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 one...no "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.