Talking to a frazzled, harried mom recently, she was complaining about how her 19 year old daughter was wearing her down. The daughter is unmarried, still lives at home, and is pretty much forcing Mom and stepdad to help her raise her own baby.
Mom said, “She’s just after me all the time. I don’t have time to work, to study, get my knitting done. She needs money for diapers; she needs me to go with her to help take care of the baby while she does anything.”
And it’s affecting Mom’s and stepdad’s relationship, too, of course! Mom recalls, “Last night I was so upset at her nagging about the sick baby that I snapped at my husband several times.”
“Why didn’t you snap at her instead of him'” I asked.
“I don’t know! I was just so upset. I needed to study, I needed to do laundry, I needed some peace and quiet, but she just kept coming into my room asking for this, or needing something else. He asked me something and I just exploded!”
This dear, well-meaning lady is raising a retarded child. No, her daughter has no mental deficiency, she is not “challenged” in any standard sense of the word. But she is severely retarded all the same. Her mother has retarded her.
If you are still carrying your grown child, you are retarding their growth. If your teenager is still unable to make basic decisions for himself such as how to pay for extras or whether to study for a test in stead of failing it, then you are retarding your child!
Our jobs are to prepare these biological blobs to become functioning adults who are capable of dealing with challenges and questions in the big ol’ world. If we don’t do that; if we answer all their questions for them; if we carry all their loads for them, they will not develop the necessary skills and confidence to handle life. We are retarding their growth.
I’m not suggesting that you throw them defenseless to the wolves (i.e. refuse to provide their basic needs or offer wise guidance), just that you help them become able to fight the wolves themselves. Yes, it’s a fine line between too much privilege and the right amount of encouragement.
But that’s what prayer, Bible study, parenting books, support groups, and coaches are all for. Find a good, successful parent and ask them for advice.
For suggestions about how to get them to the point of living on their own, my special report, “12 Steps to Improving Your Stepfamily’s Communication,” covers the basics. Lay a good foundation while they’re young and they’ll be more competent to take over later.
Don’t give up. But don’t give in, either. Stand strong. If you need help, I’ll help you. But keep your goal in mind: raise them to be ready to leave.
Ephesians 6:4 teaches us: “Parents, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.” Lead, guide, prepare, release.