One thing about being a therapist is that I get to meet people from different walks of life and backgrounds. While everyone comes to see me for different reasons, sometimes I hear similar sentiments echoed my multiple people. I’ve met with a lot of people who are stressed out because of their adult children who are living in their home. Many times these are devoted parents who have attempted many times to help but they are at their wits end because they truly believe that their adult children in their 20s, 30s and 40s never intend to leave. As expected, there’s often a lot of clashing as the adult kids want to be respected and do what they want to do while the parents feel inconvenienced and many times feel obligated to make some sort of rules or give a move out date. Some of this is truly due to the economy as it can be harder to get a good paying job and the cost of housing continues to rise. Sometimes people have no other choice than to move in with family and save money. But there’s another group that doesn’t see the need to move out because it’s comfortable. In these situations the adult child usually refuses to get a job and the parent feels helpless because they don’t want their child to be homeless. In the cycle of life there’s a time ideally where the parent and the child switch roles as being the caregiver for each other. I’ve met many parents who desperately need help from their children but the switch has never been made and instead they are giving all their resources and money to their children who aren’t appreciative and it’s at the parents’ detriment. However the parents refuse to do anything because it’s their children and they feel obligated to care for their (adult) able-bodied children for as long as they are alive. The endless cycle continues because neither adult child or parent wants to make a different or a difficult decision. It’s definitely a phenomenon that I would love to do more research on at some point.
The older I get, the more I realize that being a good parent requires copious amounts of patience. Day after day I meet parents with adult children who are literally sucking the life out of them. They live at home or close by and are constantly requesting more items and money. Yet, they can never make enough to move out of their parent’s house. I get that the economy isn’t typically kind to recent graduates and that it takes a lot more money than it used to in order to sustain a decent quality of life. The parents feel guilty because their child doesn’t have a decent job and can’t make it on their own therefore they open the doors of their house “for as long as needed.” Bad idea. While I know that everyone needs help at some point in their life and that hard times happen to everyone, there’s something detrimental about constantly acquiescing to the demands of your adult children because you want them to be happy with you. Living your life in perpetual sacrifice for your children HAS to stop at some point. It holds them back from becoming responsible adults and keeps you stuck in your life. You can’t continue to cater to the wants and needs of able-bodied adults who don’t feel like working and don’t want to move because they’re leaving their rent-free housing. I hear parents complaining about their children and how stressed that they are but refuse to put boundaries in place and enforce them. It’s not a pretty sight. These are people who won’t have a decent retirement because of their actions and the choices that their children have made. It’s quite unfortunate.
Not too long ago I received a random phone call at work from someone claiming to be a distressed parent. I’ve learned to be cautious and not always trust who someone is over the phone because it literally could be anyone. This person when on to say that they had gone through the main number and had gotten transferred to me. Their teenaged child had had an accident and the supposed parent was trying to find out what happened. My suspicious were quickly awakened when I was told that the accident happened over two days ago. The parent was worried that their child had not returned home and wanted to know the outcome. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that this supposed parent had not heard from their child in over 48 hours and had not even tried to actually physically visit the area hospital to check on their child’s status or find out if they had been admitted. I’m not a parent but I can’t imagine not hearing from my child and knowing that they’re injured but not taking the time to physically visit them and find out from staff how they’re doing. But to each his or her own I suppose. There’s a high probability the person wasn’t who they claimed they were. But I’ll never know.
When I was little there was a family friend who got married. She had always been nice to me and my siblings and we all liked her. Now from a very early age I was a hopeless romantic, picking out future wedding colors and performing fake weddings with my dolls. Needless to say I was crushed when my family received the invitation to her wedding and it was adults only. I love weddings and I wanted to be there. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve understood the reasoning behind having a kid free wedding–and would probably have one as well. My siblings and I were raised to not cause loud disturbances in public and “act like we had some sense.” But we were also very aware of others who had not been raised the same way and often recoiled in horror at the behaviors of our peers. I think that children are a blessing. I admire all those who strive to provide a loving and stable homes but I have to admit that my patience isn’t always on point when I hear a crying baby or am delayed unexpectedly because of someone’s kid. The fact is that there are some events that aren’t appropriate for kids that aren’t well behaved and weddings are in that category. I personally would be a little annoyed having a baby cry during the ceremony. It’s not that I don’t understand babies cry but it’s an assault to the eardrums of everyone else without a crying baby. It’s easier to ban all kids than to only invite the well behaved ones. I personally think it would be nice to have one section in a plane dedicated to parents with small children. I know I’m not the only one who breathes a sigh of relief when you see the mother with the baby isn’t sitting on your row. But I digress. My point is that when you don’t have kids, sometimes it’s nice to not be inconvenienced by them. And there’s less well behaved ones these days. Possibly one of the reasons why my next vacation is at an adults only retreat.
