Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Boundaries with Adult Children

Our New Year started with a BANG! It was New Year's Eve 2007. We had just finished taking home one of our children that needed a ride after our family Christmas celebration. I received a phone call. Our oldest daughter, her son, her guy friend and his daughter were being put out of where they were living. They needed help. So, ended my mere three month stint of normalcy.

Mind you, our version of normal rarely looks like a stereotypical version of normal. I was just so happy to have our family the way it was "supposed" to be. The kids that didn't live there were taking care of themselves. I was focusing on home schooling the three youngest with no interruption from the older kids, and I even found time to volunteer at a local transitional housing project in our neighborhood regularly. You caught that, right? R-E-G-U-L-A-R-L-Y!

When I received that phone call, life as we knew and loved it stopped. Once again our focus shifted; pushed by an outside source. The needs of the older kids, were once again overriding the needs of the younger kids. This has been a struggle for years. If I harbor guilt with raising my children that would be the area in which it lies. We came together, and now we had two extra adults and two extra children residing in our home.

We learned about boundaries, and we learned fast. I actually am thankful that God allowed us to be in that situation. Even though I didn't know it at the time that situation helped my husband and myself grow as parents. We learned that our idea of helping isn't always helpful. We learned that sometimes helping involves no action at all. Sometimes it really is helpful to do nothing. Sometimes nothing is actually the very best thing we could do for all involved.

Having these adult children and their children in our home was a very trying situation for all. We discovered a lot about our children and ourselves. The most offending realization was our age. We found out just how far we've been and just how old we are by what we were and were not willing to live with and just how easy it was to determine and act on. The situation was stressful for all, but the responsibility lied solely on our shoulders as the reigning parents. That was no easy title to hold at that time.

Almost immediately the guy friend secured employment, and the daughter made known that she had no intention of moving on with him. Here we had gone against our house rules, allowed a guy to reside in our home (on the couch), and then she dropped this on us all! The young man was crushed, but he worked on. He secured an apartment and moved out within two months.

This left us with the daughter and her child. The daughter that has not held down a job for the past year. The daughter that cannot afford to do anything is not willing to work, let alone work hard. It became evident, and fast, that she was not going to do what it takes to be self-reliant. She was prepared to sleep in our home just as long as we would allow her to flop there. Well, we knew we were not okay with that idea, so we gave her a time limit. She was out a month or so later thanks to her income tax refund.

Take a quick breath, clean the house, reclaim rooms and make way for another adult child and her child! After one week's reprieve we ended up with another mom and child back home. This one was a mixed blessing. We were tired of house guests, but she was finally leaving an abusive relationship after four years. We couldn't turn her away. She is a hard worker with the means necessary to take care of herself. She just needs a launching off point. That would be our home. She was true to her word and was out in two months. WHEW!

What did we learn through this?

We learned that boundaries are VERY important. It is important to determine what they are, make them known, and guard them closely.

We learned that setting boundaries with older children can be tough. It is important to not allow emotions to get in the way.

We learned to ask our self, "What would help this person most in the long run?"

We learned that it is okay, and beneficial to take time to think. A thought out solution is always better than a knee-jerk response.

We learned that our future is more important than their present. This means that we will not jeopardize our financial security to secure theirs.

We learned to NEVER do for anyone what they can do for themselves.

We learned to guard our boundaries like a junk yard dog, because no one appreciates them like we do!

A step by step summary:

1.) Understand and acknowledge your need for boundaries.

2.) Determine what your boundaries are.

3.) Make your boundaries known.

4.) Stand firm oun your boundaries.


It is my prayer that God bless all of you with a strong countenance in learning how to most effectively parent your adult children. This is a pivotal time in their lives and well as yours. Stay firm, stay strong, and stay in prayer.



Oh, I'm glad you posted this. I will need this information in the future. I'm filing it away under "good advice." :-)

Shelly M.
The Mom With Brownies

wEn said...

this is a good one. I'll need it in the future too, very very long time to come but nevertheless it can be of good use in other aspects of life too. :) GOod Work

A Mail Ordered Bride


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