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Posts tagged ‘setting boundaries with adult children’

How to Help Your Young Adult Build Their Own Life

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Carey Casey/Charisma Magazine

You know that fatherhood doesn’t end when a child turns 20, right?

We recently heard from a distraught mom. She and her husband have a son in college who lives at home, and he basically takes the approach that since he’s an “adult” now, he can pretty much do what he wants. And he isn’t doing much, which makes things very tense.

This son is lazy and sloppy and doesn’t show any respect when his dad asks him to help out around the house. Mom and Dad don’t want to upset him or make things worse, so they pretty much put up with it. This mom says she cleans up after her son because she wants her home to be orderly for the rest of the family.

These are such difficult situations because all parents want their children to be happy. But sometimes doing what’s best for them will cause some discomfort and unhappiness, at least for a while. But bottom line, parents can’t let their adult children wreck their households. When they are irresponsible and living at home, it puts strain on everyone. They should not be allowed to act like children when they need to be transitioning to adulthood. If a child in his 20s isn’t forced to take on more responsibility for his own life, there’s no motivation for him to become an independent, self-reliant adult who can handle the “real world.”

If he’s disrespecting his parents along with it, there definitely needs to be a change. He needs some motivation to step up and take on responsibility.

How does that look, exactly? Well, let me warn you: The ideas I have might sound a lot like “tough love,” which can leave a child angry and upset for a time. In some scenarios, he may leave and say he never wants to see you again, and you might not hear from him for weeks. But chances are good that eventually he’ll come around, and maybe even thank you for giving him the “kick” he needed to get going.

Think about birds teaching their young to fly. Often they nudge them out of the nest. And in some cases, that’s how it is with young adult kids.

So how can parents handle this?

One suggestion is to draw up an agreement with your young-adult child in writing. The details depend on the specifics of the situation, but a good general rule comes from the authors of the Love and Logic books. It’s called the “good neighbor policy.”

If a friendly neighbor needed a place to stay for a while, you’d probably help him out. But if he wanted to stay longer, you would likely draw up an agreement. He’d need to obey your house rules and pay something for room and board—on time, each month. Of course, if he didn’t like the rent amount or the rules, he’d be free to find another situation.

If necessary, you would take action to move him out of your home.

That might sound cruel. Maybe you could never imagine doing that to your own child. But that might be exactly what he needs to get his life on track.

Let me quickly add, while pushing, it’s important to communicate in several different ways, “We love you, and we want you to learn to be responsible, independent and content.” That could include encouraging words, regular invitations for home-cooked meals back home and financial help related to the transition itself. For example, you may want to help cover the security deposit on an apartment lease. Or something like a gift certificate to a men’s clothing store for your son to pick out a new interview suit.

Also, understand that even a bird doesn’t do this until the young one is ready. So, not all situations call for the same approach.

But if you’re in this situation, get with your wife and do some research, maybe talk with other parents, and figure out an approach you both believe in. You need to be on the same page and not let any issues with your child come between the two of you.

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Adult Children: ARE YOU AN ENABLING PARENT?

SOURCE:  Excerpted from a book by Allison Bottke

Following are a few questions that might help you determine the difference between helping and enabling an adult child. It’s interesting to note that these questions are not unlike those often asked in Al-anon meetings when defining the behaviors of an alcoholic or drug addict with whom someone lives.

  1. Have you repeatedly loaned your adult child money, which has seldom, if ever, been repaid?
  2. Have you paid for education and /or job training in more than one field?
  3. Have you finished a job or project that he failed to complete himself because it was easier than arguing with him?
  4. Have you paid bills he was supposed to have paid himself?
  5. Have you accepted part of the blame for his addictions or behavior?
  6. Have you avoided talking about negative issues because you feared his response?
  7. Have you bailed him out of jail or paid for his legal fees?
  8. Have you given him “one more chance” and then another and another?
  9. Have you ever returned home at lunchtime (or called) and found him still in bed sleeping?
  10. Have you wondered how he gets money to buy cigarettes, video games, new clothes, and such but can’t afford to pay his own bills?
  11. Have you ever “called in sick” for your child, lying about his symptoms to his boss?
  12. Have you threatened to throw him out but didn’t?
  13. Have you begun to feel that you’ve reached the end of your rope?
  14. Have you begun to hate both your child and yourself for the state in which you live?
  15. Have you begun to worry that the financial burden is more than you can bear?
  16. Have you begun to feel that your marriage is in jeopardy because of this situation?
  17. Have you noticed growing resentment in other family members because of your adult child?
  18. Have you noticed that others are uncomfortable around you when this issue arises?
  19. Have you noticed an increase in profanity, violence, and /or other unacceptable behavior from your adult child?
  20. Have you noticed that things are missing from your home, including money, valuables, and other personal property?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, chances are that at some point in time, you have enabled your adult child to avoid his own responsibilities and to escape the consequences of his actions. Rather than helping him grow into a productive and responsible adult, you have made it easier for him to become even more dependent and irresponsible.

