Dear Ann Landers, My husband and I retired to Florida a few years ago, leaving our three grown children back in our hometown up north. We are having a wonderful life, and my husband is as happy as a lark. I also should be happy. Everything here is great. The weather is beautiful. We are enjoying good health and have met some lovely people. We both do some volunteer work, so please do not assume we are selfishly wasting our lives.
The problem is our children. They aren't kids anymore, but each of them is in trouble. One daughter is married and "no longer in love." She has a boyfriend. Another daughter is living with a younger man I know she'll have to support for the rest of her life because he doesn't believe in work. She also has his two teenagers living with them. Another daughter is going through a miserable divorce. She has a son who surely will end up in jail again if he isn't there already.
I should be having the time of my life, but there is such a sadness around me that I fight it daily. I don't know what to do, Ann. All these troubled adult children are getting the best of me. I try to hide my anxiety from my husband because I don't want him to be as miserable as I am. What should I do, Ann? Please throw me a lifeline. -- Heavy-Hearted in the Palms
Dear H.H., First, you should discuss with your husband what is going on with the children. They're his, too, you know. It will help to have his support. Next, you need some counseling to help you cope with your anxiety. (An antidepressant could be a great help.)
Your counselor will explain that you are not responsible for the lives of your adult children.
It is time to let them untangle their own messes and grow up. It may be difficult not to become involved in their problems, but it could be the biggest favor you ever will do for them. In the meantime, you deserve to enjoy your retirement years. Don't let your children spoil them for you.