Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grieving for my family of four

Last summer when our children seemed to take a VERY long time to gain employment, Mr. P and I discussed our financial culpibility with respect to their lack of sticktoitedness. I remember being very financially stressed for most of my adult life, and I really, really wanted to spare them that particular stress so they could concentrate on school. I didn't pay for everything, because I think working is important---we left them to pay for their electricity and cable and food and $140 each for their rent, and I would pay the remainder ($200 of their rent, car insurance, car repairs, cell phones, medical stuff). We made this deal when they both had full scholarships and were getting about half again their tuition refunded to them for expenses.

Over time, they lost those scholarships due to lack of attending their classes (from what I gather). Mr. P and I downsized significantly so that we could absorb more of their finances...granted we were ready to move, but I was too chicken to buy a house in case the kids needed money. It became the norm that I paid all the rent for both of them every month without a word from either "is there work I can do for you" or "thank you so much for covering us" no nothing, and I kept paying it. And in restrospect, I shouldn't have allowed that to go on for so long.

Now I am grieving for the life I wanted them to have. I wanted them to leave college with a great undergrad and no debt, with some financial stress to learn the value of a dollar, but not enough that they lay awake at night trying to figure out what to sell on Ebay to keep the power on. That life is gone. Mr. P and I did the best we could, and apparently we just didn't get the job done, and unfortunately that means my kids are starting their adult lives without the solid base of education that I would have preferred.

As of March 1, 2011 I am no longer paying any bills for my kids. That was a VERY hard decision to come to and after I told them last night I cried. CRIED hard, first reaction to grieving, right? Well denial is likely first, which is what I did for a long time when I just paid for stuff regardless of their school progress.

So they have 2 months (really 3, since I will pay bills on March 1) to figure out their finances and get employment at a level that will support their spending habits. I have two months (really 3) to let go of being a parent to a child and instead become a parent to an adult. And while I think both kids really want that, I think we are all going to struggle with how that changes the family dynamic.

BYE "Family of Four". We had a great run.

Now we are a family of TWO with two adult children.

It is time.


wafelenbak said...

I think this is a very fair agreement.
I STILL feel horrible about choices I made early in my 20's. I moved to Chicago on my own dime but constantly asked to borrow money. My mom was furious when she found out about my first tattoo--largely because it was during a time when I was asking them for money. And tattoos are not cheap.
But, there is hope. I settled down in my 30's and manages my finances very well and am constantly trying to pay my parents back for what I borrowed and they won't have it. My hope for you is that in 10 years (or, hopefully less) everyone will have just forgiven and forgotten.

Tammie said...

im so sorry youve had to make these tough choices. i really hope this is going to be a learning experience for your kids.

i dont know if this will make you feel any better, but i know of two seperate families who have adult children living with them and for who they pay all the expenses. (and by adult, i mean people nearing 40). both sets of parents have now been lamenting the fact that this is at least partially their fault for letting it go on as long as they did and for "helping" as much as they did. at this point, they feel as if they are stuck with these kids/men who are just hopeless and helpless.

i cant even begin to imagine how hard it was to make some of the recent decisions you've had to make, but i think you did the right thing. hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What an awesomely scary thought, in so many ways. You are doing the right thing, no matter how hard or frightening it is. Helping them by having them learn to take care of themselves is a tremendous gift. I wish you all well in the process.

PS - Can I throw in a totally inappropriately timed WAR EAGLE??!!! 11 more days, baby!

Swistle said...

This is so hard. And I'm so grateful to you for writing about it.

Amy said...

I think you are doing a very intelligent thing for them. You're still supportive of them. And you're giving them plenty of warning. I'm sure it was a very difficult decision.

Anonymous said...

It is time. You have been their security blanket long enough. And better now, while they have relatively little ties (compared to a house & children later on) & their credit/financial savvy/etc. can bounce back with little to no harm done. Many people don't know this lesson until their 30s (me!) or worse, when they are retirement age. Stay strong!

Shelley said...

Doing the right thing is hard, especially knowing that your children (they may be "adults" but they are always our children) will struggle. Just like you taught them right from wrong when they were little, you are teaching them another valuable lesson. Wonder if they realize it pains you as much as it pains them? Probably not, yet. But you have to do it. And I think you've given them ample notice...good luck, stay strong, and enjoy your "new" family.

Anonymous said...

You are still a family of four and always will be. You are just not enabling them any more. And to be honest I think your original plan of paying half of some of their expenses and making them pay others was very reasonable. It required much more responsibility from them than my parents required of me when I went off to college.

I think as part of accepting that your children are adults now, you should stop blaming yourself for THEIR bad choices this year. You got them through to the point where they had full college scholarships and part of their rent and bills paid, and they made silly young people choices. If they are adults, those choices are not your fault or your burden.

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