This is Nancy Schneck’s answer to the question ‘What’s a parenting decision you regret?’ on Quora…
I allowed one child to stay home alone after school for about an hour when he was about 10 years old. After only a couple of weeks, he developed an attitude that he was capable of doing pretty much everything without adult input. This made parenting him much more difficult.
But that had nothing on a decision I made much later on…
The absolute worst parenting decision I made was allowing my adult daughter and her fiancé, later her husband and now her ex, to move in with me when they were expecting their first child, and to stay for five years and the birth of two children, rent free.
Listen to Rebecca Judd and Monique Bowley stumble through the final hours of pregnancy before the big push, in all it’s discomfort and pain. (Post continues after audio…)
I deprived them of the experiences they needed to have to become fully functional self-sufficient adults, and created a prolonged period of them being dependant upon me. I ended up spending quite a bit of money purchasing appliances (including a refrigerator, washer, and dryer) for the home they finally purchased, as well as furniture (a kitchen table, a sofa, cabinets, and more), and found that they had also taken many things when they left.
Imagine going to make a cake and finding your mixer and pans missing… it was very inconvenient looking for household goods and eventually finding them in my daughter’s house.
If you’ve never heard the adage “no good deed goes unpunished”, this situation explains it well.
As a way of thanking me for all I had done for them, they merely became hateful and developed all sorts of problems when they had to handle their adult responsibilities independently. Their marriage fell apart, their children have problems, and my ex son-in-law became an alcoholic and drug addict, and has now spent time in prison.
What I did was enable them. I did things for them that they could have, and should have, done for themselves. I deprived them of the opportunity to struggle and learn the lessons they needed to learn and experience, and the self esteem they would have felt, if I hadn’t done things for them that they were capable of doing themselves.
Competence and self pride and satisfaction and self esteem and a sense of accomplishment aren’t things that can be given to anyone, they must be earned.