Monday, December 18, 2006

Tough love

I had a conversation today that troubled me somewhat. It troubled me because I couldn't do anything about it and I couldn't make anything change for the individual. Although it seems the opposite at times, I am a fixer of things. I prefer the quiet life and don't enjoy confrontation or argument. BUT, there is a place for it in life sometimes when all other forms of communication fail.

Years ago I, like most parents of teenagers, complained to a colleague about my teen daughter's antics. Staying out late, wrong kinds of friends, arguing with me - all the usual antics of that age group. My colleague sat for a moment then, in a quiet voice, she started to tell me about her daughter. She was 15 years old and was involved with a wild crowd. She did hard drugs, smoked, drank and they had to make her leave their house because they were almost scared to be near her. Help finally came from the police. The girl stole her parents new car, took it on a joyride down the highway between Winnipeg and Brandon and crashed it. When the police called them and asked if they wanted to lay charges, without hesitation they said yes, arrest her. It was the only way that the girl would get the help she needed and the only way that the girl would realize the seriousness of her actions. It did work. It was a rocky road back to any form of communication or life for both sides but sometimes action needs to be taken that doesn't make you popular as a parent. No one said it was an easy ride. I'm a parent, not one of my children's best buddies. There is a real distinction there.

I read a book, about dealing with the problems and expectations of grown children and how to deal with them. It showed how to get my life back and not feel guilty about my adult children's lives.

So your adored son is nearing 30--or past it already--and still living at home, unable to hold onto a McJob for longer than six months running, relying on you to feed him and make his car payments. Your beautiful, brainy daughter is anorexic, or addicted to drugs, or unwilling to leave the man who hits her. Increasing numbers of baby boomers are finding that their grown children have fallen far short of their expectations. These parents are confused, angry, guilt-ridden, and ashamed. Jane Adams’s When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us is for them. She reveals the kinds of disappointments that other parents are facing: kids who are unable or unwilling to support themselves, kids who are addicts or convicts, kids who’ve joined cults or seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. She stresses that these are real problems--but that they aren’t the parents’ problems. Adams reassures parents that they’ve done their jobs and that they don’t have to spend the rest of their lives picking up the pieces for their grown children, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. Continuing to prop up kids who’ve repeatedly fallen on their own teaches them nothing; it’s just a temporary fix. Beyond offering sympathy, reassurance, and wisdom, the book doesn’t lay out a plan for solving anyone’s problems, but reading it may help disappointed parents shuck some of their guilt and shame, gather the courage to take back their own lives, and let their grown children fend for themselves. --Jennifer Lindsay

These situations aren't all extremes, not all of these adult children are drug dealers or addicts, but sometimes are simply children who just don't grow up or aren't allowed to grow up because parents won't let them. We all like to be needed but it should not be to the extent that we cripple our children to satisfy our own needs.

I started colourizing an image of myself when I was 19 months old taken at Christmas. I am using a piece of Mylar for it and to photograph the drawing I put the image behind it so it would show up more clearly. Its a unique medium that doesn't take a lot of layers and is slightly grainy so rather unique. Its my experiment and if it works I'll mailorder some decent drafting film and try my hand with more coloured pencil on this support.


Terry Banderas said...

Nice post. Your comment --
"I'm a parent, not one of my children's best buddies. There is a real distinction there."--
is part of what younger parents don't get. It is much easier to be a buddy.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks Terry. Yes it is easier to be a buddy and some parents want to believe that level of interaction is the right one to take or it makes them love you more. However, it seldom works I've found.

Anonymous said...

Jeanette, excellent post and I agree with you and Terry, it is true that the young parents of today want to be buddies and are creating a difficult future in the rearing of their children.

Billie Crain said...

i very much enjoyed the parenting article. it's all too true.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jeanette!

Anonymous said...

Oops - forgot to comment on your art! I love tripod as Santa. Just lovely. I've been fascinated by your interest in using the drafting film. Little You is looking very promising indeed.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks Billie. There's nothing simple about parenting, that's for sure.

Mrssnowy (good name for this time of year :o) Thank you. Tripod is a trip alright. The drafting film is quite unique. I'll keep playing with it when I get the chance.

catnapping said...

It seems to me that each new generation of parents has less social support than the generations before it.

As a species, humans evolved in clans...extended families. Raising children was not done by one couple (or a single parent) 24/7. Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, and soforth were all involved.

Nowadays, the nuclear unit is expected to handle everything. Our families are scatter hither and yon, and we're all holding jobs just to pay the rent.

Our children are forced by commercial/consumer values to grow up they'll want to spend money on clothes, make-up, cars, ipods, PCs, CD, DVDs, etc.

Learning (as all humans do) by social comparison, they no longer get their values from an extended family/clan. They now learn how to behave from sitcoms and hip commercials.

Small wonder they're in trouble.

Mine are in their 30s, and finally starting to gain some perspective.

Me, I'm in my 50s, and still an idiot.