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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am a single parent of a 20 year old son. He is in his 2nd

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I am a single parent of a 20 year old son. He is in his 2nd year of university and is not doing very well. He is just barely passing, although he is extremely bright. . Today i learned he has not paid his rent because he has been away from home. It's not that he spent the money elsewhere, he just forgot? to pay, in spite of the fact that i reminded him 2 days before it was due. I am struggling with how to respond. Part of me wants to let the natural consequences unfold. And part of me feels that this reflects some poor parenting on my part and I need to do something here to help him. By that i mean not 'rescue' him but take a firmer stand. I have definitely been a 'hovering helicopter' kind of mom so far. If i should take a stand, I'm not sure what that stand should be. My son and I are close, and I don't want to hurt our relationship. I don't want to hurt him by doing nothing either.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very tempting as a parent to always be there for your child, even when they grow up and move on. You can't just shut off that parental instinct even if they are an adult.

However, as much as it pains you to see your son not living up to his potential, letting him suffer his own consequences can often be extremely helpful to him. Your son may have grown used to you being there for him knowing that he does not have to worry about dealing with his own issues. And that can take failure and making mistakes out of the equation giving him an excuse to not be responsible. Learning to cope with mistakes and responsibilities is part of being on your own.

Learning by mistake is often the best way to learn. And as parents, though it is hard to watch your child go through a tough time, letting them discover their own faults and mistakes is often the best way to show love for your child. They not only fall down but they learn how to fix situations themselves and take care of themselves. And a self sufficient child is a strong child. You teach them not only how much they are loved but how to face adversity, which every person will face sometime in their lives. You want your child to be ok and be able to face life's problems now while you are there to love them and especially when you are gone and not able to be there for them.

It is perfectly fine to talk to your son and let him know you care and that he can turn to you if he really gets stuck or needs advice. But stepping in, reminding him of his responsibilities or even taking care of them for him is only setting him up for more failure. That balance between caring but not interfering can be difficult to find, but with practice you will. And your son will grow as a person and maybe even become more than you expect from him.

I hope this has helped you,

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