Laying groundwork for children. Not laying groundwork for adults.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, May 17, 2015.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I think this is one of the hardest things to "get" about our dcs. When they were babies, children, young was OUR JOB to lay groundwork for them. We facilitated. We orchestrated. We managed. We set up opportunities. We talked to teachers, coaches, doctors, other parents...that was OUR JOB. As good parents.

    Then, as they got older, OUR JOB was to let them go, little by little, into the world of adulthood.

    I have two sons. One grasped that transition and began to take on more and more responsibilities.

    The other son didn't.

    I didn't understand it. So...what did I do...I laid more groundwork. I thought, well he is immature/lazy/slow to launch/needs more time/I've babied him too much/product of divorced parents/introverted/ I said, I'll facilitate more, not less, and THEN he will start do catch on.

    I did more and more, and it got worse and worse.

    One day I sat up and looked back (completely miserable and without resources, I was a mess!) and realized years had gone by and not only had nothing changed, it was much much worse.

    And I started learning how to let go. I started learning that his was not about me/my parenting/anything I had one ounce of control over.

    It didn't matter what the diagnosis was. I had to stop. For me and for him to even have the prayer of a chance.

    Then the real work began and still continues today.
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  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    That is the key phrase.

    If what we are doing is actually making things better, then we are on the right track. If it is making things worse... we have to change, and sometimes that just means learning to let go.
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  3. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Great post COM!!

    I think it's just the "MOM" in us that makes us continue to do things for our adult children. We don't want to see them struggle or suffer. It's such a fine line as to when to stop "helping" them, there's always that "this will be the last time, I just know things will change this time" and then again, and again.

    Yes, this is exactly what happens.

    The only way for us and our Difficult Child to survive is to let go. We need to let go.
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  4. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    COM -- Nailed it! It really is a tricky balancing act moving from being fully in charge of our young kids to being not at all in charge of our adult kids. Autonomy is always the goal of parenting. I know this is true for all parents. However, for those of us with troubled kids, the ante is definitely up a notch.
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  5. hopeandjoy66

    hopeandjoy66 Member

    It is very hard when the Difficult Child displays a little bit of change. I see this to be so true with Difficult Child's mom. I don't see it as change, I see it as something he wants us to hear(for me there would have to be a lot more for me to even have an iota of hope) I am tired of wasting my hope. I know bad attitude.
    Difficult Child's mom perceives anything as "he is changing". So the merry go round continues ....again.
    It is hard for me to understand why she doesn't see what we see. Why she doesn't try something different. To me it only makes sense.You would think that after 13 years of doing the same thing without any results would be a wake up call. When will she hit bottom?
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hope and joy...I used to ask the same thing about Difficult Child's dad. I was able to stop, for the most part, way before he was able to stop. Why?

    In his case, he had a lot of guilt about being an alcoholic himself, and confusion about "one alcoholic helps another, always". He was also dealing with his own childhood and growing up in a very dysfunctional household, his own dad an abusive alcoholic. My ex was never physically abusive.

    Anyway, during our divorce, which was very acrimonious, I told him he had not been a good dad. I'm sure that really stung, and I was wrong in every way to say that.

    Anyway, finally, I had to let go of that too. It was painful to know that as hard as I was working to stop enabling, somebody else was working just as hard to enable. I was afraid and mad and you name it.

    People get it when they get it and not one minute before. I have learned that the hard way.

    There is no rhyme or reason to it. You can only hope and pray that she gets it before the Difficult Child is completely lost.

    Very hard stuff, this is.
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  7. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    @hopeandjoy66 , I completely get this.

    In the beginning with my son I used to go through the "I know things will change this time and again, and again." He was still young and I thought, this counselor will make a difference, or this program will, I had so much naive hope back then.

    I did finally realize that my hope was empty and that he was not going to change.

    And then my Difficult Child fine tuned his manipulative skills. There was a period of time I really thought he was getting it together and in the words of Gomer Pile, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Boy was I fooled.

    I wanted so much to believe that he was finally getting his act together and was going to be a productive part of society. In reality, he was only "acting" out what he knew I wanted to see. He also knew that as long as it "appeared" that he was trying, that I would help him. He had gotten a job and was talking the talk but not walking the walk. It got to the point that he could no longer keep up the act and his "true" nature took over.

    I finally had to let go of my son and any hopes that I held onto that he would live a life that "I" thought he should. I had to accept that he was living the life that "HE" wanted to live.

    We all have to come to this realization in our own time and unfortunately, I think there are some that never will.
    It makes me think of the 82 year old mother who's 60 year old son or daughter still lives at home because they can't get it together and that 82 year old mother still takes care of them because that's her "baby". For some this is just how it will be.
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hope is a slippery slope for me. I know I am in the minority when I say that, but for me, giving up hope was necessary. I had to replace that hope, or how it shows up for me is, expectation, with trust. Trust that things will turn out in the way they are meant to turn out and I have no control over that. As a former/recovering enabler, perfectionist and controller, lack of trust was what I was usually dealing with. Trusting life and accepting life are lessons I continue to learn. The journey with my daughter took me a long way down that road.

    I think it's easy for parents of troubled kids to forget that we are not in charge anymore. We get taken on a different ride and we have to try way harder to remember that autonomy is the goal. Instead of feeling good when we separate from healthy, thriving, 'launching' kids, we are riddled with all kinds of parental guilt so I think we hold on tighter.

