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Why I Stopped Saving My Children

14 September 2016 Written by 

Recently my daughter, Marcie, went to a concert 300 miles away through some rough terrain. She was driving there alone and I was a bit nervous, but I knew she was maturing and had made all the sensible choices:

  • Drove a safe car
  • Went a day early
  • Drove in the day time
  • Checked the weather
  • Had a place to stay before and after the concert

Everything seemed to be going according to plan, but if life went according to plan, we wouldn’t need recovery.

What Went Wrong

The concert was amazing and I was thrilled for her as I watched her snap chat story unfold during the performance. What I wasn’t so thrilled about was the picture of a T-shirt she purchased with the caption. “Just bought a T-shirt I so cannot afford.” I knew her funds were limited and a small red flag went up in my mother’s brain. She was due to drive home the next morning.

I left town to go visit a friend. I figured Marcie was all set and I could relax. I was so wrong.  

As I was having lunch with my friend I got “the Call.” Marcie was on a lonely stretch of highway and at a remote town’s only gas station. Her checking account was out of money and her credit card was not working. She asked if I would please, please, please put some gas money in her checking account. Her gas money had gone towards getting a $40 T-shirt the night before. I wrestled with my options and chose to loan her some money, because I felt her safety was a priority, but even after depositing the funds into her bank account she still was not able to get gas. She tried her credit card again and it still wasn’t working. Without any money I couldn't even call AAA for her. I suddenly realized how powerless I was to help my daughter. This was serious because she was traveling an isolated highway for the next 50 miles until there was another town. She had 150 miles of fuel left. I sighed and looked at my friend. He began to recite all the things she should have done to prevent this from happening:

  • Have a cash emergency fund at all times
  • Don’t depend on technology to save you
  • Not spend money you don’t have
  • Etc...

I was thinking all those things as well, but instead of yelling at Marcie I placed my hand on his arm and whispered, “Watch this and see why I go to meetings.”

What Went Right

I spoke calmly to Marcie’s hysterical rantings on the phone, “I know you are upset, but you need to do the next right thing. You have 150 miles of gas and you are 50 miles from the next town. Get to the next town and try your card there. It should work and if it doesn’t you will be 50 miles closer to home. You are not alone and I believe in you.” I had learned in my meetings my adult children do not want my scolding or nagging. They only wanted a cheer leader. In the past I would have wasted time reciting my daughter’s errors to her. Now I made a simple suggestion and tried to encourage her. Make no mistake, I was scared, but I knew two of us being scared would not help anyone. I also remembered hearing, “Our children on a spiritual journey and I am not invited.” This event was for her to learn something important. My Higher Power had done for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He had kept me from rescuing her and allowed her to feel the consequence of over spending without a bail out. 

Marcie calmed down and did make it to the next town safely and her card worked fine there. She arrived home happy and safe. I was relieved to see her, but a nagging feeling showed up the next day.
She still hadn’t paid me back.

What My Higher Power Did

I knew she was on a really tight budget, but I kept feeling that I was enabling her by not going into her account and taking out the money I had loaned her. On the third day back I quietly approached her and said I would be taking back my money out of her account. She looked shocked and said that would leave her with nothing. I knew that was true, but that nagging feeling kept me from making this easy on her. I knew my Higher Power was dealing with me to stop enabling her and the rest of my adult children with small bail outs.

  • Buying groceries because they had spent too much on going out
  • Paying the rest of someone’s rent because they had forgotten to plan better
  • Helping with a car payment so it wouldn't be late

What I Did

My stomach hurt and my knees went weak, but I took that money from her account without any further explanation. It was difficult, but I knew this was my lesson from my Higher Power.

While Marcie may have learned a budgeting lesson from her Higher Power, I learned quite a few things from Mine:

  • My adult kids do not need to be nagged
  • They need to be encouraged (A lot)
  • I need to stop enabling them in any way
  • My love is separate from my money

While every parent knows their child and what is best, I needed a lesson in respecting them enough to make their own decisions and facing my fear of being rejected if I didn't rescue them. It was hard, but freedom and growth don't come easily. Happily my Higher Power isn't afraid of helping me to find both.

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop

Read 650 times Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 19:45
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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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