I have a 19-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter. They do not know their father. They only know that I divorced him because he was abusive and used drugs. Now I am having the same problem with my son. He is in and out of jail for stealing, drugs and writing hot checks. My daughter is also going down the wrong path. She does not care about school, she likes boys who do drugs and who do not work. She has recently quit the job that she has held for a year, she is disrespectful in my home and I do not like most of her friends. I do not think she is using drugs, yet. I did not raise my children to turn out this way. My daughter and my son do not listen to anything I say. I have already kicked my son out of my house. I’m thinking of doing the same to my daughter, just to stay sane. How do I deal with all this stress?
By throwing your hands dramatically upward in an expression of joy while saying aloud, “Oh good! Right before my eyes is an opportunity to practice my spiritual beliefs!” What those beliefs are precisely, I don’t know, but I imagine that love is one of the ingredients. Is it genuine love? I mean, is it unconditional? While it’s true that we must accept our beloved as they are, we must also understand that genuine love includes challenge. We cannot allow our discomfort with challenging someone to distract us from insisting that they choose good. For example, if I owned a shop and allowed an employee to filch money and material goods without consequence, I would be without integrity. As the Tao Te Ching points out, “What is a bad man but a good man’s job?”
Challenge, though, should not be confused with criticism. Criticism is a personal attack, particularly on someone’s character. Challenge is a firm arm that helps you up when you’ve fallen down, guides you back to behavior that is personally and socially responsible, then gently pulls away when you’re clearly capable of holding your own. Is that how you raised your kids? I ask because of the emotional charge in the statement, “I did not raise my kids to turn out this way.” If you didn’t, who did? Yes, of course your children contributed by the choices they made. Yes, of course society has a responsibility because it glamorizes crime, but you must shoulder your share of the responsibility, whether minuscule or massive. Forgive yourself and move on.
An 18-year-old woman is old enough to move away from her childhood home, provided that she has completed high school or the equivalent. While you may close the door of your home to her (and your son), be sure to keep the door of your heart open. Your children may turn away from their current lifestyle and when they do, who better to turn toward than you?
I have fallen completely in love with someone. We live in separate homes and see each other only twice a week, but there are numerous phone calls each week and I feel like I connect with him better than the husband I was married to for 22 years. We are both very busy people and the time we spend together is precious, but I have never experienced such a relationship.
It’s important to know that you can get along with others in short doses, but in an intimate, committed, romantic relationship, it’s the daily interactions that either grind you down or inspire you to a deeper and more abiding love. So is this man the love of your life? You don’t have enough experience with him to answer that question.