Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Where is my parachute?

This has been wearing me down for some time now – I’m not one to moan about stuff like this, but I need to vent, so here goes…

I love my children, and my grandchildren, but as I approach my 50s faster than I would like, the last thing I expected to be doing at this time in my life was to be still living with, supporting, and helping to raise them!
Our youngest two daughters are both at an age where they ought to be out on their own – supporting themselves, and living in their own place. Our eldest two managed it – my wife and I managed it (with a kid in tow), and yet for some reason (love, fear of change, not wanting to upset the apple-cart?) we continue to provide somewhere to stay, something to eat, support for life’s mistakes, and the luxuries of a modern life for them, all for free.

I know it’s hard out there, but it’s no harder than when our two eldest daughters made the transition to being self-sustained, and it’s no harder than when my wife and I did it, and yet we don’t seem able to push these last two fledglings from the nest. What makes matters worse is that they seem to sense this, and they are taking advantage of us. They don’t pay for anything they are getting – they live rent free, they don’t need to pay for food, heating or electricity, they are still using phones that are a part of a family plan that I pay for. They get use of our internet and TV services. The only things they need to provide for are things they want as ”luxuries”.

They seem to think that because they have rich friends who have parents who give their kids everything that we should be doing the same, and act like they begrudge us when we spend some of what we earn on ourselves or take some time out to do the things we want to do without them tagging along… My wife and I have worked hard to get where we are now. We’re a lot more comfortable than we used to be, but we’re not rich either, and because of the continued drain of supporting our two youngest daughters (and our two youngest grandkids) we’ve not been able to invest in our own futures the way we really should be at this time in our lives. They don’t seem to see this though, and they continue to take advantage of us and our support.

What they don’t seem to realize is that because of the ongoing strain they place on our resources. Were I to lose my job we would have probably enough to be able to live as we do for a scant few months before our way of life would change significantly for the worse.

It’s not just the money though… they don’t look after what they have (or what WE have). They don’t make any effort to do things around the house to help unless we have guilt-tripped them into it (and then it usually doesn’t last long). They don’t clean up after themselves, their rooms are messes, they leave trash abandoned around the house, they don’t put away thing s they’ve used. They continue to expect us to help them out of the messes they have made, showing no efforts to change their behavior and help themselves.

For our youngest daughter that all boils down to money management – I’ve lost track of the amount of times (or the amount of money) we’ve bailed her out – she spends more than she earns – spending on luxuries she could do without rather than paying the things she needs to pay, getting into situations that require us to provide bail-out after bail-out because she can’t act like a sensible member of the public when behind the wheel of a car (either paying for fines she can’t afford, or for repairs that she has needed because she wants to drive as if she were a racing car driver). We’ve paid for books and college tuition for classes that she says she wants to succeed in because of the career she wants to pursue, and yet she does the bare minimum in class, doesn’t make an effort to complete homework, and has as a result flunked out on many of her classes and finds herself on a final probation because she can’t be bothered to make a sustained effort to study. Her academic record is such that she’d likely never be accepted into any of the colleges she’d like to go to, and all because she seems to think the world owes her an education. Well – the world is not like that – you need to work for that education. You need to study. You need to make an EFFORT, and you need to do so consistently – not just when things have slipped so much that you are in trouble! You have demonstrated in your approach to your education that it isn’t really that important to you. I’m at the end of my tether with providing ongoing financial assistance to support you if you can’t be bothered to make an effort to achieve the things you say you want in a responsible way…

For the elder of the two here with us we find ourselves acting as free childcare and as surrogate parents because she wanted all the fun of sexual relationships without considering the consequences… and because she couldn’t bring herself to act like a decent human being to the people involved she’s found her as a single parent with two young children… except she’s not acting like a single parent. She spends much of her day sat around – doing as little as possible with her kids, and instead plays on her laptop with stupid games or chatting to people she’s never met on Facebook (or other chat services). She seems to think it’s OK to have her very impressionable and inquisitive 2-year old daughter sit and watch TV all the time rather than interact with her in a way that will help her develop. She is constantly leaving things around the house – trash, partly eaten food, partly drunk drinks, clothes (clean and dirty), she uses her kids as an excuse to not make an effort to do things, and in the times where she is clearly not burdened by them she’d rather sit and watch TV or prat around on the internet than deal with the things she needs to deal with. Because she only seems to treat people nicely when things are going well for her she’s alienated a number of the friends she had made since we all moved to California. She makes no effort to go and meet people in real life – instead she retreats into a fantasy-land of internet chat-rooms, interactive on-line games, and social media sites, and gets upset at us (her parents) when we suggest she needs to be playing a more active role in the upbringing of her own children.

The stresses of all of this have built up to a point where I find myself conflicted. I don’t want to put members of my family into harm’s way, but at the same time keeping them at home is doing nothing to help them learn to live without parental support. The stresses that are being put on the lives of my wife and I are such that we risk health problems if we continue to live with them as things are, and it is straining our own relationship into the bargain. We are at a point where on the one hand we want them out of our house, but at the same time we fear for what will happen, as neither has demonstrated the good sense they need to make it on their own. More than anything we worry about what it would do to our grandchildren’s lives. Were the underlying economy not in such a screwed-up state we’d be less worried, but as things are while we are struggling to live with them in our home, we wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves were something to happen to them if we pushed them out.

What should I do… ? I’m damned if I know. I can help guide a multi-billion dollar company to ‘do the right thing’ as it ‘grows up’, but I don’t know what to do for the best with my own family. Where is the parachute that will save me from this free-fall of a life?


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