Recently there was a video making its rounds on social media that showed a father and son. The father starts off very calm explaining that his son had been acting up in school and that he felt some punishment was necessary while also teaching his son to defend himself. Then the video starts and I have to admit that I fast forwarded to the end as soon as I saw how bloody it was because (at times) I’m a sensitive soul and I always hate seeing people get hurt. The video showed the father boxing with his son. I use “boxing” loosely because it looked like someone of superior height, weight, and experience beating up on someone. The father didn’t hold back and landed multiple punches to his son’s face. The end of the video showed the father questioning the son while the son was obviously still bleeding pretty badly asking him if he would act up again in school. I ran across a follow up article on the video today and you can read it here . Basically, the father was arrested and the son was removed from the home as a result of the video. Let me say first and foremost that what the father did is pretty much the definition of physical abuse if you want to get technical. When a child discloses something like that to me I’m mandated to report it because of my profession and license–whether I agree with it or not. I’ve reported child abuse on multiple occasions as it’s been a regular part of the jobs that I’ve had. In no way am I endorsing the father’s method of parenting but I have also witnessed the opposite where parents stay up all night in shifts because they are terrified that their child will kill them in the middle of the night. I can assure you that being scared of your child and what they are capable of is terrifying. Neither option is ideal by any means. However, in addition to beating up his son who was clearly unable to defend himself, the father took it a step further and posted it on social media so the whole world could see (literally). He mentioned the son’s classmates and teachers as well in the video. That’s pretty humiliating and public shaming as a form of discipline is a horrible decision. But we also have to be honest. A startling number of kids these days do not have any respect for authority figures of any sort. There are too many horrible situations where there has been a conflict that involved an authority figure (law enforcement officer) that turned deadly for no reason at all. Also, by the same token there are also situations where someone was compliant and still ended up “mysteriously” dead. I guess my point is that you can’t really win these days. I think that the father had good intentions. He was trying to teach his (almost) adult son about making better choices and respecting authority and he ended up in jail himself with his child being removed from his care. I don’t have a solution to the problem but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve posting a video of a child being hit in the head until he’s bleeding profusely. There has to be another way.
When I was younger I used to wish that I was born on this day because it would be fun to have a birthday once every four years. I remember the rhyme, “30 days have September, April, June, and November,” that ended with an explanation of Leap Day. Leap Day is an unofficial holiday of sorts–especially to those who were born on this day. I can’t help but think of the couples getting married who are secretly happy that they’ll only have to celebrate their anniversary once every 4 years like the Olympics. There’s also a part of me that wonders what it feels like to look at a calendar and not see the day you were born because it only occurs every 4 years. How do you explain that to a child who sees all his or her friends celebrating birthdays every year? Yes, you can celebrate the day before or the day after but it’s still not the same. Needless to say, I think that the extra day presents an opportunity to do something different than the norm–even if it means just taking the day off and having fun.
I ran into an interesting article the other day about having children. You can read it here. The article specifically addresses some of the reasons why people decide not to have children. I don’t think there are a lot of people who set out to be bad parents but I can understand why it’s a fear. We all know the horror stories of crimes committed by individuals and the focus automatically goes to the parents as people begin to wonder what bad parenting skills created someone who could do “such a thing.” There also aren’t a lot of people who would argue that the world needs more people in it and I think a lot of millennials have taken on the perspective that they don’t want to add to the already existing problem. All in all, I think the article was pretty thought provoking and it made me wonder about the long term ramifications for society.