A Mother’s Dilemna

I’ve probably written about this before, but it’s on my mind so here it goes again.

Mother’s Day…I like it. However, it brings up so many mixed feelings.  You know how parenting magazines are all about taking care of little ones and keeping them safe? I want one that talks about taking care of teenagers and young adults, and what you’re supposed to do when a situation comes up.  When they get that age, emotion has to be set aside and logic used. What you emotionally want to do sometimes is directly opposite of the logic.  What you did for them as little kids, the protection, the coddling and organic foods and careful tending…that doesn’t work when they’re teens and young adults, and you never hear that. You never…well I never did, anyway…see a Parents of People With Minds Of Their Own magazine.

They get to this point where…you have to let go. you don’t want to. You want to keep them safe and fed and content,but doing that does not help them. It stifles them. Even when they don’t see it that way. You don’t want them to hate you so you do whatever you can so they won’t hate you but that isn’t what they NEED. I hate that. It hurts. I don’t like hurting. It’s also not easy. I hate that too. I like easy. But easy isn’t best, or good for you or them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my older sons. I don’t like calling them children or kids, because they aren’t. They are young men. Letting go is tough.

And where’s the rulebook? Where’s the guide that says “if this, then that?” How do you let your adult children be adults?

I think you just…let them be adults. Even when they don’t really want to. Give them the space to make decisions, good or bad. Put them out there,shove them out of the nest like a bird, and hope they fly? Boy that’s a tough one, but how would they ever figure out how to fly if you don’t?

Anyway…I am both amused and resentful that there’s no parenting support out there (that I can find…do you know of one) beyond the organic juice boxes and Dr. Seuss. It’s kind of like society says if you can keep them alive until they’re 10, you’re on your own.  And frankly, I think parents of teens and young adults need MORE help than the ones of little kids.  God know I did, and I didn’t have it beyond “Oh…you have teens? Make them memorize scripture and rebuke them when they’re bad.”  Say what?

The best I can do is the best I have done, even though it hasn’t been that great. I love them,I feed them, and each morning is a new day where grudges and resentment are forgotten…sort of. There’s stress…oh my word there’s stress. I haven’t seen a magazine that tells you how to deal with that sort of stress that comes from your kid acting like he hates you one minute then needing you the next and you’re wondering when he’s going to hate you again.  I have my own coping mechanisms that come in a big bottle of chilled white wine, a bit of talk therapy, and occasionally pharmaceuticals. Probably not the best way, but it’s how I roll.  Do you know how hard it is to pray for someone when you’re so tense your ears are ringing? The only coherent prayer I can form is “God help me…”

I need a group. I need a group of women who’s children have broken their hearts and scared them and made them wonder what they did when the child was 4 that resulted in this.  I want them to still be there, still wondering. And I want a couple or three women who’ve been there and survived,who can say it may or may not be ok, but it is possible to survive and not feel this tension and fear, to simply love them, those sons and daughters who have taken a path that I don’t understand.

I googled it, to see what’s said out there about mothers of adult children, and what I got was stuff about adults abusing their mothers, and about how to deal with a terrible mother when you’re an adult.  Nothing about how to love your adult children, how to guide them when they don’t want your guidance, or how to show them you love them when they think you don’t.

I will always love them. Always. But I don’t always understand.

Lord,give me the wisdom to love my children the way You want me to, and the courage to do it.


About rootietoot

I do what I can.
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8 Responses to A Mother’s Dilemna

  1. Peggy, have you checked out any of Lou Priolo’s or any of the other books on parenting in the bookshelves at church? There are I think one or two on parenting teens there. “A Heart of Anger” has a picture of a child on the cover, but it’s good for parents of children of all ages and it’s a good one. Much of what you google is going to give you the world’s answers and that’s just opposite of what you need anyway. We have such a rich counseling ministry at the church, and it’s designed for just these sorts of things. It takes time and encouragement and the peace of God to suffer through these things well, and this is where the church can be of help to you, not just in books but in seeking God’s wisdom and ways instead of the world’s. Love you!

    • rootietoot says:

      Thanks, Barbara, I’ll look!

    • rootietoot says:

      I did some more digging in the internet, and there’s some stuff out there (not much, but some)-books etc. Ruth Bell Graham has a book that look promising.

      • That’s good. It’s just so important to make sure that they approach it by addressing the heart and not just Christianized behavior modification. I have yet to meet even one parent (of teens or adults) in our church who hasn’t dealt with teenagers with their own minds (myself included). There is plenty of good biblically-based, Christ-centered support to be had.

  2. Bella Rum says:

    The hardest part of parenting, by far, is when they break away into adulthood and independence. It’s a struggle for them and for us. I once read a novel. An American woman with adult children was walking down a street in France and thinking to herself how women never tell other women the truth about “breaking away.” How painful the separation from a child can be when they have to… must… separate and become independent adults. It isn’t pretty. And there isn’t enough information about it.

    They have to flounder and we have to watch. The alternative is a kid who never moves out, who never stands on his own, but they flounder and flounder at first. Sometimes kids break away gently and sometimes it’s harsher. Mine was harsh. He really BROKE away. It took a few years before we were back on track. Jump forward sixteen years and three grandchildren later… I’m telling him about a friend’s son who is not talking to his mother and my son says, “I can’t imagine that. How could anyone do that to their parents.” 🙂 Oh, how time and children of one’s own changes one’s perspective.

  3. Have the T-shirt says:

    I can relate to the feelings you’ve expressed because I certainly went through them myself. I like what Bella has to say because it is so true.

    “They have to flounder and we have to watch. The alternative is a kid who never moves outs, who never stands on his own…”

    It is so hard to stand by and watch the floundering, and yet, that is part of our responsibility as parents; to let them flounder and find their own path.

    It adds a whole new dimension when you also have to deal with mental illness as I did with my youngest son. And then there’s this lousy economy poured on top of it all.

    These are tough times and this is a generation of children who had so many more advantages. We gave them so much, but expected so little in return. Often they are ill prepared for the ways of the world.

    But eventually they have to stand on their own two feet. We have to give them that gentle push (or forceful shove), and like baby birds pushed out of the nest by their mother, they eventually learn to fly.

    Watching them hit the ground repeatedly is hard though.

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