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Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Adult Children (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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February 28, 2022 5:00 am

Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Adult Children (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 28, 2022 5:00 am

Allison Bottke shares a dramatic story of raising an adult son who has struggled with drug addiction, multiple arrests, and imprisonment. She is quick to admit to her mistakes of enabling her son over the years, and shares stories of other parents who have unwittingly crossed the line of “helping” to enabling their adult children. (Part 1 of 2)

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You know that situation your families facing it's okay to ask for professional help. Focus on the Family's Christian counselors network and confidentially point you to a trusted therapist near you. We think connecting families to verify Christian counselors for more than 40 years. Find a way forward for that's I bought a life insurance policy for my son when he was 25, 26, result so I could afford to bury because I knew he wasn't in a live. I knew he was in a die to kill himself. Drugs, motorcycle something so I'm thinking proactively.

What can I joke I can't. I can Fortenberry a better paper.

This life insurance policy and I member sitting at thinking cyst is not how it's supposed to be.

This is not how parenting is supposed to. That's Allison Botkin describing one of the more extreme challenges moms and dads may face with their adult kids, especially when there's a lack of healthy boundaries within for I'm John Fuller, and Allison is our guest today on Focus on the Family your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly John a significant part of what we do every day here. Focus is to encourage and empower parents we want to help you. That's the bottom line that mom and dad we're here for you as you partner with God to do the best job possible with your children and now were aware that some family situations are more difficult than others and we often hear from you about where your children are, especially the 20 thirtysomethings adult children who may be launched well maybe haven't launched so well. Maybe they didn't get accepted into college or maybe there in a slump with the job market. Or maybe there's been an issue through the teen years and that has now imploded in their 20s, whatever it might be where here for you and this is a concern. Adult kids, this is something every parent can relate to. At some point in time of the fear that my child is going to fail to launch the commute stuck somewhere in the transition to adulthood. We all know families were the adult kids are still living at home and the parents are still wondering will the ever leave or like my family. It's been a revolving door they leave and then come back and then they leave again.

It can be a trying time that maybe your young adults or someone you know is young adult is a prodigal war of their choosing a lifestyle that's contrary to how you raise them that often is the conflict there may be addiction or something worse. Whatever the issue is we know it's breaking your heart is apparent and again with focus are here to help.

Today were going to explore how you can love those adult children well even when it's hard going through it.

Our guest is Allison bought key and that she has first-hand experience in this area. Her personal story is dramatic and while some details may not directly apply to your situation.

She has some great parenting advice and wisdom to share with all of us and Allison is a popular author and speaker.

She's written more than 32 books and wondered and be referring to today is called setting boundaries with your adult children, six steps to hope and healing for struggling parents get in touch for copy and let us know if we would be of any help would you have caring Christian counselors here as well. Our numbers 800 the letter a in the word family or click the link in the episode notes Allison, welcome to Focus on the Family, welcome back.

Really, thanks for having me back. Good to have you back. Let's start with that failure to launch concept were saying that is growing in our culture today. Why do you think this is a growing problem for today's families well a lot of its financial that they the financial challenges that young people have on the outside whether they've not budgeted well and that happens a lot. They they don't know how to live. They don't know how to financially budget their their their lives out there if they come back home. It comes so easy. Parents have allowed this and why not go back home. Something to have my rent paid in my life and food and some is gonna cook for me and it sent. It's a double edge sword and we all parents. I think have that, especially with your junior and senior in high school. I'm young and that spot right now I've got a senior in high school I thankfully have one who's two years into his journey with the college, but you do begin to wonder. Are we going to get theirs has a house that launch platform. You know the steam in the combustible engines need there's a failure to launch.

It's just a shift in our economy. A shift in lifestyle.

It's not always a bad thing to have adult children living at home. If it's an equitable situation. If it's everyone's helping each other and boundaries are being stepped on.

We spent generations just to live together multi-generation so it's only been in modern times that is kids you know are are are pushed out like that you would expect them to be out on their own. Some instances that might not be a possibility, and I appreciate that and talk more about how to create something that's constructive for what we want to talk about the issues before that no one sometimes parents can create this problem at least contribute to correct absolute. I mean that. That's certainly something that can happen in and you can actually cause things to go worse than you anticipated how to parents contribute negatively to their children's failure to launch the become that safe landing place for them and don't want them to feel pain that sounds so right so it's it, yet it's exactly, but it is not helpful. Everything good grows out of paint like physical therapy to get healthier if you got injured bones of it so you go to physical therapy.

