Posted by: Diane | August 30, 2012

Involved Or Enmeshed? – Part 2

I received three phone calls, nine text messages, one comment and twenty six emails in response to yesterday’s blog about boundaries with our adult children.

I must have hit a nerve.

After telling a friend about all these responses, she asked, “are you surprised at the reaction to the blog?” I suppose I am because for the longest time, I’ve been feeling like I’m the only one who’s been struggling with this issue. Today, I learned differently – many women are asking questions about a healthy parent/adult child relationship.  There does seem to be a new “normal” but I don’t want to accept it because from where I’m standing, it’s a culturally based normal, rather than a biblically based one.

Here are some of the comments I received today.

I think your blog yesterday is a difficult one for most of us to handle – we are so much a product of our own parents, who are a product of theirs, etc. etc.  Knowing what is “healthy” and what isn’t depends so much on how we have been parented – and the culture we live in as compared to perhaps places like India or Africa.  Even within the same family there are going to be differences in how each child is handled. When does “showing interest” become “nosy” – when does “not interfering” become “uncaring” – I think you get my drift.  I don’t remember anything like this growing up with my parents – we were raised to be independent, so didn’t expect them to have more than a casual interest in our own family situation.  You made your own decisions and your own mistakes and realized that your family unit was independent of your parental unit.  I must admit I’m at a loss at this point in how to interact with my kids.  If someone knows, I’d love to hear it.


Hey, girl!  Glad you brought this “biggy” to the forefront. Let me tell you – I’m an exhausted and somewhat resentful grandmother because when my adult child looked at my life and figured that I “wasn’t doing anything,” she assumed that I would want to take care of my grand daughter. Truth is,  I don’t want to be a parent again.  I want the luxury of grandparenting, not the responsibility of parenting. But my daughter really didn’t give me much of a choice.  This is not what I thought my fifties would look like. 


I can’t win. Two of my children tell me that I’m too involved in their lives and one of them tells me that I’m not involved enough. They seem to keep track of my involvement in each family, as if I owe them all equal time and energy.  It frustrates me because I feel like I can never do the right thing. I don’t owe them anything. I love my kids but I too, struggle with the boundaries.


I just spent six out of seven of my “relaxing” summer weeks at the cottage with thirteen family members coming and going. Sometimes, my kids left their kids here, sometimes, the whole family stayed for days on end.  They all had a great time – lots of fun with brothers and sisters, so many memory-making moments with the grandchildren getting together.  What I remember is the endless cleaning up and cooking for a large group.  I’m not saying that they didn’t help sometimes, but it’s the end of the summer and I’m really tired. I didn’t relax at all. 


My single 31-year-old son recently asked my husband and I, ” How am I going to get ahead if I have to pay for an apartment, food and car payments? It’s a different world than it was for you guys. What’s the big deal with me living at home? You’re my parents – you’re supposed to help me.”


I actually received an email from a woman who wrote, “if parents would just do their job well, they wouldn’t have to deal with their adult children’s immaturity and problems.”  

Oh…if it was only that cut and dried.

I received two emails from women who don’t struggle with this issue at all. They live with their children’s family and love taking care of their grandchildren full time. All I can say is “More power to you” but from watching my friends deal with various scenarios with their adult children, from all the conversations I’ve been having lately and all the responses to yesterday’s blog, I can confidently say that there are many more women who haven’t figured this out.

I’d love to read more of your thoughts on this!


  1. A great topic and I forwarded your post to my sister who has 4/4 adult children living at home. I too struggle wtih not enabling, with loving as much as possible, but not smothering. I firmly believe our woundedness can create :helicopter’ parenting – not good for either party concerned. I am challenged to let go and trust God is there guiding and protecting my 3. Attentive parenting, but not enmeshed – uggg – it is good we struggle, i think that means we are aware, What greater gift than a pair of wings to soar through life – and yes, the nest will always be fluffed and safe for when the bumps and scrapes happen – then I send them back out with their God and Gaurdian Angel to experience life and build the kingdom. For sure not easy – but then again, parenthood is not only a privledge, it is a vocation and requires lots of prayer. May each parent seek wisdom and guidance through prayer. Awesome topic! Peace.

    • Thanks Debbie…for your insight. Loving but not smothering…hm…good to think about! Diane

  2. Maybe a good topic for your next book??

    • That’s a great idea, Anne. Thanks! This topic has really “hit home” for a lot of women!

  3. Great information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by chance
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