    That sense of it somehow being about our parenting is what can really keep us stuck for a long time. We can then continue to keep doing more to "fix" it to take ourselves off the 'hook' so to speak........when it is not our 'hook' to begin with.

    All of this is really hard. And yet, it helps to know that it isn't a life sentence, that we can indeed recover, heal, learn, grow and find peace of mind regardless of what our kids, or anyone is doing or not doing.
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  9. plymouthmom

    plymouthmom New Member

    I can so relate to what everyone has said on this post. I felt guilty because I felt I was not parenting well enough for my difficult child. My solution of giving more was actually the problem. My son needed me to say no. I do now but often times have all these negative emotions later. I just try to work through them or not pay attention to them. I need to have boundaries with my son and say no more often than not.
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  10. Seeking Peace

    Seeking Peace Member

    I agree about the whole being on the hook and feeling like it's my parenting....doesn't help when other parents point the finger at you too...

    The reality is, those other parents truly just don't know any better. I might react the same way had my child not been so difficult. I only am bothered by the comments because deep down I do feel responsible. Even knowing better. Knowing what all we've tried. Knowing it hasn't changed a thing.

    The what if versus the what is.

    I've been seeing my therapist for two years solely about my guilt and struggle with my Difficult Child. Yet, I will say, I feel like I've gotten so much more insight to my behaviors and the way I cope through all of you!

    It's wonderful to learn others have the same struggles! Others KNOW exactly how I feel. To not feel like I'm all alone and just down right depressed. Thank you to all of you! You're a God send.
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am feeling this as a failure of hope for myself.

    I began to believe my hope was empty and I was not going to change.

    I do not trust in my own capacity to solve or get over this. In myself. That I could not make my relationships right, that I have failed. And with this I have lost confidence in myself.

    On some level I believe I failed my mother, my son and myself. I have lost faith in my instincts and my abilities to do the right thing...for my heart.

    Each time I try to go on for myself, and I hesitate, because of a feeling that comes up I think I must label it, "I should never have trusted her." And the her, is me.

    I am struggling here, I see, with doubt over how I have lived. So, of course, I would doubt myself going forward. But why would I? I did the best I could in circumstances I did not control

    I see that I am taking over responsibility for my Mother and my son. My Mother certainly made choices that affected our relationship. And my son, as yet, has his chance.

    I do not know how to detach from the sense of responsibility for EVERYTHING. And the sense of guilt when I cannot do it. Or have not done it. I can let go of hope. But I cannot seem to let go of responsibility.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015
  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Copa, you are being to hard on yourself. You did the best you could with your son and mom. There is nothing more that you can do for them. You owe it to yourself to be good to YOU, to live the best life you can. You deserve to be happy. Forgive yourself for whatever it is that you think you failed at. We are not perfect people, no one is. We make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them and move on.
    ((HUGS)) to you!!
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  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Copa, as you well know in your mind, we just aren't perfect. We don't have all the power. We can't control other people. We can barely control ourselves. We can only do the best we can do, in any given situation, and it will be far from perfect.

    Accepting that....for we very strong, resilient, resourceful people (men and women alike) a life's work.

    In every other single thing in our lives, we have affected change. But not with people. It doesn't work.

    But like a battering ram, we beat our head over and over and over again against a brick wall and lose all sense of reason about it. We try harder. We try something different. We do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

    Until the day we lay it all down, and say: I give. Something has to change.

    And then the real work begins.

    Yep. You know this. Now, living into it is what comes next and it is hard hard work with a lot of back steps. But that's okay too.

    Compassion for ourselves has to come first, before we can accept other people, even homeless drug addicts who choose to live on the street. It's their choice. It's their choice. It's their choice.

    As the oldest of four, Mommy's little helper, I had to grow up super fast starting when I was 6 and my sister was diagnosed with an incurable disease.

    I learned how to get it done, baby. Boy, could I!

    My dad is a Super Type A, and he valued...accomplishment.

    I learned that to get his approval, I had to accomplish.

    Boy, could I!

    I had a double-whammy, a triple-whammy. I used to marvel at myself, even. I could move mountains. I never gave up. Never. Watch me work, baby! Just stand back...and watch and applaud.

    Until I met the 40-foot-tall monster I call Alcoholism and Addiction. I had finally met my match, but it still took me YEARS to see it...and then MORE YEARS to accept it. I was even gonna beat that one too, especially when my precious, precious youngest child was in the grip of that evil monster. You don't think Momma wasn't gonna win? Again, just watch me. the grace of God, I had some preparation from dealing with my ex-husband's disease, and so the time was shorter for me to surrender. To accept my own powerlessness.

    The walk has been very long, and humbling and hard, and ultimately, healing.

    I couldn't cure my little sister, I couldn't make my dad's temper to away, I couldn't save my own marriage, and I couldn't save my precious son.

    I couldn't. But I'm still a worthy person, and I see myself so much more realistically and clearly and with compassion today. I mess up a lot, and that's okay. I can do better next time.

    I am so grateful for this road and for continuing to walk it. Without it, I would still be expecting myself to be SuperWoman. And that is a lonely lonely, impossible person to be.