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, you have not only been an enabler, but you have probably become a major contributor to the problem.

It’s time to stop.

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Excerpted from:

Bottke, A. (2008). Setting boundaries with your adult children: Six steps to hope and healing for struggling parents. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

Adult Children: What Is the Difference Between Helping and Enabling?

SOURCE:  Excerpted from a book by Allison Bottke

Helping is doing something for someone who is not capable of doing for himself.

Enabling is doing for someone what he could and should be doing for himself.

An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist in his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

Sadly, though, the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior is blurred for many enabling parents. Not only are we often unaware of what it means to enable, but we’re equally fuzzy when it comes to what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. For instance, in the example I mentioned earlier, it should be unacceptable behavior for a child to ask to borrow 10 dollars and not return the change when given a 20-dollar bill. As you’ll remember, the mother told me this had happened repeatedly.

When we continue to allow these behaviors, we are setting up a pattern with our children that will be hard to change. We’re enabling their repeated inappropriate behavior. Then when we repeat the enabling pattern year after year—accepting what should be unacceptable behavior and instilling bad habits—it eventually becomes as natural to many of us as breathing. Yet all the while, a nagging feeling deep in our hearts and souls tells us something very wrong is happening. Take a moment now and look at the following sidebar. It will help you determine the extent to which you have or haven’t been enabling your dysfunctional child.

By the way, a word of caution is appropriate here.

In clarifying the difference between helping and enabling, I’m not saying that we can never loan our kids cash or help them out. We simply must know the difference between a responsible adult child asking Mom or Dad to loan them a few bucks when an unexpected expense pops up and an adult child who habitually asks for money and seldom, if ever, repays it.

What I’m saying is that we need to be aware of when an adult child gets into a habit of asking for money and not repaying it, or when an adult child exhibits a sense of entitlement to his parents’ money. Typically, a responsible adult child repays a loan, and the habitual borrower seldom, if ever, repays it.

The key to remember is, are we helping or enabling our adult children?

Make no mistake about it: If you have been an enabling parent, it may not be easy for you to change. Nor will any resulting changes in your adult child be easy for him to make. Learning to choose to do things differently isn’t easy after a long-term pattern has been established.

Years ago I founded an outreach called God Allows U-Turns. A key part of that ministry is a series of true, short-story compilation books focused on ways faith can help us find new direction in life. The subtitle of that book series is The Choices We Make Change the Story of Our Life. Never is that statement more true than when deciding to change the choices we make in how we relate to our adult children who are creating pain in our lives. Equally true is that for adult children who have been consistently enabled throughout their lives, it’s the choices they don’t make that will eventually tell the story of their lives.

In her best-selling book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, author Jill Rigby writes,

Respect was paramount when we were kids. But somehow over the years we substituted self-esteem for self-respect and lost our manners. Slowly, but surely, children became the center of the universe, spoiled, egotistical and disrespectful. I often refer to them as “aristobrats.”

As a result of this emphasis on self-esteem, twenty-somethings are returning home rather than facing the world on their own. College kids are flunking out because they don’t know how to manage their own schedules. Kids are growing up without problem-solving skills because many of their parents think love means solving all their problems for them. Many adolescents have no respect for authority because their parents didn’t command their respect. Instead, these parents gave too much and expected too little.1

Could this be true? Have we given too much and expected too little?

As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors.

1 Jill Rigby, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World (West Monroe, LA: Howard Books, 2006), 7.

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Excerpted from:

Bottke, A. (2008). Setting boundaries with your adult children: Six steps to hope and healing for struggling parents. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

Adult Children: Dealing With Defiance

SOURCE:  Chuck Swindoll/Insight for Living

Regarding:  Deuteronomy 21:18–21

Defiance and stress are inseparable co-conspirators. Together, they scheme to steal your peace of mind.

Although the term defiance does not appear in Scripture, acts and attitudes of defiance often do. No matter what the term, the scene is never pretty.

The same is true in life today . . . but the tragedy is that defiance is frequently permitted and sometimes totally ignored, leaving others in the wake of its serious consequences. Talk about stress fractures!

God never overlooks or winks at defiance. He deals with it, and we are to take our cues from our Lord.

Let’s take a quick look at God’s attitude, His abhorrence of rebellious acts.

Please consider Deuteronomy 21:18–21. Even though this event occurred in the days when the severity of punishment was much greater than today, it nevertheless reveals how strongly the Lord feels about defiance.

