Friday, 4 May 2012

When do you stop influencing your children?

...and I don't mean controlling them.

As a Mother of 5 with only 2 left at home, I wonder about how long they are going to 'need' me for.

I don't have the need to be needed, but I do question when they stop needing me, if ever.

The 2 oldest boys left home at 18, they were encouraged to go out into the big wide world, they were influenced by us as their parents as to the routes they took with further education and employment.

No, we didn't dictate what route they took, we merely supported their activities, their levels of education and interests. And as parents we discussed with them from an early age that their dreams of becoming a vet and an architect were not going to be achieved with their current standard of education.

They both got their basic GCSE's (5 grade C's) which enabled them to access further education. They both had part time jobs and they had their activites which we continued to support.

The eldest joined army cadets aged 14 he just wanted to go into the army, aged 16, we didn't feel he was mature enough, neither did the army recruitment. They suggested he attended college to further his education, we agreed (our signature was required aged under 18 for him to join up) Every day was a battle, he wanted to pack college in, we nagged and badgered him every day to attend. Aged 18 he joined the army and spent 5 years in Germany, Crete and Canada as well as in the UK, Surrey, Yorkshire and Wales.

The second eldest wanted to do A levels, both us and school didn't think they was achievable but he was determined, he completed his A/S levels and decided to go to college to study catering. he worked park time at the local boarding school in the kitchens, he loved college and was selected for an apprentiship in Reading. We encouraged him to apply, took him for interview after helping him with his CV.

With both the boys settled with their independent lives we emigrated to South Africa, there were tears, how would they cope/manage with us, they had their other parent in the UK, plus aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, but it's not the same.

Contact with the boys is alomost non exsistant bar from a few messages on facebook and it appears they don't 'need' us anymore.

I write, send gifts, they don't acknowledge them, but I know they'd be upset if I stopped making an effort. They've had their problems, they've asked other family members to help them out, who take pleasure in telling us they are their for them with us being so far away...but they don't get the help and support they need.

Eventually the boys turn to us, over facebook or on skype to say 'help' Hubbies response is to have a go, tell them off, let them know he is disappointed, whereas I bite my tongue and lip, hard, promise not to judge and from the other side of the world try to untangle the mess, find out what everyone else has already attempted to do, make phone calls, write letters on their behalf and talk it through with them, adding everytime...please contact me first, it's so much easier to involve me at the beginning, it mean you can sort your own problems out with me guiding me through it.

The younger son has asked for help/advice with changing job, writing CV, interview technique, moving flats etc and it's been a pleasure to watch him grow and develop by himself, taking charge of his own life. He's here now visiting for two weeks and the arrogance/cockiness previously displayed to his siblings has abated, he has matured, he is an adult, he is independent. He sorted himself out when his flight was cancelled.

The older one contacted me this week with his big news, I can't share it on here, in case he and his mother are reading it, but i think he's making a big mistake. He left the army and returned to the UK, he has no job and enough money to live off for maybe a year. But his plans for the future are wrong in so many ways (all I'll say is history is repeating itself). But at 22 he is also an adult, I can't and won't be around for ever to help, bail him out...and this time when he comes to me because it's all gone wrong, I won't be unpicking everyone else's mess to help him out. I've told him this is the case this time...harsh i know, but if he's old enough to make such huge decisions, if he won't listen to the other side of the conversation, especially after he asked me my point of view, then he's old enough to sort things out for himself.

I don't influence my two older children, they have reached the stage where they inform me of what is happening in their lives and if I mutter a single word, I'm in danger of them not even telling me that any stum I shall stay, i'll not offer opinions, I'll not tut (I'll try my best) I'll wait in the wings to be told things, but if they aks me for advice and then dismiss me completly like the eldest has done, he'll not find me sitting in the wings any more.


  1. My 3 are 30, 28, and 24.. It's not easy to watch them make obvious mistakes, but sometimes it has to be done :(