Parenting adult children can be an exhausting experience. My step-son, nearly 22 years old has lived with my husband and I for almost a year following some serious trouble with the law. He is now serving 3 years of probation which has very specific guidelines to keep him out of trouble. The consequence to violation of these rules? Jail. 7 years. Serious stuff.
But he takes it very lightly these days. Having focused and taken very positive steps in the beginning, he has slipped backwards and it frightens me, frustrates me, and infuriates me.
My rules for him are simple…
1. Treat us with respect.
2. Follow the rules of your probation.
Apparently, those are very difficult things to ask of someone who thinks they are completely invincible. Oh sure he comes home every night, but not until he darn well pleases, which is usually 3 or 4am. He often lies about where he’s been and then gets very defensive when we question him and catch him in his lies. All the while, we are taking care of his dog who desperately needs attention and a lot of it. He requires a good deal of effort and it gets frustrating. I lie awake countless nights, worried and sleep deprived.
I’m sure you are thinking… why not just talk to him and tell him what you expect. We have. A million times. And he just nods and says he will change and he then goes on doing whatever he wants without even the smallest regard to my sleepless nights filled with worry, anger, and his cute dog crowding my bed.
Why not just kick him out and leave him to deal with things on his own, perhaps you’re thinking. The thought of that sparks yet more worry in my heart for his lack of care and concern for his own life and what his choices may mean. But I do realize that I can only save him if we wants to be saved.
How do you help someone who won’t help himself? How do you keep being patient and loving, which I know is what God would want me to be? Why should I sacrifice things in my life for his selfish behavior? How do I not just frickin’ lose my marbles during all of this?
The answers to those questions completely escape me. I pray about it. I ask friends for guidance. I cry about it. And I pray about it a little more. But at the end of the day, I am feeling taken advantage of, unloved, disrespected, and stepped on.