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In many families, this works out fine—the adult child is responsible and contributes to the household while they set themselves up to live independently. In part 2 of this series on adult children, Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner explain why some kids choose to stay home instead of launching into the world.
According to Kim and Marney:.
They have worked with families for decades to help them resolve the most difficult child behavior problems. In part 1 of this serieswe looked at how society has changed its views and approaches to parenting. Over the past few generations, our culture has increasingly encouraged parents to do things for their children that their kids should be doing for themselves. In other words, society has moved from caring for our children to caretaking.
As a result, many parents find themselves solving problems for their children long into adulthood. How did this happen? Many couples want to share the bond of having and the joy they picture of becoming a family. Sometimes, teens or young adults believe that having is a rite of passage into adulthood.
Sure, there are still accidental pregnancies. But more often than not, the choice to become a parent is primarily based on emotion.
Today’s parents expect their kids to fulfill their emotional needs
Yes, they can bring great joy, but they can also bring great pain and frustration. Children are messy, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise, and often require parents to make great sacrifices. And since we have children out of emotion, we tend to parent out of emotion as well.
As parents, we want our children to be happy, confident, and secure. We hate to see them suffer, and we will do anything we can to take that pain away.
Indeed, we would rather go through something painful ourselves than watch our children experience it. Many of us remember our own childhood pain as we watch our children struggle to find their way in this world.
We empathize with our son when he comes home crying because no one would play with him at recess.
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As their child grows, parents start to develop certain emotional buttons. When pressed, these buttons tend to move us into caretaking mode. For example, if you find yourself worrying about your child quite a bit, you likely have a strong emotional fear button. You enter caretaking mode from fear of anything negative happening to your. You fear that your child will fail in school. You fear your child will abuse substances or engage in other dangerous activities.
Perhaps you fear your child will be hurt by others, either emotionally or physically. And, you might even fear your child will hurt someone else. To allay this fear, we tend to take too much care of our children. Over time, children learn what our emotional buttons are and how to work them in certain situations.
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Most of us have more than one emotional button that our children learn to push. Many adult children who have difficulty launching have learned to rely on one or both parents as their source of financial support. The adult child still needs money for haircuts, clothes, a car, insurance, medical services, a roof over their head, and food to eat. Or, what we like to call the Parent ATM.
An adult child can make a career out of earning income from his parents by pushing their emotional buttons. Push the right buttons, and the cash starts flowing. Slug is 32 years old. He looks online sometimes but never follows through by calling a potential employer. He says he needs gas money to get to a job interview that never materializes into employment.
He simply refuses to do anything until his parents are tired and frustrated enough to give Slug what he wants rather than argue anymore. Clueless is a year-old adult child living with his parents. He has been to four different universities in the past six years but is still only a sophomore because he never completes his courses.
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So far, his parents have shelled out thousands of dollars supporting his lifestyle. He threatens to sell drugs for a living or go live off the land if his parents stop supporting him.
He convinces his parents that their continued help will soon enable him to succeed. In fact, he has no intention of ever leaving the nest. Carefree is a year-old adult child who lives with her mother, along with her three-year-old baby. Carefree still acts like a teenager. She leaves her baby at home with her mother while she goes out with friends. Sometimes she parties and stays out all night. She has a part-time job but never seems to have enough money to pay for bills.
She does, however, have money for clothes, cigarettes, and alcohol. Her mother pays for all her haircuts, daycare, the car she drives, and the insurance. She reminds her mother how hard and lonely she had it growing up in a single-parent home, and how she never got to be a teenager because she had to care for Attractive separated 27yo man seeks distraction younger siblings.
Or, better yet, she suggests letting her ex-boyfriend—the father—have custody. Meet Clinger. His parents are terrified of what would happen to Clinger in the real world, which also engages their Fear PIN. Instead, his parents, out of symathy, work it for him. Meet TNT. He yells, breaks things, raises his fist, and is verbally abusive. His parents have had to call the police a few times, but because he never actually crossed the line into violence, no charges were ever filed.
Even though TNT is an adult, he uses anger and intimidation to get his parents to do what he wants. His parents walk on eggshells around him in their own home and worry that TNT will one day become violent with them. You are not alone. Almost all of us go into parenting with good intentions. It may surprise some parents, but the adult children described above really do exist, and more and more their ranks each day.
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What do these adult children all have in common? They are more comfortable relying on their parents than taking responsibility for themselves. They love their children. Unfortunately, caretaking behavior sneaks up on us over time. Emotional buttons can become so strong that some parents are held hostage by feelings of fear, exhaustion, or guilt. Many parents feel conflicting emotions.
It can leave anyone in this situation feeling paralyzed. Parents need to recognize which emotional buttons their adult child is pushing and then make changes to begin a healthy separation from that. Our next article covers the steps parents can take to get past these emotions, set boundaries with their adult child, and make them uncomfortable enough in your home to become more independent.
She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. You must log in to leave a comment. Don't have an ?