My mom used to always say that the hardest part about raising kids was when they turned 18. At the time I didn't believe her because I thought the hardest part was the part I was in that day!
But now that my kids are grown, I know exactly what she means. For almost 20 years you protect and nurture and teach and discipline and love and coax and support and legally overnight, you have to let them fail. You have to stand back and watch them make poor choices, watch them suffer the consequences, watch them... sometimes... fail. It's a horrible conflict of interest. It goes against everything you've been doing, everything you known.
You can advise. You can offer encouragement. You can give your opinion. But ultimately, you have no power. The choice is 100% theirs.
Beth is obese. You already knew that. We've slowly been making changes in our lifestyle by cooking less food, trying to use smaller plates, etc. Chuck has lost almost 100 pounds the last two years. There's still a lot of work to be done, but we do celebrate how far we've come. But Beth hasn't lost any. In fact, she's gained weight the last two years.
She had a doctors appointment last month and after talking to Beth for a few minutes, the doctor looked at me and asked me if I was able to get her to eat healthy food. I hesitated for a minute and said that she was 28 and asked him if his parents were able to get him to eat healthy when he was 28.
He smiled. Then he laughed. "My parents couldn't get me to eat healthy as a kid!"
Her job coach sent me as email saying Beth needs to drink water while she's at work. It's hot and she needs to stay hydrated. We talked to her about it and suggested she bring her Disney travel mug to work. She can fill it with water there. I think she did that twice. She occasionally brings water but usually likes Sprite or Diet Root Beer instead. They even bought her a clear cup at Starbucks! Complete with straw! I think it was a hint.
Sometimes when we're dishing up for dinner, I'll do Beth's plate. She tends to put on too much and ends up eating every last bite. (I sometimes read, in awe, your posts about not being able to get your kids to eat. That was never an issue with Beth.) I suggests different foods for her to buy when we're at the grocery store. I always ask her to dance or exercise at some point during the day. I really do try. But she's 28 years old.
Where do I draw the line between continuing to treat her like a 7 year old and letting her be an adult and make poor choices, like we all do at times!!
Some people have said that I need to step in if her choices are causing harm, like the over eating. And sometimes I do. But I've been parenting for 28 years and sometimes I just want a break. I don't wanna parent every moment of every day anymore.
Then the other day I read the Jenny Hatch story. Have you heard about it? Jenny is 29, has Down Syndrome and wanted to live with her friends, a married couple who own the thrift store where she works. Her mom and step dad became her guardians so they could decide where she lives. Her mom just felt the group home was a safer choice for her. So they went to court and Jenny won. Her friends will now have guardianship and she will live with them. Only time will tell if Jenny's mom was right.
I felt sorry for Jenny's mom. We've all been there, 'I know my child better than anyone else...' doctors, teachers, friends? And now she's had her guardianship taken away. I can only imagine how devastated she is.
On the other hand, if Beth was so determined to live with them that she'd take me to court?? I think she would be okay living with friends. I would have encouraged Beth to live at the group home, but if Beth said she really wanted to live with her friends, I would have let her. She's an adult!
When that 18th birthday rolls around, everything changes. Your relationship, your influence, your authority. But when that child has special needs, it's hard to know where to completely let go, where to just guide, and where you'll still have to have authority. It's hard to know where to draw the line.