When I was a very young woman, I was under the impression that parents were only responsible for their children until they reached adulthood (otherwise known as eighteen). In my world, parents didn't pay for college. If you wanted to go to college, you got a job in highschool and saved your money. And then you worked your way through school.
As it turned out, my kids weren't interested in college. They could barely wait to graduate from high school. And that was fine with me. I was involved in attending college myself. As I barely had the money to pay for my own classes, their lack of interest was okay with me. One went into the Navy. Another went to work in a warehouse where he's been employed for twenty years. Another one has managed at various McDonalds for nearly twenty years. And the last one manages a billing department in a doctor's office.
For all of that, they all struggle in today's economy. And there is still that niggling feeling as a parent that I should help out. I have an idea that feeling never goes away.
Oh, we've done our share of outright support, but not for quite a few years now. I'm not at all interested in going back to that. But I also know that there are material things they do without because money is short. And as a parent and grandparent I have to stand down. The way I deal with it is simple. I remember where I was in my life when I was their age. And then I remind myself that I would have found it humiliating if my parents were constantly giving me stuff. That's an indication that the parent doesn't believe in their kid. So yeah, I stand back.
Much the same thing happens when the grandkids get into things that they shouldn't. It's hard to stand back and let my daughters struggle with parenting issues. Even as I know that they are the responsible parties, there's a yearning to "help" ease things. But I take a deep breath and shut my mouth. We all have our responsibilities to bear. I've done mine.
But you know? The heart doesn't quite understand that they're not my babies anymore. Nope. When I'm in my eighties and they're in their sixties, they'll still be my kids. I'll still worry about them. I'll still wish I could make things easier. Though I suspect by then, they just might be supporting me...