Who would have considered such a situation as we brought our newborn home from the hospital? We have dreams for their future and our lives together, so how could I end up in a situation where I need to ask my child to leave my home? This decision is complicated by the current parental trend that seems to desire, more than anything, that our children love us.
What is our role as parents?
We generally see our role as parents as giving our children enough training and experience so that as they finish school they are equipped with skills to make life work. That requires parents to be consistent in discipline, giving of responsibility, and ensuring that there is time spent in teaching life skills; given always with love and grace.
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How did I end up in this situation?
There are several reasons that bring children back in the home: change, loss of a job, a failed relationship, a failed educational opportunity. But occasionally this return is due to irresponsibility on the child’s part. Two factors will spell failure in this situation:
- When we assume that it is our job to “fix” their situation and make sure they are comfortable.
- We work harder than the child to not fail because it makes us look like a failure.
Boundaries are essential
If this is the situation in which you find yourself it is important that boundaries are established. We can choose to allow our children to return home if they have a plan that includes: being responsible, obeying the house rules as well as legal rules, and a commitment to finding other housing within a set period of time. Writing these commitments in a contract form allows both parties to respect their agreement. Included in this plan should be the consequences if the boundaries are broken.
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What happens if your child doesn’t meet the agreed upon commitments and boundaries? Consequences cannot be empty threats. Your child needs to know that consequences will certainly be carried it out. If we are constantly threatening to do things but not follow-through, then our children are in control of the situation. Most parents fear that their child might be on the street if we follow through and ask them to leave after breaking an agreement. Parents may feel that taking action is heartless, insensitive and selfish. The truth is the opposite: not allowing your child to face their consequences, learn from them, and grow is heartless and selfish.
Chemical use or addictions?
If there is drug or alcohol use occurring with the child, there needs to be a plan for sobriety in place because there are generally further complications that arise when this behavior is tolerated. Drug and alcohol testing should be part of the contract if they are allowed to maintain a residence in the home. It was a situation with alcohol and drugs that finally caused us to ask our child to leave the home. It was not comforting to know that this child ended up in a drunken, addicted house with other people who were using. It was easy to blame ourselves for the future outcome of this situation. Personally speaking, those were some of the worst times of my parenting experience. However, after about 6 months this child returned home to say that life was not going forward and that change needed to happen for future success. Of course, this was a welcomed opportunity with much hope.
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Although this brought hope to us, this might not be the outcome that we would like to happen. However, there are consequences in participating in the behavior of our children who are on a destructive path. There is a greater chance of success if they take ownership of their lives rather than for us to do so.