All My Kids Are 18+ So Now What?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hound dog, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    That is a good question, and I thought perhaps a good topic of discussion since so many of the parents in our age ranges that I know seem to be dwelling on this very question.

    Some of us, especially those with difficult children, dream of the day our kids reach that magical age of 18. They are adults. We're no longer responsible for them or their actions.

    But then after we've put in 18 years of 24/7 work attempting to nurish, nurture, guide, and love these kids into responsible productive well adjusted members of society........we find ourselves asking now what? Because let's face it, raising kids was a huge part of our lives for the past 18 or more years.

    And I think for some parents out there detachment is a hard place to get to simply because they became so absorbed into the job of Parent that they forgot who they are as an individual. So they just continue doing what they know and attempt to parent the grown child as usual, which of course the grown child (easy child and difficult child alike) resents, so it creates conflict and the parent frustrated as heck.

    I know that a while back I was asking myself Now What? After 20+ years as a stay at home mom that was a major question for me. My kids, whom I'd worked hard to make independent were now independent of me and I didn't know what the heck to do with myself. :faint: And I went thru some wonderful feelings of not being needed, being worthless, and feeling like I'd lost a major part of myself when I wasn't looking. It didn't seem fair. And for a while I didn't quite know what to do about it.

    Luckily for me being a stay at home mom required me to have other interests to keep me from going brain dead while constantly surrounded by kids 365 days a year. And so I focused on them with a vengence. And I enjoyed them. But it still wasn't enough.

    I need my own identity outside of being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

    So I went back to school to do what I want to do. And while it hasn't always been easy, it's sure been fun. Takes my mind away from my kid's issues and lives and lets me focus on my own. During the process I've been reconnecting with the identity I put on the back burner when I plunged headfirst into being wife and mother.

    Oh, I'm still Mom and Nana, and wife. But having my own life has left me with little time to dwell on things that I really shouldn't be dwelling on, or even concerned with. And silly as it may sound, it's also helped me remember what it was like being my kids ages and just starting out in life. Which helps in our relationships.

    So? How did, or are you, all dealing with the Now What issue?
     
  2. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Not dealing very well at all -

    I thought at SOME point in all of the things I was told to do, did for love, did to help I would get a little "time" to have a normal, loving child that I had before his biofather ruined his future.

    No one can tell me or explain to me that what happened to him as a child does not count to what he's doing today. Yet my x - still alive. And my son for whatever reason despite all the help he got, couldn't /can't accept it and is going to probably be in jail for the rest of his natural born life.

    18 wasn't a magic number for me Daisy - it was like a doomsday clock...He's not any more mature at 18 than he was 13 and yet society gets to treat him like he's an adult without problems.

    I just dont' get how that is fair. I'm okay with the empty nest scenario - but I can't keep dealing with empty nest and crappin' in his own nest scenario. Too much.....18 was not magic for me.
     
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    ((((hugs)))) Starbie, you got a bum deal all the way around. The system failed Dude completely, and you too. And it's not fair, not by a longshot, because you worked your arse off trying to help Dude.
     
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Star...I think I can relate somewhat to how you feel. When I say that I counted down till Cory was 18 it was because he resisted everything we did and that at 18 we were finally no longer held accountable for what he did. It wasnt that I felt he was any more grown on that certain day but finally on that day, everyone stopped saying...ok mom and dad...YOU do something about him. Lord knows if I could have, I would have done it long ago.

    Now as far as Dude and his bio-idiot. I so get where you are coming from there. While I wasnt as abused as Dude, I cant tell you how many times I have screamed and cried that it wasnt fair that I have had to deal with some of the junk I have to deal with simply because my mother did x, y or z to me. Even now something will come up and it leads back to something she did to me. For gods sake...I am borderline because of her! For all I know, Cory is the way he is because of me which is because of her! The Witch! (How is that for circular thinking...lol)

    I dont think I have done a great job of being the parent of adult kids. Of course I didnt think I did a good job of being a parent at all. I just do the best job I can. Most of the time I probably mess it up royally.
     
