Saturday, April 11, 2009

Should I Be Feeling Guilty?

Kyle is home for Easter. We found out yesterday he'd be joining us for 28 hours. He arrived shortly before lunch, which he did because we promised him it would be good. He has been here for about three hours. We went out for lunch and he came home and revealed to Bart that his job had been cut and he has to look for another one. Bart told me so I asked Kyle how long he had known. He said "about a month." and I said, "So you didn't think that was something we might have liked to know?" He said, "Oh. I thought I told you."

I haven't seen him since Christmas and he has only called us when he needed us. He makes it clear he hates to come home. It's a tough relationship for us sometimes. i've mentioned before that having him distance himself when he's never quite gotten the whole relationship piece, while it is age appropriate, is somewhat disconcerting.

So today he may have said five sentences to me personally and he says "So, you guys wanna buy me a suit" to which I did not reply favorably. I tried to explain myself but he just seemed indifferent and in a hurry to be done with our conversation.

I could never pop into someone's life and ask for something if I had not a continuous relationship with them. I would be ashamed and embarrassed to ask someone to buy me something if my own personal choices had made me broke (a spring break vacation to Cancun and a huge car repair bill that was due to ignoring warnings from his dad that he needed to get the tires aligned months ago).

So I said no. And now I feel guilty. Do we need to buy him things so that he will stay in touch with us? Do all parents get asked to buy their kids things forever, even if the kid is making more than his parents? And do parents feel bad if they say no? Is this what we have to look forward to as several of our other children become financially independent?


Carol E. said...

My bio DD is 28 and sort of behaves the same way... ignores me/us for a long time, and then calls when she needs something. She has a couple of invisible disabilities that I know have played a role in this. She has taken a long time to grow up; far more slowly than her peers. I try to comfort myself with this.. that eventually she will "get it" and will be more polite to us. I don't know if it will ever happen. It makes me very sad, too. And I feel guilty when I say no, because she makes a puny salary, and I know she has a hard time paying all her bills. But some of her decisions...... it's nuts. Very hard. You are definitely not alone in this.

flacius1551 said...

Not attractive behavior by any means, but still fairly common for this age, I think. There also may be class issues at work here--this is something that played a role in my relationship with my parents in this sense, that they grew up very poor and we grew up in the middle class, and so there were very different expectations about how money should be spent, exacerbated by being surrounded by other middle class families. It seems to be the case today that middle class families are still partially subsidizing their children well into their twenties and thirties.

That said, you should not be feeling guilty. Or rather, you should feel how you feel. It is what it is. One of the things Kyle has to learn (since he has never been this age before) is that he can't expect you to come up with the money in the way he might have five years ago, and that he has to plan/save not to be in this situation.

By saying this, I do not mean to justify Kyle's behavior or say "this is totally normal." It seems, again, like a position on the spectrum for this particular developmental stage. He will learn. So will you.

Cathi said...

I would indeed buy him the best suit available at the local thrift shop. I was able to buy my son a beautiful wool suit for $15 at Value Village...even after the drycleaning price it was a steal!
Good luck!

jcupcake said...

I second the thrift store suit. It's not too difficult to find a coat and matching pants (or even to match pants he already owns). I think I paid $25 for mine. I would have skipped the dry cleaning, because I really only needed the thing for an hour... but my parents decided otherwise :)