Daughter is understandably upset over what is happening with Boyfriend and Best Friend. She did not want to go help our friend pack for her move. She didn’t want to see people. I finally convinced her we should go. After a couple of hours, I sat down. She came and sat on the floor in front of me, leaning against my knees. My initial thought was to tell her to move, as it was too hot for her to be leaning on me. Then I realized that she was seeking contact with me because of her pain over her friends, so I let her stay and rubbed her shoulders a bit.
We ate lunch, and I could see her sinking into despair. She just wanted to come home. I told our friend I wasn’t sure how much longer we could stay. I went out on the front porch to wipe down some lawn furniture, and Daughter followed me. She was into stay-close-to-mom mode. My friend sent her down the street on an errand, and I went in to thank her for distracting Daughter. I got a lecture about how I was babying her and she was 21 years old and shouldn’t be so dependent on me. I reminded her that emotionally she is much younger, and was accused of treating her like she was young and thus preventing her from maturing. I dropped the conversation and went back outside.
I was hurt, and as always happens, I began to question the way I handle Daughter. It is always a balancing act with Daughter. It’s never easy to figure out what age she is at the moment. Stress causes her to regress. A year ago, Psychiatrist put her emotional age at 5 or 6, and warned me not to leave her alone at all. I think she has matured considerably in the past year, and the social worker at the hospital commented on her improvement. Even so, she isn’t even close to 21.
I regularly question my parenting style with Daughter. I have frequent conversations with Therapist about it, seeking to make sure that I’m not being over-protective, and that I am encouraging her growth without putting unreasonable expectations on her.
It’s a challenge. Everyone seems to think they know better than I do. Sister and Brother thought Boyfriend was too old and I shouldn’t let Daughter see him. I chose to let her see him in safe settings, knowing the relationship wouldn’t last and figuring it was better for Daughter to discover the problems on her own. I knew it would be painful for her when it ended, but knew that I can’t control who she chooses for friends. I certainly don’t want her to have to start hiding things from me. As it was, she didn’t tell me about his divorces, because she knew I wouldn’t approve of her dating a divorced man.
I know I’m not perfect. I know I make mistakes. Parenting Daughter is a challenge. She is not a normal 21 year old. Her emotional age varies from day to day and minute to minute. I know there are people who think I am over-protective. I know there are people who don’t approve of me allowing her to be on medication. I know there are people who just don’t get it. Mutter under your breath if you want to, but please don’t criticize me and tell me I’m preventing Daughter from growing up when Daughter is less than a week out of the psych unit and just figured out that Boyfriend is a jerk.