Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just Ask Joyce: “I resent my wayward daughter.”

Q: “Help! I think I hate my 20-year-old daughter. She has been the biggest disappointment in my life. I wasn’t the perfect mom, but I have done a much better job than other moms I know. After divorcing her dad, I remarried four years later, introducing other children into the household. I then had a serious illness for a couple of years. In the meantime, my daughter went wild. She became a drug addict, got pregnant, and I am now rearing her baby. My marriage is suffering, my health is failing, and I continue to have to rear a grandchild. My daughter is unmanageable and disorderly, and I have spent too many dollars on bailing her out of jail. I resent her, am angry at her, and really feel guilty for everything. Can you help me find a reason not to hate her?”

Joyce: I would not categorize your emotion as hatred. Let’s simply label it as “misplaced love.”

You’ve described a lot of history without painting us the full picture. It sounds as if your child has been through serious infractions in her brief lifetime: a loss of a dad, a replacement father, an incorporation of new siblings, a change in lifestyle, and a kid having a kid.

I am by no means excusing your daughter’s behavior. I am, however, bringing to light how extreme challenges presented to a child have been channeled into a disruption of not only her life but the lives of those associated with her.

What’s done is done. You can’t bring back even one second of time. So, let’s figure a way out of this plight.
  1. Why chase a prodigal who doesn’t want to be caught? When your daughter “comes to her senses,” she will need to find you waiting patiently with open arms. But pursuing someone whose will you cannot control is a fruitless waste of time, energy, and resources. Prayer would be wisely spent, and it’s likely the only investment with promise.
  2. The only thing worse than an empty nest is a lonely bed. Why suffer another loss of a loved one? Your husband deserves the attention you are devoting to your daughter. There is still time to salvage what the two of you began. Stop worrying about what your 20-year old is doing and focus on your marriage.
  3. Take away a life lesson from your past mistakes. You have an opportunity to avoid repeating history because you see the damage life’s distractions can cause. You have new life in your home, and with that comes a new slate of responsibilities. Yes, as a grandparent, it’s exhausting to consider that you might be in the child-rearing season for another round. But when you assess the alternatives for your grandchild’s precious life, your strength can renew.
  4. Take into account the fatigue that accompanies rearing young children. Making sure “Granddad” is around to help is another reason to ensure that your marriage stays strong and vital.
  5. It’s time to respect yourself. Put aside the anxiety pressing upon you of what should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve been. It’s time to take care of “Mama/Grandmama.” If your health fails, what will the family do? I stress that not to add additional fear in your life, but to impress upon you the value of your worth.
  6. Set boundaries. Don’t jump through hoops to accommodate schedules for visitation, which often happens in grandparents-rearing-children scenarios. Plans should be made with the best interest of the child in mind and should be convenient for your family unit, not the ease of the child’s mother and/or father. I understand court orders could dictate differently, but if you have custody, a judge will typically consider the best interest of the child.
  7. Make tough decisions. If you haven’t sought legal custody, you should. If a mom and/or dad is an unfit parent, you should entertain gaining custodial rights while they are disinterested in being tied down. All too soon the tide could turn, and if you do not have primary custody, the circumstances could change drastically for you and the child. It’s difficult to admit that our sons or daughters are irresponsible adults, but when helpless children need an advocate, the responsible ones must take charge.
Remember: Don’t mistake disappointment, regret, and misplaced love for hatred. I believe you would be the first to admit that should your daughter return to you clean and responsible, you would be the next in line – after her child – to welcome her home.

Change your life … NOW! Write Joyce Oglesby, Family-Life Fitness Pro™, at joyce@justaskjoyce.com. I’m here to help! Check out my books and other resources today at JustAskJoyce.com. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and get connected to great family nourishing ideas.

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