Sunday, March 02, 2008

Parenting Struggle

My son finally got a job. That is the very good news. For almost two months, he had no job, no money, and no willingness to look for a job. Thank the Good Lord, the trust pays his rent and car payment, insurance and cell phone bill. The only things he needs to pay for are gasoline, electricity for his apartment, and food and entertainment. I've been covering for him, but at 25, he needs to get it together.

So, he started a job on Monday. Won't get paid until next Friday. Last night he came over about 10:00 pm, carrying on because he was hungry and had nothing. Nothing. NOTHING. I know he wanted me to give him money. I know that was the goal of his carrying on. I know this because on Wednesday I bought him $150 worth of groceries at Costco. When I asked how he could be hungry with all those groceries in his house, he said the food was all gone. He had nothing in his cabinets.

"Really?" I asked. "You ate $150 worth of food in 4 days?"

"You don't understand, Mom. I'm a guy. A 25-year-old guy. I have to eat."

I fixed him a hot ham and cheese sandwich and promised to buy milk and sundries in the morning. I did not give him any money.

I woke up this morning, a list of the food I bought on Wednesday running through my head. 24 cartons of yogurt, a huge loaf of bread, two giant jars of peanut butter, a vat of jelly, a package of 24 chicken breasts, a two pound bag of frozen veggies....

There's no way he's hungry. No way he ate all that food between Wednesday and Saturday. No way I can break down and give him cash. I know what he wants, and it's not milk and eggs.

I honestly don't know which of us is struggling more. I fall into cycles of worry and fretting. Make ruts in my brain trying to be sure he can't really be hungry. Argue silently, convincing him (and myself) I'm right not to give him cash.

Can he do better? Will he ever learn to manage money? Is my "necessities only" stance anything more than torture for us both? He wants cigarettes. He wants beer or other liquor. By refusing to give him money, am I merely creating a situation where he will blow every penny he gets next Friday on the very things I refuse to buy?

But if I do give him money, am I making it easy for him to continue being irresponsible? Guaranteeing this will continue?

I have no answers.


Mercurious said...
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riversgrace said...

I think it's a blessing, Jerri, that he has the great good fortune to learn painfully while you are here, while he has food, shelter, and a loving could be such a different scenario for him, his suffering could be so much greater.

Sounds like he's struggling with habits and addictions, and while painful, he's safe, loved, and lucky.

mamatulip said...

I think, if it were me in your shoes, I wouldn't give him money. I considered this as though it were Oliver, and while I would buy him "milk and sundries", I would not give him money. I would hope that by you not handing over money to him every time he asks for it, he would learn to manage his money better.

Go Mama said...

I'm not a mother of a teen-aged son so I have no answers, but $150 worth of groceries for 1 person??!! And he wants more? In my opinion, you've been more than generous. He's 25 for chrissakes. I was out on my own at 17, in NYC no less, putting the roof over my head!

I smell another boundary test in the works here. You've been doing so great with that....

Michelle O'Neil said...

He's fucking with you, Groceries.

Nancy said...

I feel like am looking forward to my possible future when I read about this. I struggle with my 16 yr old with "saving" him too often. My 13 year old could live on his own now if need be...completely self sufficient.

It's the nature/nurture issues that give me the most struggle. One has it going on, the other can't seem to get it right. I treat them the same way and one is simply more capable. Where does that leave us with the others? I hear you, as a mother who also struggles with the boundaries that lie between care and enabling. So very hard to think with your head and heart in harmony.

Deb said...

I have no answers, either. Just love for you and many prayers that you find comfort and peace and that you know at your deepest place how loving, beautiful and kind you are.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I agree with Michelle O'Neil (always). I think it's no accident that as you prepare 21 gifts for Katie's 21st birthday, he's needier than ever. This, however, is NOT your problem. It's between him and his path he chose LONG before he came into your life.

I love you.

I believe in you.

You are a good mother. Scratch that, the BEST.


kario said...

I am so pleased that you and your mother are having this wonderful time together to balance out some of the difficulties with your son.

Stay the course, my dear. He will learn to manage his money - after he blows it over and over again and realizes you aren't giving him cash, he'll have no choice. It won't happen quickly, but you'll never regret listening to your own gut so long as you remind him you love him.

Love you!

Amber said...

YES you do know. You just said it. You know. It just suuuuckks.

But again this brings my dad to mind, and how grandma has ALWAYS felt like you, but never was able to say no. Now he is 60 years old-- 60!!-- and she is a 91 year old woman who pays ALL his bills, and is full of worry in her last days about what the HELL he is going to do when she is gone...

You don't want to be her.