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Daisy - sorry didn't mean to be such a bummer -

    If I had to pick a name:

    Before Pregnancy: Sexy girl
    After Pregnancy: Happy Mom
    Growing up years: Warrior Mom
    After 18? Hagrid - and look just about like him too. lol (for spell chekers I do know that is hagard, but Hagrid at least loves animals)

    :tongue:
     
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm going through this on a minor scale, since Miss KT is not yet 18, but isn't living here. It seems like all I'm needed for now is to proofread her English papers, buy her clothes, and hand over money. I don't see that changing very much in the next 11 months.
     
  7. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    You pray they move out so that you can run around nekkid like Abbey!!!

    Honestly, I'm still trying to figure it all out. I've given 25 years to parenting. Now, I'm a little lost. I recently looked into volunteering after school. I'm also considering a run for local office. I've got to do something with all this extra time I've got.
     
  8. tawnya

    tawnya New Member

    I'm finding that I am OK with NOT knowing everything that is going on with difficult child. It hasn't been easy...she's been in trouble...the phone harrassment, the bad checks...her dad is in charge now. I had to let it go. She's supposedly getting married next June, and husband said well, it's his problem now. We'll see about that, but until then? I'm trying to breathe. Will the other shoe drop? It always does, but I'm trying to enjoy the time in between.

    Keep your chins up, warrior moms. You don't have any other choice, do you?
     
  9. judi

    judi Active Member

    I went back to grad school and have a more stressful career so that I don't think about difficult child. Hubby took a job 170 miles away so that adds to the stress - lol.

    I also keep my grandson (difficult child's son) as much as possible and that puts much of the pain behind me.
     
  10. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Hmmm...I guess I'm the odd man out. I love my kids, but there was such a sigh of relief when the last left the home. I put in my time trying to guide them as a parent...now it's their to further shape their own lives. As we all know, it can be rough, but those rough times are what make you strong.

    As far as myself - yes, I do run around the house nakey. ;) I don't have to worry about making dinner. I can crank my music in the middle of the night. I can go to a movie that *I* want to see.

    I'm still their parent and will support them, but now is ME time.

    Abbey
     
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Abbey...I think I will totally feel that way WHEN I get the last one out! I do worry a bit about Jamie but I think it is more of a normal parental worry. I dont think about him constantly. I can actually *gasp* go days on end without even having him cross my mind unless something comes up.

    Well that may be a bit of a stretch now because of his impending deployment and I keep getting phone calls from the darn Marines! Not only that I have pictures of the girls all over the house so I have constant reminders but its a normal parent type thing. I will probably be horribly worried about him the whole time he is overseas. Ok I know I will be. But I dont know if that is the same as trying to parent him.

    I do know that the way I deal with him is different than the other two. Of course, Billy is getting to be a whole different ball of wax too. He has come so far in the last year. He is much more a peer than a child so I relate to him more on that level now. I do almost no parenting of him now.

    Cory is our main problem. He is all of our main problem. Somehow he effects this entire family.
     
  12. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Another one with a huge sigh of relief. She doesn't call unless she wants something. She does manage to come visit for a day and leave days later when I fnally tell her it is time for her to go home (except last time when she left in a huff).

    It is so much more peaceful here. I don't have to watch the stupid decisions, the complete sense of entitlement, the drama. I miss none of that. I do miss the occasional chats and silliness. I miss cooking for her.

    All in all, I live MY life now. I get up and don't have to tiptoe around so as not to wake her. I go when I want, where I want. I love her. I love her even more away from home. Works for me.
     
  13. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    I thought when difficult child would be 18 my job growing him up with every bit of mental and emotional strength I have now I could just relax and he would be the person I always wanted him to be. Something like Hi Mom I'm home do you want to go to mcd's and hang out. Noooo, He needs me mainly for money to go out with friends 99% of the time and when instead of school problems now it is car accidents ,girl friends and me struggling to convince him not get involved with drinking with friends and mj . Me dum dum who invested money in old cars only to see him crash them up. I know this sounds stupid in two years I have spent $40,000 on cars for him. I had to not fix one of the cars bc his insurance I was told would go up to $6000. I feel I'm in this big struggle to keep him going to junior college and stay there especially since he has decided to quit his medications. He is convinced that the ritalin and the resperidol the dr had him on has too many side effects to stay on it.He wants no medications So mornings are almost impossible bc of his irratibility and I have to deal a lot with drama and disrespect knowing he would do better on medications but now I see a lot of unfocused activity. Wanting to play about 40 hours a week . It is harder for me to get him to do chores now than it was when he was 10 and he is 18. I want so much to see him on the right path but me wanting it for him does not translate to him picking up the ball. It seems like it is more struggle struggle struggle. Waiting for the phone to ring tick tock tick tock is there trouble ahead. I think the toughest part is that in order to survive they need practical jobs that pay a reasonable salary that are good for his temperament and get into interst groups they feel good about and stay on the right path in life. You cannot make it on your own without this and now he decides all this! But he cannot seem to see what I see. My life is basically going around in circles. I continue on as a unpaid safety officer.Junior fire marshall. That is what I see for the next 5 years at least.
     
