Though I have no experience of being a parent, I do know what it's like to be someone's adult daughter. My intent is not to judge you, but to give you a level headed 25 year old's word of advice on handling an oblivious adult child. Don't let your compassion make you blind. If a twenty something year old doesn't want more for their life and takes you for granted, the pity parties and enabling need to stop now.
Dear Parents of Adult Children,
Many of you became totally selfless after you had children and took parenthood in stride. The needs, wants, and peace of your children always came before yours. If you were anything like my mom and dad, you stopped at nothing to provide a happy and healthy life for your child. As noble and amazing that is, as your son/daughters become adults, you have to take a step back as your parents did for you.
No, you don't have to stop loving or caring about them, but you have to let them learn to become financially independent, take care of themselves, fight their own battles, and actually enter the real world. You've raised them and now it's time for them to apply your lessons to their own lives.
The Difference Between Helping and Hurting
There is a big difference between helping and enabling. There is nothing wrong with helping your child that is trying to help themselves and succeed in life. College and full time jobs can be a handful for a young adult and it can take time for them to get on their feet. In that case, your support is not only beneficial to their success, but should be very appreciated and respected because, technically, you don't have to do anything for an adult. In this case, you're providing them a hand up.
However, if your child is above the age of 18, doesn't want to work, takes everything for granted, and has no sense of responsibility there seems to be a problem. Mind you, late teens and very early twenty somethings are not always going to have a plan for their future and they will also make mistakes, but your son/daughter must face the consequences of their actions or failure to act. If you're always there to right their wrongs, catch them when they fall, and bail them out then they will never truly understand accountability or responsibility. Those mistakes will become habits.
What you thought would be 18 years raising and taking care of your child could turn into a lifetime, if you never force them to grow up. Consistent handouts turn to enabling. Remember yourself at that age and ask yourself if your parents were babying and supporting your every move. If not, you already know the handouts need to stop.
The Entitlement Issue
Ever notice that the people that have the most done for the them turn out to be the most unappreciative? Correct me if I'm wrong, but for some reason I always thought that life was all about cause and effect. What you put in is what you'll get out. I know many people of my generation that are so intelligent, yet so ignorant and unmotivated.
I sit back and wonder why these talented people aren't out in the world doing great things, earning a steady paycheck or trying to prepare for the future, and 95% of the time it's the same story. They aren't disabled, they're entitled. Everything in their life is handed to them on a silver platter. Why wake up every morning to go to work or struggle to pay bills whenever someone else will take care of everything? In their eyes they deserve to be catered to and coddled like a baby, yet become infuriated when they feel others don't treat them like an adult.
Tough love never killed anyone and it won't kill someone in their twenties. Set boundaries and remember that you're the parent, not the servant or child. Even if the family roles have been out of whack for years, it's never too late to make a constructive change. You're helping them and yourself.
You've Done Your Part
Your days of timeouts and dictating if your teenager can date someone are over. You no longer have the last say on the decisions they make. No matter how much life experience and wisdom you may have, your son/daughter will not always take it or even value it. Sometimes they will purposely go against you and suffer from it just to be spiteful.
If your adult child wants nothing better for him/herself, try to remember that as much you may feel at fault, you are not. You can't make someone successful, happy, or healthy. They have to want it for themselves and work for it. No amount of money, therapy, time, or resources will change a person that doesn't want to work toward change. Be kind to yourself and remember that parenting is the most difficult yet unappreciated commitment.
You are not a money tree, superhero, or God. You are parent, but above all, you are a person. Though it may be hard, try to remember that your adult children will have to fly and leave the nest just as you did. You survived and so will they. You've done your part and now deserve peace.