It's painful like sports growing is sometimes stealthily learn consequences if this is Billy the Kid parents are challenged with they don't allow their children to experience the consequences of their actions. You've got a couple story in this way, I think you call it, enabling parents in training. So what one of the stories just get our listeners and viewers up to speed. I think finding myself dealing with boundaries as much as I do. I'm very aware when boundaries are an issue. I was at a store once and saw a woman who is obviously frazzled. I could sense that the customer was in front of her.

She got rid of her and I was 10 and I said are you okay and just to say that she lost. Yes, that she is no I'm not done so ma'am so I'm so angry and she's just started talking about her family and her kids and she loans the money and they don't pay her back and they'll say, can I borrow it.

10 she gives him a 20 and never sees change and I asked questions I'm asked why do you do that if you think is consistently doing that.

Why do you continue to give money well and that is this what is excuses and her husband was a saint. He didn't clean. He didn't help in the house. She's working they own the business, the litany of anger and resentment, resentment, anger, and when it comes down you can make different choices and scalloped me like right over her head that she could do anything different was hard for her to realize what did you have in mind and I would think sanity sheeted sanity she needed to stop doing what she was doing and really and get around some supportive people to talk about this. Otherwise, she's what's can happen. Who knows what she did a burnout or I don't know what the children were like if they were at all respectful or dangerous with the other story so I was standing in line at a sandwich shop and there was a mom and a son in front of me and he was I would say maybe 17 dogs how to tell him he had confided in Sandy was really and he couldn't understand really what what it meant, I couldn't talk to her. He said what what what disposes means for the sandwich. I don't know when you get up there. Ask him so much. They get to the counter and he speaks after that he started to speak out and said what does this and she jumped right hand and start over, took over the whole conversation and I watched him physically just suffering in my heart ache. Mom you're giving mixed messages here you're telling them go ahead and ask which is good. This is how he learns and yet you don't trust him enough or maybe trust what what is the issue that you don't think he can speak for himself that you just are in such a hurry that you like what I don't know what it is, so is up but I saw that and thought that that young man now is learning how many times has she done that. So, how hard will it be for him to launch the truck as somebody knows what to escort Allison, let's get that definition of enabling versus helping me, and I think with parents. That's where that tough line is and I don't even know if there's a clear distinction, but what would you suggest to parents to understand what is helpful help and what is enabling your counterproductive help I always said that helping is doing something for someone that they can't do for themselves. Help that enabling is doing something for someone that they can and frankly should be doing for themselves. I often use the it the example of a young child learn to tie their shoes, you're helping them by tying it for them and and and showing them how to do this, but if there 1012 years old and just don't want to tie their shoes and you're bending down to tie their shoes for them. Something is wrong with this picture.

So they get they can do it on their own so it's really looking at what they are capable of doing and this is a big issue. We don't really know what our kids are capable of doing because we've done it for them often in your some listeners there. Probably they may have twentysomething kids are doing well there off to college or whatever it might be.

I want to come to give a counter this statistics. I think pew research Center in 2016 identified that 15% of 25 to 35-year-old millennial's were living in their parents homes which was a higher rate than generation Xers in 2000 between 2005 and 2010, more than 20% of 25-year-old high school graduates who never attended college were not employed or in the military for those with some college employment rates were slightly higher but basically it's like an 8020 rule is about 20% of twentysomethings that aren't launching well. Does that sound about right.

It does allow that.

I keep financial issues.

A lot of education is expensive so they may not be able to have a Ford to live on their own.

Sure, however, the caveat to that is a lot of these young people are no driving very fancy vehicles that they've managed to pay for an and very fancy electronic devices and so parents are funding a lifestyle and that's the problem and doesn't always happen that way. Like said our parents at that understand those boundaries and the kids are home and for whatever reason. But again, whether it's financial maybe it's emotionally better to break up the all young people session these young men breakups that devastate them, whether it's a divorce or a breakup with them a girlfriend. That's yeah you know Allison is so often the older I get, the simpler something skid when I look at Scripture and I see the metaphors of what God is talking to us about uses marriage as a metaphor. He's the bride where the bridegroom those kinds things and it is specifically when I look at parenting. Of course were made in his image.

So my thought is some of our desires are from God's heart and then some of those things that are maybe unhealthier from the sin that enters our heart in this world right so when I look at the parenting approach. I feel like we were trying to give good things to our children that is a personality of God. In other words it says in Scripture.

He too wants to give good things to his children, but there is also the site of God that he allows us to go through valleys to grow to gain wisdom to better appreciate the good things that we have in life when they come our way. How do we as parents pull back from the rescue mentality. We oftentimes think about it.

