January 15, 2013

Today I Crushed My Son's Dream

     Monday was a rough parenting day period paragraph.  I had the glorious experience of shooting down one of my son's dreams.  Whoever thinks parenting toddlers are rough have no clue what teenagers/young adults are like.
     It is hard parenting your child when they are officially no longer a child yet not really an adult.  Sure they can vote at the age of 18 and buy a gun but really what other power do they really have?  (OK not the best examples) The over whelming majority are not only living at home but are still dependent on their parents in some way or another.  They are out in the world where opportunities abound and like most in that age group believe themselves to be invincible.  Finding our role as parents in that world isn't easy.

     Our two oldest have chosen very different paths which means there's a serious learning curve with both.  Em's a full-time student living at school.  We have no clue what she does, where she goes or who she is with beyond that she's at school.  We live under the fantasy that no news is good news and that works for us.  Patrick's currently attending school part-time and working part-time while he waits to enlist in May.  Unlike with his sister we know when he's not home but don't always know where he is or who he's with.  Guess which one I like better?
     I actually think it is easier parenting the child away at school.  You know they are going to make mistakes that you hope they're going to learn from.  You aren't witness to their ups and downs yet you know somehow they're surviving because they're quick to call when they aren't.  Granted you hear from them most often when they are in need of something ($) and while you'd rather they'd call more regularly you also know that they're growing up.  When they come home there is always a bit of conflict as you both settle into new roles but after a few days you're back into a groove (leave me with my delusion for now).
     When you have a child that stays at home you never have the separation that forces the two of you to re-evaluate the parent-child dynamic. They're still living under your house, your rules, your microscope.  As much as we want to give them the freedom that comes with being "an adult" we also have front row seats to their everyday life.  We still expect them to play the same role they've because they're still the same kid.  AHH but that's the rub right there isn't it.  They truly believe they're not the same any more.  Some how they believe that by receiving that piece of paper upon graduation they are instantly a new better, stronger and smarter version of themselves than they were the day before.  Simply by receiving a diploma they are completely capable of making all decisions on their own.
     It is so hard watching them drift from the life path they've laid down for themselves.  We, being all of us older more wiser persons, know how easy it is to get distracted from a goal and the difficulty it is to get back on track.  I am also aware of how much we learn from mistakes and the unexpected opportunities they can present.
     So today hubby and I decided to force our son's hand and have him say no to a job offer.  He has developed wonderful people skills which became evident to the owner of a KIA dealership while being waited on with him at Best Buy.  The owner has offered him a job however they won't work around his BB hours so that has him considering leaving a job he's loved these last few months.  Selling Cadillacs is a dream he has and sees this opportunity as a stepping stone towards that.  We discussed this with him and feel that right now between school and his upcoming enlistment that BB is best for him.  We're convinced that the job at KIA will be available in the future.  We also feel their insisting he quit BB, take a pay cut and work 6 days a week is a bit much at this time.  What a fun conversation that was NOT.
     I really thought the "bad parent" moments were going to get easier.  I thought I was horrible when I had to say to different activities in the past but compared to this those times were a breeze. I am sure many would disagree with our decision to interfere in his life and I understand.  I do think I need to improve on being able to listen better with the consciousness that he's an adult and remove the "he's a kid I know better" thought process from it all.
     I know we'll come through this and be stronger on the other side ~ at least I hope so.
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