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Home Strengthen Relationships PARENTS AND ADULT CHILDREN Letting Go of Our Adult Children

Letting Go of Our Adult Children

BY ARLENE F. HARDER, MA, MFT

A full-length book on dealing with grown children who haven't turned out the way parents expected, a book which has been of great help to hundreds of people.

As many parents have discovered, there are no guarantees that our children will become the adults we thought they would. For starters, we may unintentionally fail our children in some fundamental way so they aren't really able to meet the standards we hold for them. Even more, because they have minds of their own, they can choose a lifestyle that we don't approve of or that we feel is less than they are capable of achieving.

Whatever the cause, in my case I had to deal with a son who became an alcoholic, chose for a time to live on the streets, and for a variety of reasons did not work for a living. As I struggled with tremendous guilt — and eventually came to terms with the reality of how my child had chosen to live his life — I realized that the road to letting go progressed through several essential steps.

I used this understanding in my private practice when I worked with parents whose grown children had a variety of problems. Then, incorporating what I learned from my own experience and from my clients, and after interviewing many parents, some of whom were satisfied with the lives of their grown children, I wrote a book called Letting Go of Our Adult Children: When What We Do Is Never Enough, published by Bob Adams, Inc. in 1994. Because the book is now out of print, I decided to put the entire book on the Internet (until I find time to print a second edition).

Testimonials from Correspondence and Questionnaire

I have received hundreds of positive emails from parents who have read the book and have found it helped them greatly in dealing with their own children. Also some of my feedback has come from responses to a questionnaire. Here are a few of them:


What helped you the most in reading Letting Go of Our Adult Children?

Realizing that even though I wasn't a perfect parent, I am not the cause of my grown child's problems. Just as I had a choice as an adult to heal from my upbringing, he too has that same choice.

How has your relationship with your child changed because of what you've read in the book?

I have decided to lovingly disengage from him

— ES


What helped you the most in reading Letting Go of Our Adult Children?

Reading about other peoples' experiences

How has your relationship with your child changed because of what you've read in the book?

My daughter just turned 21 and is still at University. Since I am a single parent, I have always felt the need to compensate for not providing her with a father and having to spend much of my time working. Your book has help me to recognize the need to let go of my guilt, and work with her to develop an adult relationship. I am working on that, and I know that the stress level has reduced.

— LS


What helped you the most in reading Letting Go of Our Adult Children?

Just because they are not living the life I envisioned and hoped for them does NOT mean I failed as a mother. They are responsible for their choices. When children are given opportunities and the support to pursue those opportunities, it doesn't mean they want the opportunities or appreciate them.

How has your relationship with your child changed because of what you've read in the book?

I'm trying to take a step back. When my children make bad decisions, I want them to learn from them. I can't and shouldn't always make it right. They need to learn responsibility

How have you changed because of what you've read in the book?

I'm trying to change myself and my reaction to nasty and hurtful comments from my children. I gave up a career to raise my family because I knew NO one would love my children the way I do. I thought they were worth it. Unfortunately, my children don't respect my work as their mom and my husband offers no support. They say, I MAKE no money and therefore have no worth. I'm learning NOT to be a sponge. I'm not absorbing their mean comments. I know what I do.

— MBS


What helped you the most in reading Letting Go of Our Adult Children?

we are both going through some difficult issues with our adult children and this book really gave some clarity as to what we need to focus on. What I got most from this book is to be gentle with ourselves, set boundaries and appreciate the adult children we have as individuals and let go of our version of who we thought they should be.

How have you changed because of what you've read in the book?

Change is a slow process, but I am gentle with myself and giving myself the time to change and forgiving myself when I slip up.

— S


What helped you the most in reading Letting Go of Our Adult Children?

When I read stories about your son I could have sworn we were unknowingly sharing the same child, that being said I felt very confident in the wisdom and advice you gave.

How has your relationship with your child changed because of what you've read in the book?

It is definitely an ongoing process but I can see a light at the end of this miserable tunnel.. . .

How have you changed because of what you've read in the book

I am definitely more aware of how And when I am being manipulated. I am also now aware of the dance we do before I end up giving him money or other things that I silently resent giving. Especially when he does not fulfill my expectations by using what I give him for MY intended purposes. Does that make sense? So, the letting go begins and it is a constant struggle.

— LW

© Copyright 1983, Revised 2012 , Arlene F Harder, MA, MFT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

.

INTRODUCTION

.

PART ONE:
Getting Caught Up
in Our Expectations

Chapter 1: Something Unexpected Happened on the Way to My Ideal Family

Chapter 2: When Children March to Different Drummers

Chapter 3: The Parenting Game

Chapter 4: Letting Go: Easier Said Than Done

.

PART TWO:
Letting Go
Leads to Peace

Chapter 5: Shifting Your Focus

Chapter 6: The Velcro Syndrome

Chapter 7: The Heart Slowly Heals

Chapter 8: Letting Go With Love

Chapter 9: Closure When Reconciliation Is Not Possible

.

APPENDIX

.

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