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transforming relationships: experiences with your adult children and new husband

August 7, 2012

Sometimes it is difficult transitioning into a different relationship with your child when they become adults. There are decisions to make, lives to lead, people to influence and be influenced by… … etc. I expect my adult children will grow and change, after all, if I’m honest, I’m still changing and am not who I was even five years ago. The role of a parent with adult children is mostly an observer, (with some physical and emotional support thrown in for good measure). I would not say that my children and I are “friends.” Some people will scoff at this. There is too much “child parent” relationship for us to actually be “friends,” like their other friends. Additionally, my mother and I are certainly close (depending on the day), but I would not call us “friends,” or “peers.” This is because she has had experiences that I have not. Her peer group is comprised of those with similar backgrounds and I will never belong to it because most of our experiences together are that of parent and child, not of adult to adult. maybe this is just a short coming of ours. But, I am not saddened by this. It is what it is. and, I feel quite secure in this type of relationship with her, as I hope my daughter does with me. I don’t think this takes anything away from our relationship.
My daughter has been married since April 1st. The impressive shell has come off and I can see the struggles that her and her husband are facing. No, there are no real concerns: such as physical violence, domination or adultery. But, I do see her struggle, nonetheless. And, in some circumstances, I see where our husbands (no my husband is not her father, so it makes it kind of interesting), are similar. Because I have only been married 23months, I can see that both of us women “are” having some of the same experiences with our husband. Instead of bonding, however, it makes it a bit awkward for us. I am not the kind of mother in-law who bashes her son-in-law or actively takes any sides. I know that she must navigate these waters, herself. But, sometimes, I worry about her and the person that she might become as a result.
then, there is the Navy Captain (he is not really a Captain, it just sounds good — but he is in the navy), who is trying to generate more money by embarking on a sales career. He thought he could save us money, but after learning the business loopoles, found out that he can’t. Still, part of me wants to sign up for some of his services to help him get a hefty commission. Yet, DH is having none of that! And, this is where the “new husband” comes into play.
I, as the mother, am much more emotional about my children. I want to help them when I can. This includes financially. We are not making a lot of money now, but more than I made as a single parent. The natural inclination is to want to help your children financially, especially when you (I) were not able to do this before. I now have a bit more cash at my disposal and I want to share it with my children who probably need it. the problem is that I have a new family: husband and child. He is a bit more strict about where the money is being spent. He feels that I am coddling my children and should insist that they pay for all of their expenses on their own. My married daughter has no problem with this, ditto for the Navy captain. But, I do have a Mr. Basketball who is still in college.
There are two problems with his thinking:
1. when he was in college, there were literally at least twenty people who either gave him money or assistance/services/things that should have required money, but didn’t. No, his parents did not send money. but, there were many other people who did. And, to this day, his mother still sends him clothes so he doesn’t have to go and buy any. Hmm, (reflection) I am not sure she sends packages with the same frequency and eagerness to his sister as she does to him! [ another interesting piece of the puzzle on their sibling relationship to analyze].
Anyway, Yes, DH did work, which helped. But, if you are playing a sport and trying to keep up your grades, sometimes, working is not an option. Actually, if you have received any money as scholarship for playing a sport, then, it is kind of like you working for that scholarship. But, even so, he has some back rent and other such bills to pay.
2. when I have a resource, I want to share it, not hoard it. this is a general difference between DH and I. I don’t frivolacely spend money. I do many things to save money. We don’t go out frequently. I am not a compulsive shopper. But, I do want to help where there is a need and being a mother, I feel responsible for helping my children. OK, not overly responsible in the way that I am responsible for all of their bills and/or their decisions. But, if I have something and they “need” it, I feel a desire and a duty to give it.
DH, not being their father, feels no such duty and I believe even resents their neediness.
This leaves me in the middle because I want to help, but feel my hands are tied. And, “no” DH has never directly “forbid,” me from giving them help in the form of money or otherwise. But, he complains about it and sometimes even pouts for days. “(how mature, who’s the child)”. [But, that last statement is me venting and actually is not a helpful statement to advance the discussion].
Putting this back on the parenting subject, I feel that this is one of the things that strains the bonds between me and my adult children. thus, it makes me cling to my little one even more fervently. I need to be careful not to redirect or displace feelings in such a way that it becomes unhealthy. That is, I can’t make my decisions about the baby as an emotional reaction to the situations with his siblings. There is a fine line between understanding your current situation and experience so that you will make every attempt not to recreate it … … and overreacting to situations with your current child to either make up for or try to prevent past challenges from reoccuring. this might not make any sense to anyone else. and, is certainly not a typical “parenting post.” Yet, is is quite relevant.

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