I take it, from the way this narrative unfolds, that the person in question is a young man—old enough to live outside the home, but perhaps not quite ready for that. He’s living under the roof of his parents but has been demonstrating insubordinate independence. His lifestyle reveals an unbending determination to have his own way.

“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.”

I remember the first time I read that passage; I was a teenager! In fact, I was getting pretty big for my britches. I thought about those words till very late in the evening, believe me. I can still remember the chill that ran down my back when I realized how seriously God feels about defiance. I was also grateful that I was not living under the Law! The Lord made no provision for domestic insolence, even when the child living at home was approaching adulthood.

Defiance is never excusable, never of little concern.

Before proceeding, perhaps I should clarify that this passage is not suggesting that parents have the right to be despotic dictators in the home, mistreating and manipulating their children. No! Please observe that the parents mentioned in Deuteronomy 21 apparently had attempted to work with their son—to no avail. He defied their authority. He refused to cooperate, to curtail his habit of getting drunk, to restrain himself in other things as well. This young man was turning the home into a “hell on earth.” He left the parents with no alternative other than to call on city authorities to help, which still occurs today.

Take time to observe, parents!

The peace, the moral standards, and the joy of your home are not to be sacrificed on the altar of indulgence. Defiance will send stress fractures through the structure of a home just as it will ruin a life. If you do not deal with it, who will? Believe me, the teacher at school or the minister at church cannot take the place of the parent at home.

In the days of Samuel, there once lived a self-willed king named Saul. On one occasion King Saul did his own thing, in defiance of God’s instructions through the prophet-judge Samuel. The prophet was dispatched by the Lord to face the king. Saul excused himself, backpedaled, rationalized, and even denied being defiant. Finally, Samuel had had enough. He looked straight at Saul, pointed that long, bony finger of his and said, “Rebellion is as the sin of divination . . . and idolatry.”

That’s quite a statement! The Living Bible captures the thought in this paraphrase:

For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. (1 Samuel 15:23a TLB)

The next time you’re tempted to pass over defiance, remember that analogy.

 

Adult Children: Refusal To Work

SOURCE:  Living Free

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'”   2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV

If you have chosen to provide a home for your adult child, then it becomes his (or her) responsibility to provide some compensation for you. If he works, he should always pay a reasonable amount of room and board on a monthly basis. You should not provide free living conditions for an adult child who refuses to work. (Read Proverbs 6:6-11.)

God wants each of us to develop a sense of responsibility and to do our part. If you let your adult child take advantage of you, not only do you suffer for it but your child does as well. Allowing him to shirk responsibility enables him to continue living in irresponsible ways.

Of course, there might be special circumstances—perhaps your child is in school fulltime and you have agreed to help for a set period of time. Or he might have health problems. In these and similar types of extenuating circumstances, helping by providing free room and board may be the right thing to do.

It is desirable, if possible, to provide separate living quarters, and even a separate entrance, within your home for your child’s use. You need and have a right to your privacy, and so does he. If this type of arrangement is available, your relationship with your adult child is likely to be much more pleasant.

Father, help us plan these living arrangements in such a way that is pleasing to you. Help my child to grow in a sense of responsibility during this time, rather than decline. Help me to resist the temptation to “baby” my child. I know that is not in our best interests—and is not pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D.

Adult Children: Setting Boundaries

SOURCE:  Living Free

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV

Although it is vital for you to respect your adult child in the way you communicate and relate, he will need to adjust his behavior to keep the rules of your home. God has called sons and daughters to honor their parents.

You have every right to set boundaries and require them to be kept. Do not allow an adult child to take over your home, living any way that he pleases, and not assuming specific responsibilities and duties. Boundaries might include not smoking in the home and reasonable limitations for having visitors.

Your child is a grown adult and will make his own sexual decisions. However, it is reasonable for you to continue to enforce the moral code that you have taught him as long as he lives in your home. You should never allow persons of the opposite sex or of homosexual persuasion to spend the night in your home with your child (Deuteronomy 5:18, Hebrews 13:4, Romans 1:26-27).

Expectations should include maintaining a respectful attitude toward you, doing household chores, yard and car maintenance, keeping his area of the home clean and payment of room and board.

In most cases, an adult son or daughter living at home will want to help and will be willing to live by the house rules. However, there are also instances when he or she consistently refuses to keep the rules or to accept any responsibility. What then? It would be entirely reasonable and acceptable for you to ask him or her to move out. In this case, the child would likely try to instill guilt, but a godly parent who has tried in every way to make the living arrangement work should not feel guilty. You may feel sorrow, pain and regret, but do not feel guilty.

Father, give me wisdom in establishing boundaries and expectations while my adult child is living at home. I pray that he will honor me and my wishes and that this time together will be a good time of drawing closer to one another and to you. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D. 

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