I am in the same place Dawn is in right now. I raised my daughter the best was I could...we had some tough times, but the last eight years have been as smooth as raising any teen can be.
She graduated from high school in May 2005, turned 18 on July 1st, and...well,
We had the plans worked out with her. She had some tough times in junior high with her grades, but once she settled into high school, she brought her grades up and became very involved in accelerated art, tech and English programs...taking some courses that were worth college credit hours: all she had to do was go to the college after h.s. graduation and submit her transcript then take some tests to claim those hours and then register as either a freshman in college with several credits or possibly enough credits to place her as a sophomore. Her intention was to become a graphics artist.
In January, before graduation, she found a boyfriend...she had never had a boyfriend before that. After graduation, she wanted to spend her final summer as a "kid" with a fling: staying part time with her bf, with friends, etc...then be settled in at home in time to start the fall semester.
The last time I saw her was about a month ago: when she came to pick up the rest of her clothes and personal items, her tv, dvd player, stereo, aquariums, etc...I talked to her on Monday (we were supposed to get together for the day) but she had a change of plans. I tried to ask about college and all she said is that she doesn't know what she wants to do. She is happy living with her boyfriend and his dad (her bf is in his early 20's and makes minimum wage as an asst. mgr. for a video store). She said she thinks that, instead of going to college, she wants to just get a job and help her bf earn enough money so they can get their own place.
She has applied for a job at Wal-Mart.
Back to our deal we had: we agreed that, as long as she was living at home and going to college full-time, her dad and I would pay for EVERYTHING! College, books, fees, living expenses, car, insurance, etc.etc.etc. Her job was just to go to school. Period. IF she chose to go to school part-time and live at home, we expected her to get a part time job and pay a small "token" rent (which we would keep set aside for her to use for her needs: car maintenance, etc.) If she lived at home full time and chose to not go to school, she would have to get a job and pay token rent as well as pay for her own car, its maintenance and gas, her personal needs, etc.
Now, it looks like she has made her own choice: get a minimum wage job, live with her bf (possibly get married) and with his minimum wage job they could both get an apartment, maintain their own car payments and bills, etc.
What do you do? She wants to get together with me on Friday. She suggested we got out to lunch and the mall. I'm game. I'm hoping she wants to talk and tell me what her plans are. I don't know what to expect.
Dawn, I was having such a hard time with this that I went to a therapist. His advice to me was this: "your job is over. Your child is an adult. You did your part and your gave her the best 18 years you could. Between the ages of 18-22 they learn differently. These are the years they learn what life experience is. They are hard years, and the best and healthiest thing you can do is only offer advice IF they ask. Offer assistance IF they ask and then ONLY IF you want to. You are now a retired
parent, who can do volunteer work if you choose (by way of assisting them at their request) but you can not enforce your views on them. This is the time when you get to sit back and watch them as they become their own adult." Something to that effect. The therapy is on-going, so I will keep you updated
I abosolutely feel your pain. I have had sleepless nights, too. I hope what my therapist told me can give you some comfort. This is something that they need to do: find their own way and make their own mistakes and learn from those mistakes by suffering the consequences. If we try to tell them what to do (even though we may know - as a result of our own experiences - that they are making MAJOR mistakes) they will only resent us and do what they have in their minds to do anyway.
Enjoy your retirement.
We can form our own "retired mothers of adult children making life choices we know they will regret" together.
PM if you want to tell me about it...I have given a basic outline of my adult child horror story, so I would like to know more about yours. Maybe we can just shackle them both together and take turns keeping them a week at my house and week at yours?