How do you parent adult children who are not quite grown up?
How do you deal with a 20 year-old daughter who has left college and recently moved to her girlfriend’s house to live? She has also left her part time job. She will soon be running out of money. What can I do to help her? She was living at home but says my rules are for 13 year-olds. I am very concerned over her state of mind – should I just let her continue on this path until she hits bottom? Please help.
You are right on! This might sound tough or insensitive, but your daughter is an adult now, and needs to be treated as such. If she says your rules are for 13 year-olds and she wants to be treated as an adult, then I say, treat her as one. She is choosing her path, and you need to allow her to experience all the joy and hurt of her path. Bailing her out would be the worst thing you could do as a parent. All you would teach her is that she can do whatever she wants, lose as much money, get into any kind of trouble, and mom will just step in and take care of her problems.
I know you want to take care of your daughter, it feels evident from your question. What I’m saying is that allowing her to suffer the consequences of her own decisions is the best thing you could do for your daughter. Your job is to love and encourage her. If you disagree with what she is doing, then, if she allows you to, you lovingly give her your idea. But you don’t want to force your own opinions on her, but rather try and influence with permission. If she hits bottom, it will be her fault and no one else’s. But if you try and step in to protect her, she then has the opportunity to blame you for her troubles and to dismiss any responsibility.
If she comes running for money, and she might, you let her know as lovingly as possible that non-thirteen year-olds don’t come to mommy asking for money!