So when does the parenting end? When is the cut-off date? You tell me. Does it end after your child reaches age eighteen when he is either preparing to go to higher education or electing to skip that portion of schooling and jump right into the fray? Does a parent at that point step back and cross fingers with a prayer that their child will make it through the dangers awaiting them out there in the big dark world? Without you to protect him or rescue him? Can we cut it off like that?
Or do we continually come to the rescue even during their adult life, hoping like hell that they will one day learn how to take care of themselves and create a happy, painless, productive life?
I didn't have the answers, I'll admit it. And after all these years, I still don't. I've read almost all there is to read on the subject, I've discussed it till I'm blue in the face with friends, teachers, and qualified experts on family relationships. I was told 'tough love' is the answer. And yes, I did apply that at one point. It worked for a little while. Worked for me, but nobody else. Got a lot of flack from my family, saying I was not doing enough, and of course the problem was still there even after I gave all I had to give. My eventual avoidance and ignoring the problem didn't make it go away either, I had no clue how to fix it, and still don't. It is not ours to fix others, only to fix ourselves. I keep repeating that to myself.
Many women I know have been through this with their families, and many more will go through it time and time again. I have friends who have lost their sons and daughters to drugs or alcohol, crime or prostitution. It hasn't always been a parent who was neglectful or absentee either, so that is not always the cause. There are those of us who have loved our children through thick and thin - the thick and thin of our own personal trials and tribs - and maybe we haven't been the model parent because of that, and have had to work to support ourselves and our children, and maybe we haven't been the parent our children feel we should have been, but then who is?
It seems in this day and time, the offspring of the '60s and '70s are less respectful of their parents than ever before. Maybe respectful is the wrong word, but let's use it as a word that describes love and admiration that one has for another. I grew up with respect for both of my parents. I didn't always agree with them and sometimes I felt like I wanted to run away, to escape them, one time I did. But I respected them. And in later years even more so than before. It seemed we became closer as I got older and began to understand where they were coming from, began experiencing what they had. I respected them. I've said many times in later years that they were right about almost everything they tried to drill into me. My parents were super religious, I wasn't. But that wasn't a major difficulty between us, as it turns out. They softened on their stance as they grew older. Our problem was my interest in the guys. And I gave my parents much headache and heartache over that. It was my problem for many years. But it finally came to an end, wasn't an issue anymore. As I reached my 50s, we learned to deal with it. You see, as I got older I began to understand where they were coming from, and I respected their opinions.
Is that the key? Should parents just sit by and wait for that day to come? Our children growing old? Should we just live in another country till we're old enough then come home and have the respect of our children? Is that the answer? Well, I truly wonder if it's really worth it. Why do we have to have it? Why not just let them go their way and do whatever. Keep our distance, not get involved. After all we've spent most of our lives making the effort.
I've had this discussion with other women my age and older and they all feel the same ... sometimes the kids will never appreciate the journey their parents have taken with them or for them, the care and helpfulness they've given. The kids are ensconced in their own worlds now and don't have the time or inclination to be concerned or caring for their parents. The cord has been cut as far as they are concerned. And yes, that is true in a sense.
So, are we remiss in worrying about our grown children? How they are treated by their spouses? How they treat their spouses and children? What their bad habits are? How they live and work? How they spend their money?
Or should we just say fogettaboutit and not give it another thought ... just get on with our own solitude and peaceful lives without the drama? Actually that doesn't sound bad at all. I definitely would like to be devoid of family drama.
Okay, so maybe that's the answer for we elders who brought children into this world, grown children that are now on a course unto themselves. Yes! That's it! That is it! Yes!!!! FOGETTABOUTIT!
P.S. To those of you who have respectful kids ... I salute you! Not that I don't have respectful kids, "I'm just sayin,'" as sister Martha always sez, and "LIVE, LAUGH, AND LOVE!!!! YOWZAAAAA!"