Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adjustment Period

I've mentioned recently that our oldest son just turned 18 and graduated from high school. Both in the same week. It was a momentous week and of course, we are so proud and happy for him.

Having said that, it seems we have now entered an adjustment period. An uncomfortable, stressful, confusing adjustment period. Son is thinking, "Whoo Hoo! I'm 18. I've graduated. I can do whatever I want and stay out as late as I want." Parents are thinking, "hmmm, what is wrong with him, thinking he can do whatever he wants and stay out as late as he wants?" It's posing some big challenges for us as we try to navigate this new phase of our child's life.

Yes, we realize he is 18 and he deserves some freedoms. Generally, his curfew is between midnight and 1:00 a.m. We do require that he lets us know where he's at/who he's with, etc. But, if he has to work the next morning or attend a school function (he's doing some summer class stuff at a community college), we want him home earlier than midnight. And, we don't think he should be out running around every single night. He thinks that is totally unreasonable. Is it? Should we let him stay out late and let him deal with the fact that he might feel grumpy and tired the next morning when it's time for work or school?

We still expect him to do a few things around the house - cleaning his room, putting his laundry away, cutting the grass. Truthfully, we've never really asked that much of our kids in the way of household responsibilities and I think that's a big parenting mistake that we made. But, that's a post for another day. Back to our son. He is out and about doing his thing, having a good ol' time and then complaining when we have to "remind him several times" that the lawn needs to be cut.

He's a good kid. He works a part-time job, which he's been at for a year and a half. He pays to put gas in his car. He pays part of his auto insurance. He pays for most of his "fun" stuff - going to the movies, out to eat, etc. For the most part, he hangs around a good bunch of kids. He's never done anything (that we know of) to get himself into real trouble.

I think it's just time to "cut the cord" so to speak. I still do basically everything for my son. I wash his clothes and make sure he has a clean uniform to wear to work and I set my alarm to wake him every morning. I even balance his checkbook. At this point, I think know it's only hurting him that I continue doing these things for him. If he had to make it on his own, I would be afraid to see what happened. It's just so hard to let go, and tell him he has to do those things for himself. I'm such a control freak that I can hardly stand the thought of his checkbook being out of whack (even though he needs to learn to do it on his own, even if it becomes a big mess for him). Its wrong of me, but I know if I do it myself, it will be done right and I won't have to stress about it. But, as I said, that's not helping him in the long run.

We will get through this little adjustment period, I'm sure. Figuring out a way to balance his freedoms and responsibilities with our expectations. It might be a bumpy road, but we will figure it out.

I would love to hear some opinions if you've got kids this age (or if you are a kid this age). I'm so interested to know how other parents deal with their kids getting older...


Hug a tree with me said...

My mom is going thru a issue such as this, my younger sister just turned 19 and is away at university but she goes bk home for summer, she stays out all night and doesnt tell my mom where she is going. I told my mom to give a a curfew and tell her to call to check in and if she doesnt listen then take her keys away.....You are not being unfair, no matter what age he is he is still your son and yes he has to figure life out for himself but it is in your mothering genes to always want to protect and care for him......BTW i love your blog:) following from bloggymoms, check me out at if you wish