Having kids and letting them find their way in life is no easy feat! We spent most of their childhood rushing in to take care of them when they stumble and fall, some parent never learn the art of 'not rushing' in. Sometimes it is best for the child to stumble and learn to find their own balance, to find ways to soothe their own boo boo's.
I recently received an email from a total stranger who somehow stumbled across an old entry of mine called Blame Game. She has a 42 year old son with self imposed problems, (not medical in nature) and for some reason asked me for my take on her story. The only thing I could offer her, is to not let guilt help you enable your child. I was raised with the 'Tough Love' technique and I am raising my own children with the 'Tough Love' technique and let me tell you it's not easy to do all the time, I still hurt when they hurt but I have to let them find their own way in life, I am not always going to be around to rush in and save them. So teaching them to rely on themselves is the best gift I can ever give them.
My 19 year old daughter, Amanda graduated from High School last year, my expectations of her were to either continue her education or seek full time employment while deciding what she wants to do with the rest of her life. My only other requirement was that she clean up after herself while she lives in my house. This worked for a couple of months, then she decided to quit her job and not tell me. I know my children, I knew she was without a job even though she left the house on her old work schedual (sneaky huh?) so I called her on it, she told me the truth and said that she would get another job ASAP. 4 weeks had gone by with one application and no interviews, she for some strange reason thinks to wait until she hears from one place of potential employment until she seeks another........WRONG!
I gave her a dead line that she had to have some kind of employment by a specific date or she could no longer live here (home with all the perks) Small jobs are plenty in my area, she just feels she is too good to work at a few (we all know that syndrome don't we!) lol The deadline came with no other future prospects or attempts at looking for a job so I booted her, and guess what? She liked being homeless, she has found another of her peer groups who are jobless but their Mommy and Daddy don't worry so she's having a ball living freely, with no rules. She has no bills right now and all she wants to do is have fun!
This is not sitting well with me, but she is 19 and not living under my roof so what can I do about it? absolutely nothing! I'm "TOUGH LOVing" it. She cannot ask me for gas money, or for hand outs! She wants something she has to work for it, just like I along with other people of the world had to do. I would not be doing her any favors by giving in now and saying poor baby! Their are plenty of reasons that I could find to do so, but in the end I would not really be helping her, I would be enabling her to feel sorry for herself and in the end society would end up supporting her and not herself.
In her month or so of being homeless and yes there were some nights she slept in her car with her friends, she is now realizing it is not so fun anymore, she's not getting the rest she needs, her belly has gone hungry and she now is ready to become part of the society that provides for themselves. She cannot return to the nest without a job and a start date.
I know that there are going to be a lot of people out there that don't agree with my choice of tough love, but believe me when I say this, it's tougher on the one doling out the tough love! I as a mother, as a parent want to rush in and save her, save her from herself if I had too, but in the end I would not be doing her any favors now would I? I am not going to be on this earth forever, she has to start living her life and take care of herself. I have instilled that in her all through her informative years, this is nothing she needs to learn, she just needs to apply it now.