I would love to hear more about what life looks like to age out with brain issues. Causes, effects, what works, what doesn't (and why), ideas to try etc. I would like to have a better idea of what improves with time, fewer hormones, more awareness and what might get worse. Almost all of our kids age out. What happens ever after?
I should begin by stating that as in every situation, every child is unique and this has certainly been true of the 5 "adults" we currently are parents to. As our children hit "adulthood" they do so in varying ways. However, here are some things that you can look forward to. The first set are things that as parents we can have a paradigm shift about. We can change OUR thinking and thus our approach.
1) You are no longer legally responsible for them. This is so freeing. It has changed my perspective in several ways. No longer do we HAVE to accompany them to court hearings (even though we still do). We don't have to worry about their false allegations resulting in child protection investigations, because they are no longer children.
2) They are not required to live at home. I have found it quite freeing to be able to say, when they are complaining about something that they hate at the house, "you don't have to live here. You're free to go at any time."
3) ANything that is done for them is now a gift even if they don't see it as such. I remind my "adult" children sometimes, that we are not required any more to provide them with anything. What we are doing for them is strictly because we love them, not because anyone is making us do it. This may sound harsh and unnecessary to people who are raising neurotypical kids, but for kdis with RAD who are always calculating what they are "owed" this strikes a cord that seems to make sense to them.
4) It's all on them. While I am willing to give advice when asked and help out when it is necessary, I put all the responsibility back on my kids when they become "adults." They ask me how to get out of a mess and I ask them to tell me what they are thinking. I remind them of their "adult status" and ask them to articulate what they are going to do. I make it clear that I cannot force them to do anything anymore because they are adults so they have to make their own choices.
Now, some things that I have seen change in some of our kids as they mature:
1) Yes, the finally start to figure some things out. Slowly, as they are faced with their own adulthood, they start to put pieces together. Well, at least some of them. Kinda. :-)
2) They do a lot less blaming. I have found that my kids do less complaining and blaming of me when I continue to put things back on them. I remind them of the choices they have made and they do less arguing than they used to as teenagers.
3) They ask for advice more and actually listen to it. Something happens and suddenly parents are a resource instead of idiots. But this only takes place if they are asking for the advice, not if it is unsolicited.
4) They begin to put together some connection between their own actions and the consequences. They blame us less, I think, though they still have moments of "this is all your fault".
The years from 18-25 are tough ones for anyone, and our kids who have all these challenges, are going to face tough stuff. They will make mistakes. They are going to stumble and fall several times. As parents we can help by standing alongside and offering a non-anxious presence as they bumble through the consequences of their choices.
I have found myself free of the blame that I had when they were children and able to disengage much more quickly from their nonsense. I am no longer responsible to know where they are or what they are doing, and that is freeing to me. I no longer feel like I have to give them money for non-essentials (not that I've ever done much of that, but they could guilt-trip me, or try to, when they were younger).
I am not sure how much different THEY are, but my entire view is different for my adult children who have graduated from high school. Now it is their time to make it or break it... my major parenting responsibility, according to the law is done. That means that I am free to give anything and everything I want to, but i don't HAVE to do it.
There is a fine line between support and enabling, and I'm not sure we always do it right. But we try.
Wow, what a bunch of random thoughts. Do any of them make sense or ring true with any of you?