When your adult child hurts

When your adult child hurts, you hurt as a parent.  You can’t soothe a scraped knee or put a cool cloth on a bumped head.  You can’t even always offer any helpful advice or practical help.   Sometimes they would take help if you had it to offer, and sometimes they wouldn’t.  If your adult child hurts, you have to sit back and watch as they make their own choices for good or ill.  You can’t put them in time out, or know that a good night’s sleep will make everything brighter in the morning.  Sometimes you can only sit and hurt silently with them.

It’s so hard to write today.  I’m still feeling numbly sad and afraid for my daughter.  It’s like a terrible fatigue that I have to battle from without and within.   I’m making the daily list to make sure nothing slips through the cracks with kids, bills, pets etc., but my heart is over the miles and crossing Time to once again carry her.

Her sixteen year old sister told me last night, “Mom, don’t worry.  She won’t go to live in the Amazon.  She likes nice things too much, and even complained because there weren’t nice curtains in this room.”  Hmm.  I’ve known my firstborn to do some stupid things out of sheer stubbornness.  She was one of those kids.

But my real concern is the impact of years of stress and strain on her mental health.  She’s been a decade in a turbulent marriage.  Years ago after one of the times they came out of a very bad patch, I sat her husband down and told him clearly that she’s the kind of person that needs stability.  She requires it more than the average person.  I told him that in order for them to make it, his choices needed to always keep that in mind.  He’s done the opposite with his choices.  Her life with him has been anything but stable; in fact, it’s been years of her trying to create stability while he chased ‘personal fulfillment’.  His last chasing after personal fulfillment meant he had an affair while she was pregnant with their youngest child.

When I married my husband, I didn’t know about the history in his family of some serious mental health issues.  I’m not sure if I’d been told that I would have understood enough to be concerned.  At that naive young age and at that point in time, I was full of confidence and lived in an era when industrialized medicine was almost cocky with being able to come up with a pill or surgery to fix or cure anything.

Everything was genetics back then, but now we’re beginning to understand the impact of epigenetics.  It’s not just that genetics can contribute a kind of predisposition or vulnerability or strength for certain things, but that environmental factors affect characteristics of living organisms.  Or as Bryan Turner put it, “DNA is just a tape carrying information, and a tape is no good without a player. Epigenetics is about the tape player.

At the bottom of this, it’s a constant battle to not blame myself beyond perspective.  My mind sneaks back to junctions and choices and begins to wonder which choice could have opened a different path for her, one with more stability and less stress.

When an adult child hurts, their adult hurts can be far beyond your parental realm of remedy.

You pray.

This entry was posted in abusive marriage, Christian family, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse, stress and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When your adult child hurts

  1. newshoes123 says:

    I understand completely. I’ve often said that if I had chosen many moons ago to leave my stbexpah, that the kids would have turned out differently. That perhaps they would have learned that loving someone meant just that loving not hurting. And perhaps they would have been very different people or maybe not, I’ll never know. When something dramatic or difficult happens to them, I keep looking back on how I raised them with a pa father and feel terribly guilty for my choice to stay because it clearly affected them. One suffers from terrible anxiety, one is an angry angry person and one just won’t let anyone close enough to be able to experience true love. I’ve said it often, I’ve messed them up.

    One child had an opportunity recently that fell through, they were very hard on themselves and really was beyond their control what happened, but they went through a period of deep soul searching and retreating within themselves. I couldn’t help but feel helpless and I wish I had a magic wand to fix it for them. But you can’t do that, they have their own life experience to live and they need to learn to make choices for themselves (whether or not the choice they do make is good or bad is irrelevant).

    I believe that everyone has a path to follow, as parents we can only be a shoulder to cry on, a person they can bounce ideas or concerns or vent to and that’s our way to support them when they are adults. We won’t stop being their parents, we continue to love and support them and pray for them, it’s all they need. The rest is all up to them no matter how painful it can feel.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      I just keep praying, and trying to stay on a better path myself. When I spill my guts, I always hope someone younger might see what I wish I had then.

      Thank you, Newshoes, for sharing on this post. It means so much to me that you did.


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