  14. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    I thought when difficult child would be 18 my job growing him up with every bit of mental and emotional strength I have now I could just relax and he would be the person I always wanted him to be. Something like Hi Mom I'm home do you want to go to mcd's and hang out. Noooo, He needs me mainly for money to go out with friends 99% of the time and when instead of school problems now it is car accidents ,girl friends and me struggling to convince him not get involved with drinking with friends and mj . Me dum dum who invested money in old cars only to see him crash them up. I know this sounds stupid in two years I have spent $40,000 on cars for him. I had to not fix one of the cars bc his insurance I was told would go up to $6000. I feel I'm in this big struggle to keep him going to junior college and stay there especially since he has decided to quit his medications. He is convinced that the ritalin and the resperidol the dr had him on has too many side effects to stay on it.He wants no medications So mornings are almost impossible bc of his irratibility and I have to deal a lot with drama and disrespect knowing he would do better on medications but now I see a lot of unfocused activity. Wanting to play about 40 hours a week . It is harder for me to get him to do chores now than it was when he was 10 and he is 18. I want so much to see him on the right path but me wanting it for him does not translate to him picking up the ball. It seems like it is more struggle struggle struggle. Waiting for the phone to ring tick tock tick tock is there trouble ahead. I think the toughest part is that in order to survive they need practical jobs that pay a reasonable salary that are good for his temperament and get into interst groups they feel good about and stay on the right path in life. You cannot make it on your own without this and now he decides all this! But he cannot seem to see what I see. My life is basically going around in circles. I continue on as a unpaid safety officer.Junior fire marshall. That is what I see for the next 5 years at least.
     
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Wishing, you if he's over 18, could walk away at this point. I can see why parents continue to support kids who respect them, but you son doesn't respect you. I'm sure he feels far superior to you and will find someone else to scam into giving him what he needs if you cut him off. He can trash anything you give him because he knows you'll just give him another, and all he has to do is stay in junior college. He doesn't appreciate anything you are doing for him.

    You must be unhappy and exhausted. You can have that grown up life of your own that you envisioned. You get to move on even if he doesn't. He doesn't actually have to have a practical job that pays a reasonable salary that's good for his temperament to survive. It would be nice, but it seems unrealistic given the type of lifestyle he is living. I'm sure you worked hard to get what was needed for your family, and like everyone else you kept some jobs that you hated because no one was handing you a free lunch. It feels to me like your idea that he will graduate school and get a great job and become a model citizen is less realistic than that you can realize that your life is your own again because he's an adult and it's time to let him make his own choices.

    Good luck to you. I hope that you will start doing things for yourself. You deserve it. It might help if you talked to someone who was objective and could help you to get back to keeping your life happy and safe.
     
