When my kids were small it was easier in some ways. I carried all of the responsibility for their well being, but I also carried the power to make most, though not all, of their hurts better. When the problems were skinned knees and bullies, unkind words and an unwillingness of others to share or do things their way, I knew the answers, or at least enough of them to be able to ease their hurt feelings and patch their scrapes and bruises. A snuggle and a bedtime story went a long way back then to making the world right for them again. Now all of a sudden, at 14 and 18 none of it works. The parenting decisions I have to make with these almost grown babies of mine are choices between what might work and what might not work. There are no absolutes, no concrete thing I can say or do to help them right their own worlds anymore. More often than not I have to decide between telling them some truth that I know will hurt and the hurt they will experience if they delude those truths and make choices without an ability to see clearly the situation. So often now I find myself lying awake in bed in the small hours of the morning wondering how to ever find the balance between honesty and kindness, between what IS good for them and what only FEELS good to them. I hate that I can see when those two aren't necessarily the same thing.
I have talked a lot about my son the last few posts, and while that is in the back of my mind while I write this, what I am really talking about is my 18 year old daughter. She flipped her lid at me last week over my requirement that she clean up after herself while living here at home and decided to move in with her boyfriend and his parents. She decided this all in the matter of a few hours. I have struggled for some days now with a mixed bag of emotions about what has been going on. I am constantly torn between being frightened for her as I know she is not even close to being able to support herself financially or emotionally, and being angry at her for thinking that it is okay to just move on to someone else's parents because your own want you to be responsible for your decisions and mistakes and their consequences. I know that she is confused and afraid. I know that she doesn't want to disappoint me and at the same time she is frightened that her relationship with her boyfriend won't last if they don't live in the same place. I also know that there is nothing, including my own peace of mind that I wouldn't give up in a second to erase all these fears and problems from her heart. But there isn't a way, and even if there was, I wouldn't know where to start...
So the problem that I have is this: Is it wrong for me to pressure her to come home and take responsibility for herself gradually over the next few weeks, making a plan and working towards it to enable her to be able to move out on her own in careful measured way that will help ensure her success independently from us or her boyfriend? I don't want her to never leave, well my heart wants that in some tiny minuscule way, but really I just want her to soar! Ten years from now when she looks back on the first time she struck out on her own I want her to be proud of the way she did it. I want her to move on from us in a way that lets her have confidence in her ability to take care of herself. What I don't want is for her to come back here in a few months when the financial pressures and emotional pressures of living under a new set of family rules get to her and her bf , feeling crushed and defeated by her inability to create the changes that she wants for herself. So how much of this do I share with her? Where is the line between wanting her to see things more clearly and giving her a guilt trip to try to lead her to a better decision? How much of our relationship am I risking when I tell her the things she doesn't want to hear, no matter how much she needs to hear them?
Needless to say I miss the old problems...the ones I knew how to solve.
The Vigil for Hank