And maybe you would say, “Hmm, she was right. Those days were cake!”
Again, at Heartfelt the things that we hear are the obstacles; the fears and the realities of a mental health break, unplanned pregnancies, addiction, employment losses, financial setbacks, betrayal, divorce, child support and terminal illness.  Parents are also trying to cope with their kids’ decisions and mistakes that are completely out of their control. Now the problems not only involve one generation; they now involve the next generation; the grandchildren. Those precious ones are just out of the reach of their caring grandparents. Mimi and Papa or Grammy and Grandpa, whatever they call themselves-contribute in minor ways;  they support, love play and teach but mostly they watch from the sidelines – and pray.
I’ve been thinking of how to advise these worried and harried parents of adult children. Here are a few things I think I could say: 

You can’t parent them anymore, they are grown and they don’t need to be smothered or   mothered or any other word that is close. They have made their decisions; they are not the tiny babies who depended on you for life and protection. You don’t want your parents to interfere or inject themselves into your life-neither do they.

    IF they are God’s children HE will deal with them and if not, PRAY that they become God’s children and this will involve God interrupting their lives. When He does, do NOT step between them and HIM!

 Do not-I repeat-do not take the blame for their mistakes, missteps, misbehavior's, misdeeds, mismanagement's, or any of their misguided behaviors. Isn’t your life hard enough to control? Why take on their baggage?  I say with tongue in cheek, unless you drove the get-away car you are not responsible.
 They may smoke weed, they may be sexually preoccupied they may drink too much coffee or too much chocolate milk, so what! It is his or her body. You are not their guardian. Today as these and other potential issues arise, take a giant step backward and watch your adult children handle their next crises. Chances are they don’t even see these things the way you do. They need new hearts, new sensitivity to their choices and they need to embrace their independence. Aren’t you tired of being their bank, their sounding board, their defender, their ego booster and when all else fails, their scape goat?  We should instead say, “We love you kids, but we are going into retirement. Have a nice day and don’t forget to take your meds.”