Spiritually, we will pray. God help us out of the situation and they were frustrated that God has not helped us out of that situation we might even go as far as asking, are you truly there.don't you know the situation that I meant like a good parent is yeah but I think you can learn something good through this, you allude to that in parenting but it's so hard for us to let our adult children, particularly in 2030 somethings walk through the valley where they've got to figure out how to get out of it. Even though we could jump and we can help them out of our retirement account. If it's financial we can help them, but restraint is often the wiser choice. Yes it is and that's where we need people around us to hold us accountable to that we can really share these challenges that we have with and if it's a hole in our heart that were trying to fill a look at that and pray for wisdom and discernment that shine the light on us and that the key right there to be able to see how to respond to your child a positive way. You really have to turn the light on you and say what is it about me God instead of praying my son needs my daughter needs this or how it's Lord give me the insight and the wisdom to know what I have to change about myself yes, but I'm getting Lord I'm thinking more of allowing your children to suffer consequences for their decisions and that should really start when they're young, but we bail them out because it because there's something I really haven't learned the right parenting skills. Many many instances know a lot of a lot of us don't know what suggest you get education for parents just are dropped into parenthood in his heart just is he supposed to bring brownies to the luncheon and you did for its and the guilt, don't we have guilt and that's that's a whole other story. How to get over the guilt and the fear you know what I think is really helpful for people to understand from your own experience. You know things that God taught you, helps understand the background factors that led to the troubles that you experience with your son. You stated it started with your your own rough upbringing. What happen for you. What were those triggers for you for me why I was raised a very poor family is what my parents were divorced. My single mom and three siblings. I was the middle child was the middle child, you are than the overlooked child. I know I laugh about yet, but I was poor know you're poor when when there's other things and then my mom was great provider and that she got very sick and I was sent to foster care and during foster care. I was abused and beaten. My brother was to so it was that horrible situation we were gone she was in hospital for two weeks and we were in a foster home, parked it to Windows to win just two weeks but had had the police not fomites for the foster parents left my brother and I and abandoned house. They were gone. How old are you I was five years old you finer brother was young. My brother was a couple months old, while in the crib they found me locked underneath the stairwell and my eyes were Punch shot. I don't remember any of this but I had a fear of the dark horrible fear of the dark and angrily grew up not understanding why, but with that fear came from but also being in a broken home that love of the father was really we all need that and I didn't have that, from an earthly father and I didn't grow up in a Christian family, so I can have that love of a heavenly father and I wanted to fill that with something so will II was Windows young people that went often ran away and got married. I was very young, 15 years old and it was because I knew of strong-willed. I knew that this is what I wanted to love this man was a wonderful human being. He was you know we belong together as man, who was 16.

She was 18 older man right older man was a nightmare. He turned out to be incredibly abusive. For the first time he hit me with the day we were married, and I thought will wait about what is happening here so my whole life and issues was all caught up in how I responded to people and how I needed and wanted love and how I perceive. Love what that was to me and and control is a big issue be able to be so out of control with that with abuse. It's a horrible thing to experience that and be able to become strong enough to get out of that relationship and I had my son. My son when I was 16 and I and I and I vowed I was going to be a great mom and take care of him and and like you could to take Aaron semantically is money that was lovely yeah Allison.

I can imagine. I mean, my heart goes out to you because of those experiences. No child should ever experience and seriously, but it does create some formative inputs for you and I can only imagine you know your greatest goals. Mom was not to let your son suffer in any way exactly so into the basis is right, but then the outcome can be really wrong right exactly and it's amazing how many parents do have skeletons in their closet as young people we are. We don't all grow up in perfect families and how we become parents and how we learned that role is very tight into youth how we were raised. What what what what were filling or not filling in our heart going back to the question of enabling versus helping in a loving way. What were those thing specifically with your son you think back on now that you enabled him that it actually worked against him for me was making excuses making excuses for the trouble he was getting into and the ones that sound like in your head.

When he got into trouble. What did you say that is living in Southern California Huntington Beach. He was a young kid got caught up in the punk crowd and that very anarchistic movement. Now it was all antiestablishment and he would get thrown out of school he play hooky and make excuses. Well, the teachers don't understand him.

Or they don't really appreciate his intellect or the will. I these are things that all of her to do.

That's why wanted to rush them to some extent we all do but not the harmonics.

I think a lot of parents don't have that bet know the history that I have a lot of a lot of you have gone to some painful things. So they're compensating somehow and that we want to be understanding. Yes all you got it for me that excuses were it was a big thing for me. What was the breaking point between you and your son.

What was that incident arrested your attention went we've got a lot of work in front of rest. That's a good term arrested is that my son was arrested on New Year's Eve actually lived that he got he had a horrible motorcycle accident almost killed himself. He was metal pins in his arms and his legs. He was lucky to be alive and got caught back up in the drug movement but see that it was pain with pain management. Opioids were so prescribed, so there he is back into drugs again and the SWAT team broke into his house and arrested him and I got a call because I my name was on his lease I paid for the house for a lease. I put my name on it and it was a nightmare when I walked into the house after a SWAT team. You don't even you see on TV but you can't comprehend what it's like in reality and the house itself was a trashcan.

