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When To Let Go: The Dilemma Of Helping Or Hurting

04 March 2017 Written by 

This is the question. I can’t afford to support an adult child who’s bright and capable. Who can or should? But what do you do when a wonderful person, like my Madison, can’t seem to make it on her own, yet doesn’t want to follow any advice. Sound familiar? This happens in so many families I can’t begin to count. There are many issues to explore.

Out Of Work and Living On Couches

My youngest daughter, Madison, had a plan for her life after high school but she didn’t stick with it. Last year she tried a few jobs and had a place to live. This year she was supposed to go to college, but the paperwork never got done. Her lease was up in July and she was supposed to find a roommate. She didn’t do that either. She’s been out of work and living on people’s goodwill and couches for the past 2 months and hasn’t looked for a job in a week. Now I may be more worried than she is.

What’s A Mother To Do

My motherly instinct is to text Madison to tell her to get it together, find a job and a place to live. But I’ve advised her so many times before, and my advice hasn’t helped to move her forward. Now, without a job and without a home she relies on my “donations” to her bank account. They are not generous or often. She cooks and eats the same meal for 3-4 days until the food is gone. What is it with her? She seems to be living in a fantasy world, and I don’t know how to pop her imaginary world’s bubble with the needle of reality. But should I?

A Mother Wants To Fix

It’s confusing for a mom. I know what needs to be done. I want to fly in with my cape flapping in the breeze and fix everything. Get her a job, find her an affordable place to stay, and fill her fridge with foodstuff. I know so many ways to fix this and have the resources to make it so easy for Madison. But I have done this before for her, and she still finds a way to end up here at this place of indecision and confusion. The truth is I can’t force a solution.

Madison Needs More Help Than I Can Give her

Madison needs to change. But change has to come from within. I am powerless to make my daughter change into a responsible adult. Getting a job, finding a place to live, sticking with a plan are things nobody, not even a loving mother, can do for someone else. I am powerless and can’t force a solution that would stick for more than a minute.

The Facts Help To Inform My Own Decision

I have to face my own reality. Madison has some habits that cause these problems. One could say these habits are her decision. As the widow of a man who died of alcoholism, I also have to worry about Madison’s drinking and partying. Is this the reason for her problems. This time Madison stayed out too late with friends and showed up late for work. She got fired. She decided she didn’t like her roommates and let her room go without thinking about the future. Madison has to learn that her actions have consequences, but she may also have to explore the reasons behind her actions, and what she needs to do about it.

My Recovery Journey

I could get lost in worry and planning fixes and nagging, and paying for Madison’s decisions and worry about what she is up to. But that would not solve Madison’s problem, or help me take care of myself. I have a job, a family, and other people to love and care for. And I have myself to care for.

Letting Go

My children, and I have five, have faltered at times. One son had to work through a DUI and got fired for sleeping on a night shift. The story of how I dealt with him is here. Read his story here.  He was briefly homeless. I helped him when he was actively helping himself. Now he is stable, has a home, and a job. Kudos to him. Now, I have to take the same actions with Madison. If she wants to party, she can’t have a stable life. That is a choice she needs to understand, and only she can make. A job alone won’t get this issue fixed.

Recovery, Letting Go, Prayer

Letting go is a difficult process. Any child will tug at a mother’s heartstrings. It’s horrible to think that a child is without a home and hungry. Detachment helps to diffuse those feelings of guilt, and wish to make everything all right. Naturally, I go from feelings of abandonment (since she won’t listen to me) to relief that she is in her Higher Power’s hands. Letting go is uncomfortable. That’s my issue.

With the help of my program, I pray that I will continue to do the right and hard thing so Madison can ultimately face all her issues and grow.

And truly isn’t love doing the hard things for the people we love. Watching Madison struggle and not giving advice or my opinion is by far one of the hardest things I have done. Should I question her about using. That’s another article.

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop:

 

Read 6446 times Last modified on Monday, 03 April 2017 11:13
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Madeline Schloop

Madeline is the widow of a man who died of alcoholism and the mother of 5 young adults whom she parents with the tools of Al-Anon. Her children continue to be affected by the disease of alcoholism. Her stories  deal with life's daily trials and what has and hasn't worked.
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