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.
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!
Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!
It sounds like the parents are Ground Zero for their kids' (and now grandkids') turmoil. At a certain point of course adults must be accountable for their own mistakes and behaviors but it seems like H.H. left a burning pile of stuff in the street and now want to go off and enjoy Mahjong in the Sun. Family means for life. And their responsibilities as patents don't end when they get their AARP cards IMHO
Please, please, please try meditation, exercise, or yoga first instead of accepting an antidepressant as a first choice. Then if all else fails, medicine has its place but use it with caution noting possible side affects. Good luck.
Great answer from Ann. We cannot bleed every time our children cut themselves. Sooner or later, we have to let go and allow them to live the consequences of their choices. We can offer love and encouragement, but need to take care that we do not enable their self-destructive behavior OR allow it to destroy us.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:
Dear Readers, , My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.