Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living with Adult Children

My 20.5 year old daughter, Kazi, just left to go write her first of several final exams at UWO.  She has successfully completed three years of her French degree. One more year at UWO, then teacher's college and she'll be on her way to total independence.

At least, that's the plan.

I don't know (yes I do) who is having a more difficult time with her transition to adulthood and subsequent independence - me or her.  Yes, it's me. I am really struggling with this. I've come to the conclusion that when our children go to university they should really GO to university - to live as well as study. Having one foot in university life and one foot in your parent's home is an uneasy balance at best. At times it is downright awkward and at others kinda scary and tense. 

I think I could manage a whole lot better if I didn't know what time she is coming home at night or even if she IS coming home at night. Can you believe that a month ago I grounded her (an adult) because she didn't let me know she was spending the night elsewhere so I found her bed unslept in when I was getting ready for work the next morning. What's even more unbelievable is that she went along with it and stayed home for a week. She thought is was ridiculous but did it to appease me. It was the only time I've ever grounded her in her entire life. 

To help support herself she has taken a new job as a server at a university club called Jack's. She loves working there because a ton of her friends from school hang out there.  So does she when she's not working. One day last week she told me she got home really late (like 4am) because there had been an incident outside the club and the police were talking to her manager so they couldn't leave. Yes, apparently some guy outside the club was waving a gun around. 

I didn't know what to say. I knew I couldn't say what I wanted to say which was QUIT THAT JOB RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, so I just said I'm glad no one was hurt blah blah blah. 

In my head I've come to the point where I know I can no longer impose my values and lifestyle on her but it is still so hard to bite my tongue when I KNOW I know better than she does about certain situations. I've been doing a lot of research lately and keep reading that at this point in our kid's lives we can only "offer advice when it's solicited" or "pop in a leading question when the opportunity arises" but when it comes right down to it they are going to make their own decisions...they HAVE to make their own decisions, right or wrong, good or bad. 

This is the process, called maturation (or learning from one's mistakes), that we all have to go through...the true rites of the passage into adulthood. Trying to protect them from "life" only slows down or inhibits the process. The tough part for us moms and dads is watching them stumble and fall knowing that if they'd only listen to us we could save them from so much pain and hardship.

Huge sigh...

However, this was not meant to be. I have to keep reminding myself of all the idiotic and risky things I did at her age and realize that if it wasn't for those harsh life lessons I wouldn't be the strong and (somewhat) wise woman that I am today. 

More to come.......................................................................................... .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................


  1. Jane, all I can say is:

    I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!! :)! Hang in there. I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel...

  2. I am trying so desperately to stay out of my daughter's life. By that I mean not giving unsolicited advice and telling her what she should do with her situation (ie. love life). At least I got her out of the nest before she became a Mom. She's only 21. What I wouldn't do for her, but learning restraint is something I am working on. I hope that she values my advice, and knows enough to ask when she really doesn't know what to do.

  3. Hi Jane; Think of who she has lived with for twenty years and not only who she listened to, but, trust and more trust, have faith she will make the right decisions and lots of prayer.. I still worry and mine are in their forties..It's not easy raising kids and letting go..I bought a book on letting go and cried my eyes out by chapter two!..good luck! love L.Dee

  4. I've begged my kids to stay little. So far, not one of them is listening.
    Your daughter is lovely and sounds like a good girl.
    Your Friend, m.

  5. oh Jane, I totally agree with you! if I don't know about it I can't worry about it.

  6. Ouch... Good luck is all I can say!

  7. I completely understand and feel the same as you. The only difference is I now have 4 children at the university or older. I definitely agree that it is without a doubt better for the young adult to move away [without consideration of finances-which are a completely other scale to life].

    I would love to tell you it gets easier. In some ways it does. In other ways, no matter how old or distant they get your mommy instincts will scream for you to intercede on their behalf.

    Stay strong, stay judgment free and focus on love.

    1 more thing - I too remember myself at this age, and maybe it is only me...but times seem a zillion times more dangerous now. :(

  8. I love that she stayed home when she was grounded. This must be so hard, I can definitely wait. My daughters will be turning ten in a couple months, I can't believe it.

