Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
I am losing my son! I adopted him from a family member who was using drugs when he was little, and now he has grown up to betray me. He is 24, and has decided to run away by moving out of town and go be with some person he says he is in love with. I can’t believe he has been seeing somebody, let alone decided things are so serious without my permission. I told him from the get-go that I disapproved, and he still defied me anyways. In this family, children do not abandon their parents to move away. My brother still lives with our parents, and he is in his forties. After all I have done for him, and all the sacrifices I have made to give him a good life, this is the thanks I get? What is wrong with young people today? In my day, we appreciated our parents, and we did not do things behind their backs, let alone things they did not approve of.
Dear Unappreciated Mother,
I am actually really shocked you express these feelings as opposed to admitting you are scared of being alone since your young one has learned to fly, and is starting to build his own nest, thus leaving you an empty nester. It sounds to me like you have no life outside that of being a mother, and you are not unusual. Kids are amazing, and take up a lot of time.
It is, however, a fairly recent cultural development for parents to be obsessed with their children, and have no life of their own. It is codependent, unhealthy, and people who do this fail in their job of teaching their young how to develop into strong adults who can take care of themselves.
The people who do this are people who do this would benefit from either psychotherapy or medication. Based on what you are telling me about your slacker brother who is still at home, this is an unhealthy cycle that was instilled in you by the adults who raised you. Apparently, you moved out of your parent’s house at some point although your brother did not, so to criticize your child for doing the same thing you did is not fair. He is 24. It’s time.
I think you are lonely and scared because you centered your life around only your child, and you feel betrayed he did not likewise center his life around only you.
What he needs right now is encouragement, not criticism. This is the agreement you made when you became a parent. You agreed to make it about HIM, and from what you are writing, you are making this all about YOU. While I have no respect for that, I can actually show you how his move can benefit you.
If he is 24, even if you adopted him, you CANNOT be so old that your life is over. You need to stop bitching about the fact your son is an adult, and has decided he wants to choose his own life as opposed to being like your loser brother who never left the nest.
You also really need to take a good, hard look at what it is about you that you feel an inability to be proud of the fact that your son, adoptive or not, has taken the initiative to become a responsible adult and enter the world and take care of himself.
It will give you more money for yourself, and the time to pursue interests being a full time parent did not allow. If you are single, you have more time for dating. You will have your house back all to yourself, and you won’t have to pick up after anybody else. You don’t have to let other people know what you are doing, and when you are doing it. You can walk naked through your house, and you can fuck in the middle of any room anytime of any day, and not worry about somebody walking in on you. The list of personal freedoms that having an empty nest allows is endless.
Losing your son is actually something that does not have to happen. Your relationship will change from mommy and little boy to proud mother of a fine young man who is a responsible adult- and who has brought a new person to the family for you to spoil. Said new person may be the one he spends his life with and has kids with, which means grandbabies for you! You are not losing your son. You are gaining an adult child, and have lost the financial and time responsibility of having a little one.
Despite the fact that you are being a jerk about this, you obviously did something right if your son is brave and responsible enough to do this. 24 year olds do not sneak around behind their parents backs dating, and a move is not running away. They do not need your permission to do adult things. You have already been aware of this, and once they decided to live together, you were told. You were not betrayed and nothing was done behind your back.
The person who is acting in a non adult way is you, and I have faith that if you calm down and apologize, which I think is necessary, your son and his significant other will look forward to spending time with you.
WHEN your new busy schedule of doing things you had not had time to do allows, that is!
It’s time to cut the apron strings, and break the co-dependence. Tell your son you feel scared and lonely, and you lashed out because you are freaking out. Tell him you love him and trust him, and tell him that if things do not work out with this move, he can move home if he needs to. If he does that, though, he will have to pay bills. You have to treat him like an adult since you will not live forever, and he will eventually be on his own regardless. Tell him you are struggling with empty nesters syndrome, and you need him to forgive that, and be patient with you. Tell him you want him and his mate to come see you and have you over to see their nice new place. It will make them want to visit more, and it will make a nice transition to an adult relationship with your adult son.
Congratulations on adopting, and raising a fine young man. You deserve praise for that. Now, give him your trust, and respect, and let him choose his own life, like a man.