My oldest son is 27 years old. When he was in 8th grade he was diagnosed with dyslexia. To help him, my ex and I decided to send him to a high school that specialized in learning differences. Tuition was expensive, to say the least. However, I watched as my son’s self esteem grew, his skills widened and his learning abilities sharpened. After high school, he decided he wanted to enroll in the local community college to pursue a career in law enforcement. After 1 year, he ended up dropping out for a number of reasons. The biggest reason I believe is because he was unwillingly to seek tutoring help. Why?
Recently, I read a book by Richard Branson. He described a gentleman who was a terrific employee at one of Richard’s restaurants. However, after about 6 months, this employee quit. The manager tracked him down, imploring him to reveal why he quit. Eventually this young man admitted he was diagnosed with dyslexia and found the excel sheets he was supposed to use were too overwhelming. He was afraid if he confessed his imperfection, he would be fired. So he quit instead. Guess where he is today? He is now the manager. You see, because he revealed the skill he felt he lacked, the restaurant changed the tracking system to suit the way he learned.
That is why I believe my son quit college, can’t hold a job and is now living in his car. Because if he admits his learning disability, he will have to be responsible for whatever changes an employer is required, by law, to make. Then my son will have to live up to those expectations. Also, he has chosen to hang around people who don’t wish to take responsibility but blame others instead for where they are in life. Example, of my son’s most recent friend who was complaining to me because his parents didn’t provide him with any skills. REALLY!?!?!? It took all the self control I had to not reach across the room, slap him and call him an idiot!!! Course he is only 23 years and has a lot of living yet to do.
You know, it saddens me because my son has a huge heart, cares for others, is loyal to friends and will extend a helping hand to anyone. Course that is another problem. He is so busy helping others or buying stuff for himself that he doesn’t need, he ends up spending his savings resulting in not paying bills he has. Thus, he no longer has phone service. On a recent visit to my home, my son displayed his new tattoo. I asked him, ‘Was that a need or a want?’ He just stood there, like a deer shocked by headlights. After a minute or so he answered, ‘A want.’ I said, ‘So, if you hadn’t gotten that tattoo, do you think you would have had money to pay your phone bill?’ His answer? ‘Yea, I guess.’ Another thing he has no problem spending money on is cigarettes. Yet, that same day he was complaining because he had no money for gas. Mmmm….for that comment, I kept my mouth shut and walked away.
Yes, I have literally thrown in the towel and given up. I have made a conscious choice not to support him. I have made a conscious choice to let him live his life the way he wants, even if that means he is struggling and living in his car. Selfish? I don’t think so.
As a parent, I feel it is time to let go. It is time to move on. It is time to be done shoveling the shit behind him. It is time to stand back and let him figure it out.
Some of you, I know, will disagree. I can hear you already, ‘But he is your son.’ Yes, he is. And it is time he learns I am not here to spend the rest of my life financially supporting him. After all, he has clearly shown he is not ready to step up to the plate and be responsible for his actions.
I made a choice to get divorced. I knew living with one income was going to be a challenge. I knew my spending habits of the past were going to have to change. I knew I was going to have to downsize. And I found a way to make it all work.
Am I expecting too much of my son because I accomplished something? Maybe so. However, I have been there in the past. I have paid bills for him. I have offered a roof over his head and food on the table. I have even paid his car insurance and given him money for gas. Not anymore.
There comes a time when a parent has to decide enough is enough. And I have reached that point. Yes, it is excruciatingly hard to watch someone I love hit rock bottom, especially during this season of deep wind chills and winter weather. But, I also know if I extend a hand, he won’t ever find a way to make it on his own. He even admitted to me he wished his dad had not taken him in the last time as maybe he would have learned a lesson a bit earlier. Not sure if he will learn one this time around or not. I have not given up hope, just given up support.