  9. There's nothing wrong with butting in when you really feel you need to. My very unathletic 18-year-old freshman son joined a club (I cringe to think I encouraged him to) that involves running around and tag. I'm not going to name it or go into details about the other unsavory aspects of the club. Recently we got a forwarded piece of mail indicating that he got so hurt by another player that everyone but him thought it should have been reported. What's worse is that reference was made to an incident 6 months ago in which another player took him down to the concrete where his head hit and he claimed that he "almost got a concussion." This is supposed to be a non-contact game (other than tagging people.) Because I feel his judgment is poor (for not seeking medical advice, not telling us about this, and continuing to play in a game where he simply obtained an apology from the person, probably twice his size and 3x his strength, who could have killed him from smashing his head into concrete) we asked him to quit. There were some tense moments while discussing it but he decided to appease us and ultimately he respects our wishes. I try not to pull rank like that very often and I choose the occasions sparingly and carefully. I don't think that parents need to butt out at all times just because kids are 18, 20, or whatever. They still need us; I'd ask the same of my husband and if he asked me to quit something he felt was dangerous I'd strongly consider his wishes and probably give in to them, also, so I see this is a family matter more than a grown-kids matter. I'm not trying to liken this to the pub incident; I can see how you'd decide (and I might also) that this was a one-time thing. I'm saying I don't find your recent grounding episode inappropriate. I think you're doing a great parenting job!

  10. every time I see a picture of your daughter I think gosh she looks so much like you. I'll bet she has a lot of your other traits as well and is a bright girl. Try not to worry too much.

  11. I wrote a reply but my computer ate it. It's so hard to watch your children make choices that you would not like them to make. I'm going through some stuff like that with my daughter who will turn 17 this summer. I'm not happy with her choice but I have to back off and let her deal with the consequences even if those consequences hurt her.

  12. I had a hard time with it myself - the first 2 yrs I lived at home and went to 2 yr college then transferred to university but still felt obligated to go home often. Like I couldn't grow up yet couldn't be on my own either since my mom was pretty protective growing up. was really hard. some things have to be learned by trial and error - and errors not criticized to death! I don't think you're as controlling as my mom was though!


  13. Oh, sorry, while typing in the little box, I didn't realize I typed so much. I should have made my own blog post about it. (embarrassed icon goes here)

  14. I'm on the other end. I'm living at home. It's good that your daughter is listening to you. It's easy to tell that she respects you and trusts your opinion. We appreciate the advice you give us, although we may not ALWAYS take it. Your daughter sounds like a great girl, keep being a great mom :)

  15. 444 - it is a topic worthy of MANY blog posts!! But don't be embarrassed - I appreciate your thoughts! Blog on!

  16. Eboo - for my daughter to be a mother at 21 she'd have to be pregnant now, all I can say is I'm glad she's not - she's way too immature to have a baby! I feel for you - it can be hard to hold back the comments especially when there's a little one involved. Thank God she has you!

  17. Borrower - "Stay strong, stay judgment free and focus on love".
    Thank you so much for this - I do get judgmental sometimes; instead I will focus on LOVE!

  18. Girl Makes Cents - so good to hear from "the other end" - your comment is very comforting - thank you! Yes, I know she HEARs me, but yes, what she does with my advice is up to her; I accept that.

  19. Susanna - thank you for mentioning the "criticizing" piece - my mother was pretty good (bad?) at that too and that always hurt. I can see that I am guilty of that with Kazi and need to be more neutral. It's not easy.

  20. Mark - I would give anything to have my baby girl back again, but growing up is just something we can't stop!

  21. I have two 'adult children' living at home who are like chalk and cheese. My son (20) is the easiest child to parent. He asks for advice every now and again and abides by his one house rule: If you're going out, at night, I need to now where and if/when you will be home.
    My youngest daughter and I, (17) who is so stubborn she could actually be a mule (and I say this with love, lol) fight over home times and her daily choices, but I'm trying to lay off and let her make mistakes...and she is making them...
    This is difficult for me but....I do trust her. I know that she has a good head on her shoulders.= and will one day wise up. The main thing she's not allowed to do without my agreement is go in cars. She will ring me if she's ever getting a lift anywhere.

    BIG comment.

    I agree it's easier if they go away to uni but I'm trying to see the next couple of years as a bonus..the I'm leaving the country :) :) :)

    Keep strong and have faith that you've done a great job with you have!


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