  16. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    easy child 1 is far from a perfect child. He is 20 years old and lives mostly with his fiance. His financial house is a disaster, and getting worse, and his relationship is not in a good place (part of the reason the finances are a disaster). I wish I could help him, but thanks to living with difficult child's, I realize there are some things I can't affect, so I don't try. Handing him money won't help him - he has a good job and very few expenses and can't make ends meet - he just has to learn. I offer advice when he asks, and will offer a hand when he realizes his own contributions to his problems, mainly the financial ones. I think he will get there, but he has to learn it on his own.
    ***
    difficult child 1 - 18 was a magical day because I could no longer be held responsible for his actions, which at the time, were bad. It literally, for me, was survival til he left for boot. When he left, he went to boot, so I knew he was safe, and people on the roads were safe. I had a year of him living in the barracks, where he was somewhat restricted, so I had a year to unwind knowing he was relatively safe. Now he has moved out into a place of his own with his new wife, and while I have no idea what the future holds for him (and it concerns me), he's far enough away that the distance and time have given me a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality about it.
    ***
    I know this is about 18 and overs, but I still have 1.5 in the nest. I worry about easy child 2's future. My fear is that she will have the first grandchild. My hands are seriously tied in what I can do to intervene, so I try to do what I can and let it be where I can't. I worry where she and husband's family will lead my own marriage and future, but I try not to dwell on it.
    ***
    difficult child 2, I am busting my arse to make his future better than his father's, but I am trying to be realistic about it, as well. The deck is stacked against him. Six years ago, when his father walked out, I said to myself its for the best because I don't want to be living the life his mother is, explaining to her daughter-in-law why her husband is a loser. There's a good probability that I will be, anyway. I will keep busting my butt for him, but I also try not to consider his outcome my success or failure - been there done that and its not a good thing. Raising kids, easy child or difficult child, is a lot of hard work and committment, and a whole lot of luck of the draw.
    ***
    I think I will enjoy the empty nest. At least thus far, I remember who I was and what I enjoyed, and I miss that aspect of my life. I worry sometimes that my attitude isn't healthy, but it is what it is, and I am what I am.
     
  17. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    Witzend my difficult child son has uneven strengths and weaknesses. He has a diagnosis of Adhd,yet Due to his perceptual difficulties it takes him longer to get social psychological situations. No I cannot have a life of my own bc
    he would fall through the cracks. I will not force him on his own when my instincts say he cannot make it and no there are no other friends who will take him in. Bc of his very emotional reactions family doesn't want to deal with him in a living situation. If he lives on his own my fear is he will overdose on drugs and I will find him dead. He has told me he was experimenting.He is mentally blind and is fearless in situations that require caution. He needs a thorough neuropsychological evaluation to see how much to expect of him. I have not felt comfortable with the adolescent psychiatrist the last 3 years. medications are up to him. I have a friend with 2 difficult child's and they have been in and out of jail mainly for dui's. I feel for some of us where group homes are not an option there is no help.
     
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I know it's hard, and that you can only do what you are comfortable with. And for you to push - ever so slowly - past your comfort zone, so can he. He will have to one day. The hardest part is realizing that we will not outlive our children.

    My fear is my beautiful daughter being 45 and haggard with no education and no man and hanging around a bar hoping someone is going to rescue her on the remains of her good looks. That's what keeps me from interfering. I suppose in my case, if her dad wasn't paying all her bills plus giving her far more spending cash than I could ever hope for, I might look at today differently. It's tomorrow I worry about.

    Good luck.
     
  19. maril

    maril New Member

    Hi, I'm new here but wanted to jump into the conversation. I have a just about 23yo, who is out of the house, had had some challenges over the years, but she can hold her own, is doing okay. It was a gradual transition to adulthood for her and husband and I are still on board for some stuff, i.e., she's still covered on our auto (she makes payments, albeit don't charge her full cost - she has lots of financial stuff to juggle and just works PT, has her own car) and medical insurance (covered on husband's policy till she finishes up full-time in college this Dec.) and we're here for advice and support for her. Okay, not so bad.

    Now child #2, our DS, 17, is a whole 'nother chapter in our lives. He has struggled and struggled with ADHD and related issues over many years (accommodations to the point permitted at school in place and started taking medication - he is on board for that). The mom's post I quoted above is similar to what I feel about my son. Husband and I have done our best with school issues, behavior issues, even sending him to a counselor, and continue to try other approaches. Now we are concerned about substance abuse, school tardies (have made contacts and are communicating with school as well as have an appointment with a case manager coming up to set up a plan) and are stressed out daily. BUT, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact/need to recognize that even though we will continue to provide him a safe haven, food, shelter, and emotional support, we must pass the consequences of his actions on to him - not enable him - and I have stressed this to him (he repeatedly and purposely misses his bus; breaks curfew frequently; we suspect substance abuse; there are many confrontations and tempers flaring at home). Believe it or not, his grades are above average/average right now (he had been failing previously) but it is only the beginning of the school year. :D

    It is nice to come here and read about and learn from others with teenagers and adult children. I frequent another site for families dealing with ADHD, but on those boards, it appears there are not too many in the same boat as our family; many of the posters have younger children and different issues than us, as well many of the posters are adults with ADHD, not in the same situation as we are; however, I have learned a thing or two from those folks and am supportive of their actions as parents.
     
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