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Musings on Friend Parenting and Failure to Launch

paul_in_utah's picture

G'day fellow S'Talkers, had something on my mind and wanted to get thoughts of the group.

For those who may not have followed my tragicomic attempt at a relationship and Steplife in general, here is my cast of characters:

SO - Signficant Other, who lives with me.

SOS - Significant Other Son, who is sometimes still staying with me and SO

SOD - Significant Other Daughter, who lives with

TPP - the Trailer Park Prince, aka SOD's Sperm Donor. 

SOD-GK - Signficant Other - Granddaughter, the child of SOD and the TPP.

My SO is a card-carrying "Friend-Parent" who belives in what I call the "Divinity of Bio-Children," which states that one's own bio-children are wise, learned, and make decisions that we should not question.  Said children are not held to any standards of behavior or development, and can not have boudaries or consequences, since that would be "judging them."  

As you might imagine (or might know if you've read my prior blogs), this approach ain't working out so well for SO's kids, SOD and SOS.  SOD got knocked up by the TPP, who is unemployed and doesn't pay for anything.  SOD is "gradually" easing back into the workforce after a year-long sabbatical while she was pregnant.  She has many expensive hobbies and habbits (weed, piercings, make-up, tatoos, hair coloring, expensive nails, etc.) and expects SO to bank-roll her.

SO, of course, fully supports SOD.  She does, in fact, bankroll her, draining her own paycheck every two weeks to prop up SOD, TPP, and SOD-GK.  In addition to citing the Divinity of Bio-Children as a reason, SO also says that if she tries to implement boundaries, expectations, or consequences, then SOD will cut her off and she will "lose her daughter."  She also knows that SOD would withhold SOD-GK, since SOD has already started withholding SOD-GK from her own father and his family (one of SOD's uncles made a comment questioning SOD's parenting decisions, so he was immediately banned).  And on top of that, SO would lose a source of supply, since SO is a covert narcissist who views her children as mere extensions of her own personality, but that is a whole other post.

Literally **everyone** else in SO's family says she should stop coddling and bankrolling SOD.  They (correctly) note that SOD is never going to grow up or develop life skills if SO keeps de-risking every aspect of SOD's life.  This behavior allows SOD to keep acting like a child, and is stunting her growth since she never has to learn anything.  But, citing the reasons above, SO is firmly on board with her current enabling plan.

I'm not niave.  I know it's too late for SO, SOD, and even SOS.  SO will never implement rulles, boundaries, or consequences.  SO's kids will end up like JRI's skids and be irresponsible "kidults" for the rest of their lives.  But my question is this:  has anyone ever seen their SO pull their head out of their ass, and actually start expecting their kids to grow up?  Did the kids start figuring things out for themselves, and develop life skills?  Or did they end up living in their cars or homeless shelters (which is what SO thinks would happen to SOD and SOD-GK if she ever stopped supporting them).  I am genuinely curious if there are any success stories of spoiled, enabled skids figuring it out in their later lives.


Winterglow's picture

Has it ever occurred to your SO that if you stopped paying all the bills, that SHE might end up homeless? 

paul_in_utah's picture

I'm not a sugar daddy.  There are normal aspects to our relationship.  But here kids aren't one of them.

AgedOut's picture

Because of the point in life I'm at now, waiting for the Mr to retire in a year or two and contemplating retirement $$, I have to ask: is your wife draining her income w/out adding to her retirement funding? Are you expected to pick up the slack and fully support her/her kids after she retires? Or is she planning to keep funding their lifestyle until she's too old to pony up $$ ?

paul_in_utah's picture

Fair questions.  First of all, though, we are not married, and will probably never be married.  I have to limit my financial expsoure to the potential damage she could do, if we were marrieed.

Regarding retirement, she has not one penny put aside.  Every time she builds up any balance in her 401K account, a crisis hits and she has to take out a loan.  These have typically been medical bills that were out of her control. 

HOWEVER, handing her entire paycheck over to SOD is completely within her control.  She makes a good income for our area, but when you are paying over 90% of the expenses for 2 adults and their minor child, nothing is left.

