This is #3 in the Series, “Should we Help our Adult Children?”
Read #1 and #2 first, please.
Yesterday I left off with: “There was one defining moment that set my course for the rest of our parenting for when they were all adults.”
Let me tell you about that moment.
When our older kids were in college, they all came home from college for Easter one year and I found myself falling into the crisis repairing stage with one of them during those few days. At the end of the week, I’d realized that short vacation was gone and I’d not had many good moments with the ones that weren’t in crisis. I’d spent all my time trying to put out a fire that eventually just re-ignited anyway.
So basically I had chosen the one in crisis over the ones that were not. I felt like the worst parent in the world. I decided right then that I would NEVER do that again. Never again would I put a troubled adult ahead of one that was not. I worked at repairing and protecting my CIRCLE from that day on. I have determined to surround myself with those who consistently love and respect me, make a genuine effort to do right, and try to live a good and peaceable life.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be there for those who were in trouble or need me. But I will always carefully consider my priorities and strike a better balance. Now that all of my kids are over 18, I do not feel I have any obligation to disrupt, ignore or put off anyone in my CIRCLE for anyone outside of it. If that offends you, go back and read my definition of CIRCLE. It is what it is and I don’t apologize for it.
It is the only way to have peace and be happy when you have difficult kids who choose to live a self-destructive lifestyle or constantly find themselves on SHAKY GROUND due to bad decisions. I will not risk losing those in my CIRCLE ever again. Nor will I pressure those in my circle to join me when I reach outside of it to help someone in crisis. That is for them to decide. For me to do any of that would be choosing to walk the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION or the very least to be on SHAKY GROUND with those in my CIRCLE.
- Does this adult child who is on SHAKY GROUND use gifts (time, money, advice, compassion) wisely and learn by example and through personal experience? In other words, would you be throwing your pearls before swine?
- Does this adults child that is on SHAKY GROUND treat you with respect in private and public? Do they show appreciation when you help them? Do they only “love” you when you give them things?
Have you ever given money to a person for a bill and they turned around and spent a bunch of money on unnecessary “stuff”?
We have an obligation to not be an enabler.
An example of an enabler would be a wife who covers up for her husband who is a drunk or an abuser. She fears losing her home, her security and even her life if she speaks up and asks for help.
Moms and dads feel this pressure too. BUT if we enable those adult kids through giving and giving and then giving some more when they just squander our gifts, how are we helping them to break the cycle of irresponsible living and bad choices? Wouldn’t it be better for them to fail and learn from their mistakes? Sometimes it takes many mistakes for them to learn, but let’s not put off their learning by fixing their problems for them.
Do we not have an obligation to be good stewards?
Might we not fail ourselves if we don’t make wise choices? Does our obligation of being a good example end when our kids turn 18? Do we not influence everyone around us? Are we exempt from the consequences of our wastefulness? Is it OK to waste our money on those who will squander it?
Before you help any of your kids on a grand level, look at who they are. Are they kind and respectful? Are they hard working and responsible? Are they givers themselves and generally live right and strive to be a blessing to others? Do they make wise decisions and put forth their best effort? Is the need genuine? Did they arrive at this need through bad decisions?
Remember the quote, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Let this guide you.
I’ll leave you to contemplate.
Read the final entry in this series tomorrow…
#3 in This Series (You are here)
#4 in Series