Monday, July 24, 2017

parenting the adult child

I am bothered.
Bothered by a comment made to someone that wasn't me.
Bothered because it hits a little close to home.
Bothered because you don't understand.

I never understood why perpetrators of sexual assault and rape could be allowed to roam free and prey on other people.
I never understood how that could be allowed to happen.
I never understood why one wouldn't do everything in their power to stop them.

I do understand that today's society is a different one that it was 20, 50 or for sure 100 years ago. Maybe even 10 years ago.
And most unfortunately, still today in so many segments of different populations.
As a parent, it would be my inclination to go after the person using the legal system and put them away.
As a parent, I wouldn't want someone else's child to go through what mine did.

There are people who hold the opinion that a certain segment of society likes to "sweep things under the rug". Admittedly, I believe at one time that was true. I also believe that victims were told to keep their mouths shut. None of that is right, nor has it ever been. If you were a victim of that kind of attitude, you were wrongly treated. You can use it as a crutch for the rest of your life and be angry about it or you can choose to move on. That is up to you. If you decide to use it as a crutch ... you're not making progress.

This isn't about that segment of society, because I am not that person. I am not that parent. Today I am the parent who wants justice. I am the parent who wants someone stopped.

I want you to understand that it isn't my choice.

As a parent, I would support the decision of my child whatever it was in this regard. And as hard as it is, I would somehow find peace with that decision. I would never tell them to shut up. I would never tell them to hide it under a rug.

What they decide to do is not my choice. It is theirs.

I'm not talking about children who are under the legal age of 18. I'm not talking about children who need me to be their legal backbone. I'm not talking about a situation where I am the adult making those decisions.

I'm talking about an adult who has the right to make those decisions themselves. They have a right to be heard by their parents. They have a right to be supported by those parents. They have a right to make those decisions themselves with full knowledge of consequences.

I really was simplistic in my thinking. Just file a report and get on with it.
Make sure this person is stopped, gets some help and pays for their crime.

And now I can understand how a perpetrator is allowed to continue.
Because you just don't file a report.
You don't just march into the police station and do something about it.

That doesn't mean something was swept under the rug.
It doesn't mean you were told you couldn't do something about it.
It doesn't mean you were told not to press charges.

You may have been encouraged to press charges with the assurance that your parents would stand beside you through the entire process.
They would gladly hold your hand and heart in public and in private.
It means that regardless of the emotional support you have around you, you can't do it.
And it is up to you.
It isn't up to me.
You are the adult.
I am here to help you through whatever that decision is.

I can pressure you. Sure, I can.
I can pressure you until your mind can no longer handle it and you find release somewhere.
Maybe it will be a complete break with reality.
Perhaps you will find solace in the bottom of a bottle or at the tip of a needle.
Or perhaps you'll pursue unhealthy relationships that fill that broken part of you.

Is that the best alternative for my adult child?
What if they can't handle the thought of a long drawn out legal system?
What if they aren't able or willing to put themselves through that?
There could be a myriad of reasons they are not willing or able to pursue the legal system.
Then what?

What are we as parents then suppose to do?
I'm sure some of you have some great ideas.
Maybe some of them are really good ones. Maybe some of them are knee jerk reactions that are coming straight from a gut that just flipped inside out.
What is the best thing I can do to help my adult child?

Maybe we as parents are completely wrong in what we have chosen to do.
But this is it.
We are supporting their decision.
We are listening to them when they are able to open up.
We are ensuring they get the best help available in the way of counseling and therapy.
Our desire is for our adult child to have a life that is full.
Not full of hatred and horror, but a life full of promise and hope.

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