There were just bottles everywhere.

It was New Year's Eve that would be the party.

There it was locked. And this is no human being should live like this. But then the connection three really was that I put my name on the lease I pay for this is not this mess and looking at him financially liable so that anyone handling) oh my gosh bit bit and that woke me up in a way that I don't know that I'd never really realized before the sun standing at the sink dumping outlet liquor into his sink. Looking at this window that was broken and access with a through the smoke bomb and the window hole's house smelled acrid like that get chemicals from the from the SWAT teams. It was crazy and thinking. How does somebody live like this and that connection was just so hard for me to make that Chris was back into this lifestyle.

Again, why could he get off that gerbil will but wasn't just why couldn't he get off in gerbil wheel. Why couldn't I get off of it and I realize that at that point I had to stop. I had that completely stop. That's what mice send any steps can I do stop doing what I was doing and figure out why I was doing it and know no more, focusing on him.

I wasn't there to bail him out here. There was, well, the last time I built I think you know that's were to come back next time and speak to those things that you learned the acronym sanity and what that stands for and that's really the basis of your book trying to help parents be better equipped than you were. As they begin to face these difficulties with their I would say codependent adult children and what what what are you know what they're getting out of the relationship with mom and dad.

So let's do that at the end here Allison without knowing those things are mindful that we are pretty much rip the Band-Aid off of some parents that are listening that they have the twentysomething child and perhaps it is a prodigal child.

Perhaps it is related to drug abuse, or some of those extreme behavioral things that some people themselves into particularly in their 20s and what word would you have for them. That's before you had your moment. Your realization got a change direction. God I need your help. What would you say that parent that is listening going wow okay I need change I would say that one word is hope. Never give up. There's you can change your child can change God is beyond capable of taking care of this nightmare that you're in. So hang on to that help realize that if we have hearts filled with hope not. Nothing is impossible so we just can't give up hope and that's it. We get so frustrated and fearful and just tired parents get tired so especially this did not time 20s at the chances are this didn't just happen overnight that they're having challenges with whether to dysfunctional child. Failure to launch child a troubled child.

This is an overnight thing. So it's been going on for a while and we just get here and we want to give up. So I would say just hang on to hope that anything is possible. What did you do specifically when you fell you were leaning into hopelessness, though there had to be those nights when you're laying her head on your pillow and your saying to God I don't want to assume so correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the Lord. I don't see hope your absolutely in it and it was hard just to say I just I just can't deal this is.

I bought a life insurance policy for my son when he was 25, 26 years old so I could afford to bury him because I knew he wasn't in a live. I knew he was good and I was good to kill himself. Drugs, motorcycle something so I'm thinking proactively looking back at Aiken Fortenberry a better paper.

This life insurance policy and I member sitting there thinking this is just not how it's supposed to be. This is not how parenting supposed debate and realizing that okay I shine again. That's what shined the light back to me why am I doing this. It's not so much wide why your kids are doing things they're doing.

That's important, but how have we contributed to this. What is it that we have to do what is it that we have to change to be able to have hope to be able to help these kids in helpful way and be able to separate the separations were just to work were still connected to these kids and there's got to be that separation are so appreciative Allison in your heart. See the tears you are still raw. That's appreciated by the people that are suffering and going through right now. I love the idea hang on to hope that's all you got, and let's come back next time and cover steps and the ideas that brought you even greater hope than simply buying an insurance policy right Allison, thanks so much and I hope if this is an area that you're living in, or you know somebody who is living in this space as the parent of an adult child who struggling call us get a copy of the book we'd love for you to be a part of the ministry to help other families. If you can join us in that way either with the monthly gift or one time gift will send you a copy of Allison's book is our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. If you can afford it.

The content is so important, I believe, to put help into your hands, just get in touch with us will get your copy of the book will trust other people will take care of the expense of that and avoid the main point here is if you are in trouble call us. We have a great counseling to help talk with what your seeing and what you're experiencing. So you can find. Hopefully godly equilibrium and good ideas on how to you.

Don't go this journey alone are numbers 880 family 800-232-6459 or the link for health is in the episode and on behalf of Jim Daly, and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for this episode will focus on family plan to be back with us next time. As Allison continues sharing her story and insights you and your driving you now nearly 60% of American adults don't have a will in place a big number and having a well can leave a heavy burden for family left behind if you need a well but don't know where to begin.

Let Focus on the Family help download our resource. 15 questions to ask when preparing a well it's our gift to my well that's my well

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