You shouldn’t still be raising your children when they’re adults. Nor should you be raising their children for them. It’s one thing taking an adult child in when they have temporary difficulties. It’s another thing to run their lives for them. It’s not healthy for any of you. How do you know when your adult children are too dependent on you? Here’s a few things to watch for.
Their needs preempt yours. When children are small, their needs do come first. That’s a given. If your child is an adult, they should realize you’ve done your job and deserve some time for yourself. While your concern for their well being should never go away, you are no longer responsible for their every happiness. It’s not healthy for adult children to be overly dependent on their parents. You won’t always be there to catch them when they fall.
They keep coming back. You thought you were done raising your children when they left for college. Finally, you had a little time to think about your own needs You love them, but you deserve a life too. Now, here they are knocking on your door again, asking to stay for a couple months. Maybe a couple months becomes a year. Maybe they leave and come back. Every time they have a set-back, you are their solution. It’s really time for your adult children to start learning to solve their own problems.
You are raising their children. Maybe they all live with you. Maybe it’s just the grand-kids. Maybe they don’t live with you at all, but you handle the discipline issues, the tears, the fears and everything else their parents aren’t taking care of. As a grandparent your job is to impart wisdom and have fun with them, not to raise them or make up for their parents lack of skills. They made the decision to have children They have to take full responsibility for raising them properly.
They don’t see a problem. Your children fail to see that they’re so dependent on you, it’s impacting your happiness. They think you should just be glad to have them in your life. They think taking care of them should make you happy, just as it did when they were small children. They don’t realize you don’t have the emotional or physical strength to take on your own responsibilities and theirs. You love them but you deserve to have a life outside of your adult children.
They don’t care. If it’s gotten to a point where your adult children see what they’re doing to you and don’t care, it’s definitely time to take a stand. Sit down and put some boundaries in place. Let them know just exactly what you are willing to do for them and what you’re not. They’re acting like children, so at least for the time being, you will have to treat them like children. Once they understand that coming home and being coddled means they lose their adult privileges, they may not ask to move in again. Or at least, they’ll take care of business a little better.
More from this contributor:
How to Help Your Adult Children Gain Independence
Sole Caregiver Stress Relief – How to Find Time for Yourself
Teaching Kids Responsibility