Letting Go of Our Adult Children

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I was recently asked by a very dear friend of mine to write something to the women who are struggling with letting go of their adult children. As a mother myself and a codependent by nature, I could completely relate to this topic. I by no means get it right in this area all the time but I am continually practicing when the opportunity presents itself.

When we become mothers, everything in our being is focused on raising, helping, and developing our young children. We want to protect them from the dangers of the world and the bad choices they are bound to make. When they are young, that is our job, but there comes a time when we need to let go and allow our adult children to live their own lives and own the consequences of their choices, no matter how difficult it may be. 

It is so hard to watch our adult children struggle in life, no matter what the situation is. We want to help them and guide them back onto the right path, but there comes a time when it becomes enabling and destructive to both our children and ourselves. When we bail them out of a jam or try to soften the consequences for them, we are enabling them to continue to do the things they are doing because they know we will come to the rescue at any given moment. I am not saying that we are not to help our adult children ever; I am saying that when they continue to make the same bad choices or display the same bad behaviors over and over, we need to realize that we are giving them a good reason not to change because they know we’ll help them out with whatever they need, however we can, regardless of the consequences to our own lives.

What does that do to us? We spend nights crying, days worrying, depleting our own finances and damaging relationships with others because we are so focused on our adult child. When your world is obsessed with worrying and rescuing your adult children, then something needs to change and that change begins with you. It may take distancing yourself from them, stopping the cash flow and excuse making, kicking them out of your home, or any number of things, but it has to start with you. You need to love and respect yourself enough to not allow your adult children to bring chaos into your life. You did your job and now it is time for them to take responsibility for their own lives and consequences. They are “adults” now and it is time for them to spread their wings and fly, or crash and burn. We cannot control the landing. All we can do is pray for them, offer our opinions and advice (only when asked for), and be there to support them emotionally when the consequences fly.

God loves your children more than you ever can and His plan for them is something we will never understand. He knows the path they are walking and He knows the pain you are going through because of it, but it is not all for nothing. Trust your adult children to Him. Place them in His capable hands and continue to pray for them. Focus your energy on those loved ones doing the right things around you and stop letting those that are not, drain the life out of you.

I have been there, not only with my adult child, but also with a husband. I have experienced much of the pain you are going through. I try my hardest to not allow this to happen to me again because as much as it hurts, I have to allow others (and that includes my adult children) to live their own lives and suffer their own consequences. That is the only way they God can shape them into who He created them to be. It’s His job, not yours. I hope you can find peace in that truth as I have.

4 replies »

  1. DEAR TERRI,
    THIS IS ONE OF YOUR BEST WRITINGS YET, and I THINK IT IS A NECESSARY WAKEUP FOR ALL PARENTS. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR WISDOM WITH ALL OF US!!
    Shari

    Like

  2. Hi I am Rhonda. A mother of 3 adult sons and am very codependent. Also, a victim/almost survivor of child sexual abuse. Often I feel very alone. 58 years old. Live winters in SW Florida and summers in Michigan.

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