Tough-Love and Its Benefits
When my daughter turned 18, she struggled with honoring the rules of our household. Many chances were given for her to fall in line, but ultimately the day came when a line had to be drawn in the sand.
We gave her 3 months to find somewhere else to live, and she chose to move out that day. Our big gripe? Please don’t smoke weed in our home. We left spray on the front step so that we didn’t have to smell it in the house if she would smoke it outside, and we tried to explain our standpoint. We gave her many chances to come correct. In our daughter’s world, we were unlike any of her friend’s parents and were way too strict. In our world, this meant she wasn’t hanging out with friends I would approve of if their parents would allow this behavior in their home.
Taking a stand on this issue has caused me a lot of grief. She moved out 6 years ago and still has never forgiven us for this boundary. She doesn’t spend holidays with us, doesn’t call or wish either of us a Happy Birthday, and recently she had a baby and didn’t share that with us either. I learned she was pregnant by happenstance.
I have questioned myself on this decision many times. What was the alternative? What other options did we have?
Healthy boundaries between children and their parents are crucial for children to become healthy adults. Boundaries with our children and teens must, of course, come from a place of love, compassion, and respect, and they did. I didn’t want to be one of those parents that enabled their child’s bad behavior. I felt disrespected then, and I feel disrespected now.
“Give a person a fish, she will have dinner; teach her how to fish, she will never go hungry,” -Anonymous
My daughter’s pregnancy and the subsequent disclusion have made me revisit my stance yet again. I have a grandson now that I haven’t met, and I am not sure that I ever will at this point.
I have reached out and written letters. I have done everything but beg at this point.
Today, I decided to look at this differently and remove my emotions from the equation. Here is what I came up with…
My daughter moved out at 18 and has never asked me for money or to come back home. She is living on her own successfully, with gainful employment. She hasn’t needed my help for anything because she has been determined not to need me. I don’t think that fact has hurt her; in fact, I think it has helped her to be a successful adult. I can’t say the same thing for my other kids. I have never have had to rescue her, not even once.
“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect” ~ Bruce Lee
I have been told all of the life that the right thing is very seldomly the easy thing. Not one step of this journey with my daughter was easy. It isn’t easy to have boundaries and to maintain them. It was not easy to tell my daughter to leave if she couldn’t respect the rules, and it isn’t easy to not have her in my life. I don’t regret the result of me maintaining my boundary because she is thriving and finding her way.
I hope that someday she will enter back into my life and show respect for us and our home. That the lessons she is learning in the world will show her that I wasn’t unreasonable.
She is a parent now, and she is walking in my shoes for the first time. Life has a funny way of showing us our missteps and teaching us what we need to learn. I am counting on this….