Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Getting to the Point Where you Just Have to Hang on for the Ride

Have been talking to a number of adoptive parents lately and read blogs of adoptive parents who have children in the transition phase -- from ages 16-30 or whatever -- who have been pulling their hair out watching these kids make all kinds of foolish choices. And, in the midst of the stupidity, the hatred and anger and blame is coming their way.

We're at a bit of a reprieve from all that as MIke is in prison where only letters can make it here and lately he wants something so they have not been angry or blaming. The others over 18 are not blaming us and are doing fairly well, though they still make choices we don't agree with or understand.

My newest philosophy is that by the time a kid is 13 or 14, if they haven't figured it out, they aren't going to for a long time. It's as though the brain's ability to function simply disappears when puberty sets in and it doesn't reappear until mid or late twenties. The additional stress of identity formation when a person is adopted and has a history of abuse and neglect or attachment issues seems to make them crazier and less able to make a healthy decision.

My previous method was to do my best to stop them from ruining their lives and to warn, cajole, threaten, and talk on and on about what they needed to do. But having done that for years and realizing that it hasn't made a bit of difference, I've finally decided to just approach it as though I'm going to come along for the ride.

There are times when I simply cannot keep my mouth shut. I am compelled to comment. But I am done thinking that any words I say are going to have any immediate affect. Years down the road, possibly, but not now.

It makes it a bit easier for me to take that pressure off myself. Instead of saying, "you are NOT going to run away" and doing everything I can to prevent it, I simply say, "I realize you are old enough and big enough to make your own choices. Here is what will happen if you do."

I can control my decisions not theirs. So I explain that if you are not living under my roof without my permission then you do not get my financial support. I explain if you choose to run away you won't have rides to work. I explain that if you are under 18 you will not have my permission to live somewhere else and if you leave I will report you missing.

But I cannot stop them from going nor can I stop them from a myriad of other bad choices they might make.

And coming to this conclusion has somehow freed me. I'm going to have to just ride along, comment once and a while, and shield myself from pain when they blame me.

But I'm not the one making bad choices.


Cindy said...

You're right, but I'd lower that age estimate to 12-30...and I have a 32 year old that's still an adolescent.

obladi oblada said...

What you said makes tons of sense to me. Mine are only 10, 8 and 6, but I realize those times are ahead of me, and I think what you said will help ease that pressure for sure. You are right!

Fostermama said...

Heck mine are only 4 and 2 and I already see that freight train coming. My daughter is in pre-K and they've already called me three times to come pick her up for raging and scaring the kids and teachers.

I just keep thinking what am I going to do when she is big enough to hurt others during her rages?