Kim Muench, Becoming Me Thought Leader
What are the best steps to take when you see your adult child suffer or fail?
There are varying degrees of failing, my advice would be the same. Whether we are talking about your adult child losing their job, being picked up for drunk driving, or even getting divorced.
There is a basic difference between helping our kids and enabling them. Helping is doing something for someone they cannot do on their own and it is occasional. Enabling is doing something for someone they can and should do for themselves. And it happens repeatedly, becoming a pattern of behavior.
“This was a period of time for me to understand when I should step in and fix things.”
We love our kids and always want to support them. What we don’t want to do is accept or contribute to their unhealthy behavior or choices.
Between 2008-2010 I was parenting my 20-year-old son through his active addiction to alcohol. This was a period of time for me to understand when I should step in and fix things (like bail him out of jail, or give him money for rent). And when I should allow the natural consequences of his choices and behavior to allow him to learn the life lesson.
The first thing that helped me greatly in this dark, difficult period of time in our relationship was to get better connected to my own intuition. All parents have this ability. But sometimes we get so anxious or hear a lot of outside noise (advice from well-meaning family and friends) we aren’t tapping into it.
“Use your intuition to guide your words and actions.”
Intuition Is Quiet:
So, first and foremost, begin to spend some time in a quiet space every day and ask yourself the question. “What’s the next step for me to take here?” Then, listen. Intuition is quiet and comes up from your heart space. Anxiety, on the other hand, is face-paced chatter in your head. It takes some practice, especially depending on the severity of the situation. But with time you can sharpen your intuition. Use your intuition to guide your words and actions.
Next, depending on your situation, ask yourself. If, and then how, you have contributed to the current set of circumstances. In my case, I was in denial for some time about my son’s lack of regular contact with me. I was writing off his behavior as “normal” young adult distancing. When there were some signs and my gut was telling me there was something else going on. Don’t ignore your gut momma! It’s important to acknowledge how your actions in the past might have contributed to the present. But don’t get stuck here, that can lead to anxiety, guilt, and continuing enabling behavior.
“If you do too much they will not grow; yet it’s important for your child to know you love them..”
Get Clear With Yourself And Your Adult Child:
Get very clear with yourself and your adult child on what how you are willing to support them through their difficult chapter. If you do too much they will not grow; yet it’s important for your child to know you love them no matter what mistakes or choices they’ve made.
Most of what I did for my son during those years was to listen to his endless phone calls and hold space for his feelings. I also navigated our health insurance company because he was on our policy. I did not bail him out of jail, I did not give him rent money. Moreover, I did occasionally drive 3.5 hours one direction to take him to lunch and to get some groceries. I told him often I believed in him and that I loved him no matter what.
Parenting Adult Children – The Difficulty Is Real:
It can be incredibly difficult for any parent to hold space for an adult child going through a difficult chapter in life. We love our kids and want to protect them from harm, but it doesn’t serve them to do too much for them.
I work with parents of kids 15+ on a regular basis through hard situations. Helping them establish boundaries and learn to rebuild trust in the relationship. If I can be of service, please feel free to reach out.
About the Author:
Kim Muench (pronounced minch, like pinch with an “m”) is a Jai (rhymes with buy) Institute for Parenting Certified Conscious Parenting Coach who specializes in working with mothers of adolescents (ages 10+). Knowing moms are the emotional barometer in their families, Kim is passionate about educating, supporting and encouraging her clients to raise their children with intention and guidance rather than fear and control. Kim’s three plus decades parenting five children and years of coaching other parents empowers her to lead her clients into healthier, happier, more functional relationships with compassion and without judgment.