We haven't talked about me supporting her kids when she retires, probably because she is at least 15 years away from retirement, if she can ever afford to retire.  If anything, I will probably retire before her, and I have no plans of paying the bills for these kids.  That could ultimately be what ends our relationship.  SOD and SOS will be in their late 30s by that point, and if they haven't figured it out by then, they never will, and I will have the justification not to support them.  That justification may lead to SO leaving me, but it is still down the road.

lieutenant_dad's picture

There probably are success stories, though I've never experienced one in my personal life. Heck, my mom and SF have been told that so long as they associate with my SSis that their interactions with their other kids and GKs is at stake, yet guess who is living with them again because she hasn't figured out that relying on men to take care of her doesn't work?

Same goes with my BIL. He is nearly 50 years old and has lived with my MIL since his late 20s/early 30s when he got out of prison. He hasn't had a job in several years at this point. He lives off MIL's SSI, FIL's generosity (which includes paying for MIL's house even though they have been divorced 20+ years), and scrap money he gets from odd jobs. Yet when taking care of MIL started to get challenging, he all of a sudden was ready to move out and get a job. FIL has told him that when MIL dies that BIL will be responsible for the house and bills (DH has zero interest in the money or things from the house). I foresee either FIL continuing to support BIL when MIL dies or BIL being homeless within a year after MIL dies (god help us all if FIL dies first).

I think spoiled kids - COD or otherwise - have the best shot if they can change their behavior before they hit adulthood. That's not to say that people CAN'T change when they're older, but they need a big enough catalyst for it. Your SO continuing to support her kids won't push them to do anything different. She'd have to stop forever, and even then, the kids' first instinct would be to find other people to support them the way SO did. Even if they were to hit rock bottom and be homeless or lose their kids or end up in jail, that doesn't mean they'll be driven to acquire new life skills. They'll finally have the opportunity to try, but that doesn't mean they'll do it. Doing nothing is easier than doing something, and doing something you know is easier than doing someting you don't. 

caninelover's picture

Once they hit adulthood, the crap needs to hit the fan and blow back over them for them to change.  

Bratty McBratFace, now 25, still lives like a college student (complete with their communal frat house), has no practical life plan, and acts like a 10 year old.  Including pulling out a sticker book at a recent family gathering instead of actually interacting with her cousins.

So until Nutter kicks her to the curb, and/or DH stops paying some of her bills (car insurance, cell phone) she'll probably stay emotionally stunted.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Your comment made me think about, too, the difference between "failure to launch" and "doing your own thing in life".

Example: I have a good friend who has a Doctorate in Nursing and was a midwife. He spent his 20s in school and moving up the ranks, took on a job that chewed him up, and now he is totally burnt out. He could be EASILY making six figures as a nurse practitioner, especially in an admin role, but he's so over it. So, he has cobbled together an part-time telehealth gig, starting his own business, and doing some event planning to bring in income. He also leads a very unconventional life and is looking to start his own co-op/commune.

He is not a failure to launch, but he definitely is going to live a life that is not what you'd expect from someone who has a doctorate as a medical practitioner. He is much happier having his broad skill set because it brings him varying opportunities, even if he isn't applying those skills as they traditionally would be. He also doesn't have any kids, doesn't plan on having a spouse, and pays his bills. His responsibility level matches his lifestyle.

Granted, he is definitely at one extreme, but I have no issue with folks who only do enough to live, are happy with that lifestyle, and don't drag others into that lifestyle with them or expect others to pay for it. Like for you, if Bratty wanted to be a mermaid and it paid her bills, she was happy, etc then good for Bratty for being a mermaid. Not conventional, but also not a problem. I know Bratty has other problems that put her/them more so into the "failure to launch" category, but you get the idea. If you can handle your own life, live it how you want. Just don't expect others to bankroll it.

caninelover's picture

It's one thing to march to the beat of your own drummer.  But you need to be self supporting and not look to others to pay your bills while you indulge in mermaiding, farming, or whatever impulse comes to mind on any given day.

