My high school English teacher Mrs. Ermel, a stickler for proper pronunciation and grammar, said, “You raise chickens. You rear children.” She longed for the Texas teens she taught to develop good language skills, and she wanted us to learn the difference between the words “raise” and “rear.” Ms. Ermel gave a life lesson that I still remember: there is a vast difference in tossing chicken feed to yard birds and the attentive rearing of children.
One of the greatest heartaches to parents is to watch an adult child go astray. Some wander just off the proven path while others hit the bottom of deep ravines. Adult children’s failures create ripples of suffering, guilt, remorse, what-if’s, and more for parents. Some parents recognize their enabling trends and that their children could have benefited from experiencing failure. Other parents may have reared three outstanding citizens, only to have a fourth child rebel from family teachings. Good parenting is difficult to practice without support.
Evil abounds. And too many young adults get ensnared in wrong ideals, addictive substances, and thoughts of entitlement. Broken hearted parents stand on the sidelines and watch the destructive behavior of adult children, wondering how they can best respond to the situation, wondering how they can restore their own sanity and peace.
Allison Bottke, author of “Setting Boundaries with Your adult Children,” shares six steps that offer hope and healing for struggling parents. Through her own experience with a prodigal son, she advises other hurting parents. She covers many areas of coping with the heartache of out-of-control adult children. It is an excellent source for parents who long to regain their sanity.
For those of you still parenting teens, I’ll share some preventive-concepts. The following eleven rules have been attributed to Bill Gates as part of a talk to high school and college graduates. No matter who wrote them, they might help your teens avoid a pitfall:
One, life is not fair, get used to it. Two, the world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. Three, you will not make $40,000. a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.
Four, if you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. Five, flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping; they called it opportunity. Six, if you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Seven, before you were born, your parents weren’t boring. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try "delousing" the closet in your own room. Eight, your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. Some schools have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
Nine, life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time. Ten, television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. Eleven, be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
A new support group is forming in Montgomery County, Texas to help struggling parents set boundaries with their adult children, regain their sanity, and to offer special hope because “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). If you wish to talk to the facilitator, send me an email at writecat at consolidated dot net and I’ll forward your message along to this group.