When a Parent Becomes an Enabler

New parents are always told that parenting will be one of the hardest jobs they will ever have.

Sometimes, it’s physically demanding and drains the body. When our children are newborns, they keep us up at night. When they’re toddlers, we have to keep a hawks’ eye on them, while letting them explore–within boundaries–in order to allow them grow into individuals.

The first day we leave them at preschool, daycare, or kindergarten are heart wrenching. We worry about them being bullied, or breaking bones. We teach them to be kind and how to ride a bike.  We teach them to be responsible. We watch them grow with pride.

Then they become teenagers. We teach them to drive, and go through the nerve-wracking experience of seeing them drive off alone for the first time. We worry about their safety.

I’m not sure where I heard this quote, but teenagers are rebellious, so that when they have to move on to college, or life, we’re more than ready to see them off–trying to conceal the happy dance as they take off in their packed car.

I haven’t thought of parenting as a tough job. How could it be so tough when we love them so much? It’s challenging, physically and emotionally, but we do what we have to.

I’m not sure if Mrs. Duggar would agree with me, but 19 children being brought up by the same people, going to the same schools (or is it home schooled in their case?), living in the same environment–each and every one will be different. They may have similarities, but you can bet that each one will find a different way to challenge us.

That’s where the job gets tricky. A parent has to be swift, and remain one step ahead of their children, whether it’s one child, or 19. The little humans are crafty little critters, and we must always be alert.

This never stops.

The job never ends.

There are no vacations.

There is no sick leave.

In my experience, I also had to deal with my own demons, while trying to hide them from my children. However, my kids saved my life. They were, and still are, the reason I get up in the morning. The reason why I have been fighting to work on my problems with the assistance of medication and doctors.

But, now they have become adults.

By this time, we should have taught them enough to test the water. I always felt that college is a great way to do this. It gives them some freedom away from mom and dad’s watchful eye, but they are still in a mostly structured environment with the responsibilities to keep their grades adequate to stay enrolled.  All this teaches them independence.

But college may not be the answer for every child/adult. However, we should have taught them enough so that they can go off into the world. Inevitably, they will make mistakes. We can be there for them if advice is needed, but just as we learned, so shall they.

It’s going on five months since our oldest moved back home.

And we nag. Daily. And we’re ignored. Daily. I have reached the realization that we’re enabling a moocher. By nagging to get a job, the more resistance we are met with. A grace period was given due to the fact that our son graduated mid-December. Probably not the best time to be looking for a job, so the grace period was to end right after the first of the year.

But the Bank of Mom and Dad is running dry. We have to set a deadline, and a boot out the door, out of love.

Every time I have dealt with a difficult parenting issue, I thought that it was the worst one. Then another issue comes along, then another. It never stops. The job never ends. There are no vacations. There is no sick leave.

Ha! We have been observing the modi operandi of our offspring for 24 years. Even though they try to sneak one past us, we have learned to be swift. We have learned their unique talents of camouflage and procrastination. Other than The Wee One, we see what’s coming. The Wee One is very crafty–he would make a great politician, but thankfully has no interest.

The oldest is performing just enough actions to make it appear that a job search is in process. But, we see the camouflage and procrastination—he’s a vampire. He sleeps during the day—how can one find a job while sleeping?

While I have to put aside, yet again, the torture within my brain, I have to continue to teach lessons. Personally, I think this is what they were talking about when I was told that parenting would be the hardest job I would ever have. Trying to stay strong, to not give in, to do what’s right, is very hard while dealing with inner defeat.

I am so thankful that my husband has found a way to love me in spite of myself. We are a unit. Even when I’m telling him we can’t do something because “that’s too  mean”, he is the voice of reason. I have heard him, and we aren’t doing our son any favors.

Crap—sometimes parenting sucks.


About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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13 Responses to When a Parent Becomes an Enabler

  1. mewhoami says:

    I believe you’re right. The hardest part of being a parent is saying no. Also, letting our children make mistakes so that they can learn from them. We want to be the good parent. But, sometimes the good parent is made good, by showing their child tough love. You can do it. Stay firm and know that you are helping him in the long run.

  2. Tracy says:

    Sometimes it does April. And you are so right, we are always parents…no matter how old our children are. I wish you (and your son!) some non-enabling, good ole tough love…and that he finds a fantastic job stat!!!!!!

    • April says:

      Thanks! He should have problems, I hear the computer industry is a great field. His problem? He’s picky. He wants to work for a gaming company. We told him he has to start somewhere and it may not be the dream job. If he keeps working, one day, maybe he’ll get that dream job. He logically knows that, but he is having just a little too much “fun” at our expense.

  3. aviets says:

    You’re 100% right. The most painful, gut-sickening moments of my life have been in worry about something that’s happened with our kids…and trying to figure out how to handle it the “right” way. Sending hugs and good thoughts your way. Try to remember: you’ve gotten it right so far, so you’ve got a good track record. -Amy

    • April says:

      There are some tightrope walking moments. We don’t want to push the wrong way and push them the opposite direction they need to be going. I’m sure it will work out, just as the last time I thought we were at a crossroad.

  4. suzjones says:

    I would much rather be the parent of a child than an adult. Really April I feel your pain having two adult children myself.

  5. Glynis Jolly says:

    I hear stories like yours. There’s even a movie that is similar to your situation, Failure to Launch. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I have one son and one stepdaughter. I had my stepdaughter more years in my home than her mother did so I basically think of her as mine. Somehow, even though I wasn’t all that great of a mom, both are responsible adults. How this happened, I don’t have a clue. My son is a welder and lives with my mom because he feels that she needs to be looked after. True, he doesn’t pay rent to her but does most of everything that needs to be done at her house and pays for the groceries quite often. I would say he earns his keep. My stepdaughter has her own condo in Las Vegas and calls my husband and me once a month to check up on us. I don’t know how we did it. If I knew, I’d bottle it and make a mint off of it.

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