Into everyone’s life, there comes a difficult child. In the olden days, they were sometimes called the black sheep of the family. The child that rebels against family values. Extremely independent, but insensitive to others’ needs, it can be a real struggle to interest this person in communicating with parents or siblings. These individuals sometimes emotionally and physically divorce themselves and want nothing to do with the family.
The first question of any parent is What did I do or NOT do to create this child that I no longer recognize? That’s called taking things personally and leads nowhere, except down. If there’s one principle constant in life, it’s that PEOPLE WILL CHANGE over time. A parent can only give raising a child his or her best effort. Rebellious children sometimes grow into responsible individuals. Other times, they can get hooked exploring addictions or alternate life styles which can derail their lives. They become lost or so it seems.
It would be wonderful if there was a MAGIC principle to apply for any family to assure happiness; but everyone has agency to choose his or her path in life. Reaching out and keeping contact with the straying ones to reassure them of your love as a parent or grandparent may be the only hope of bringing them back into the fold and security of the family. Blaming yourself doesn’t work. I know I’ve tried it. Letting them experience the consequences of their decisions isn’t easy, but necessary.
You’d like to spare your offspring the struggle of learning the hard way, but sometimes it’s not possible. Being a good example and teaching family values patiently is the only way. Be a source of love and comfort. I have seen some parents RESCUE a child time after time without offering any counsel or advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of life. It’s important that parents understand that continuing to enable a weak child to be rescued from consequences of poor choices can lead to co-dependency. It may be necessary for a parent or grandparent to TAKE A STAND to encourage an adult child to take responsibility for their own welfare. Words of encouragement, a listening ear are priceless, while bailing them out of yet another disaster can just build a pattern of irresponsibility––all too familiar in this me generation. NEXT TIME: Failure or Faith.