Right now Bratty is not self supporting and between Nutter and DH she has no reason to be.

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

My beloved pet passed and I've been grief sticken and sleep has been hard to come by.  So I was awake at 0200 am 

and came across this 

and it actually reminded me a lot of your SD and TPP except they don't live with your SO (for now).  But it never seems to end well.  They don't ever willingly become employed on their own and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.  A lot of the posters felt as if they parents could be in physical danger when the gravy train ends for the kidadult and listed several incidents in the news where the parents were murdered when they cut off the kidadults financially.  Still your SO needs to do it.  She isn't doing her daughter any favors or herself.  

SeeYouNever's picture

You're right it's probably too late. This is why it's so important to continually expect more and more out of your kids and encourage them to be independent. They don't get up and launch on their own and if you make life too comfortable then they have no incentive to leave. 

If grandkids come along while the kids are still dependent on you then you've basically lost all hope of them ever fully launching. If somebody is in their mid twenties and hasn't figured out some sort of career or steady employment then it's unlikely they're ever going to be fully self-sufficient.

I've seen a few different types of failure to launch. The first kind is how you describe you have a parent that is more of a friend and doesn't impose any expectations or rules on their kids. These kids end up growing into adults with a lot of bad habits that are financially dependent on their parents.

I managed to launch from my parents. I went to college and then was semi-independent up until about 24 and then after that I was fully independent and didn't need my parents at all anymore. On the other hand my brother has turned 30 and he is still dependent on my parents. They never encouraged him to be independent the way they did for me and never made it uncomfortable for him to stay. I would love to be 30 and not paying rent! I have no idea how he has not managed to stash away money and buy a house by now... Oh yeah because his wife is unemployed and also a dependent of my parents. These two moochers are almost entirely dependent on my retirement age parents. My parents are not going to be able to retire because they have to continue to support these two loads.

The ages from 16-26 are critical to building a career and work ethic, if you don't push your kids to be independent during this time they aren't ever going to launch.

MissK03's picture

This 100%

I know for fact SO and I will NOT make it if that becomes our life. I will not be able to do it. If SS19 isn't out within the next 2/3 years... I will probably be looking to move out. Unless some miracle happens and SO REALLY lays down the law with him. 

OP I really think you need to find someone that treats you better and doesn't use you.. 

CLove's picture

I grew up fairly indepenent as the eldest child. Stayed at home until about 20 and went off to college 500 miles away. But even when at home, I worked parttime and attended Jr college. My brother went straight to college on the other side of the US after high school. Put himself through his masters. Traveled the world alone. Hes now married and parent to 2 children and a spoiled brat wife that he supports.

My parents are happily retired. 

I myself and husband work full time. For some reason, Husbands 2 children are super lazy. He is hard working. Lucky for me hes not enabling too much. So of course he has no recourse with the eldest SD23 Feral Forger who doesnt drive, occasionally has a job and no college. She lives with Toxic Troll -on the couch. Toxic Troll works occassionally and is not working right now. SD16 B/M SEES that life is good on our side and not so good on the other side. She TALKS about college. But shes been 16 for about 2 months and lost the first job I got her and has not made any moves towards getting any kind of job at all. With her own money I signed her up for her online permit class and that was a few months ago. She claims to have gotten 90% through. But still no permit.

At this point, Im disengaged. I feel if shes too immature to finish the permit course, shes too immature to drive. If shes too immature to get a job, then she can stay home and do nothing all day long, just dont complain to ME that you are bored.

So, if you want to see how things started in my story - 5 years ago, go read my blogs. As to the answer to your question, for me, Im still wondering myself.

Rags's picture

Though I have never actually met one.

Even more rare is an SO who pulls their head out and quits facilitating the Skidult dipshits of their failed family breeding efforts.

You do realize that it is you who is bankrolling all of this right. Every penny you cover in SOs life, goes to her crap genetic refuse.

It is not too late for you. Save yourself.