When to let go

QUESTION: Masters, I have 4 children, 3 of whom have been diagnosed as autistic.  I chose to put my own personal gratifications on the side, to be a single, stay-at-home mom. I educated them to give them a better chance to succeed with a life full of joy, happiness—a meaningful life. Now they are 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds. I don’t know if I should move from here, get them into college, or what to do to help them more. I am fiercely protective of them, while their father still acts like a 13-year-old and thinks of only himself. I also find myself wishing my rich father would care enough to give us a helping hand.  I am full of talents but am scared to invest into my passions for fear it will take me away from my children’s needs. How can I best help us ?  ~Dina, Canada

ANSWER: You have done a fantastic job with your children but it is time for them to fly on their own. You have prepared them well and they need to test their wings. To have a meaningful life they need to be able to take care of themselves and exercise their own freedom of choice. If more education is what they seek, help them get started—but then leave them alone.

As protective as you have been, your children are rather naïve about society. They will never be able to take care of their own needs unless they have experience. They can get that experience only on their own. Not all of them will seek to get more education. For those not wanting school, help them prepare for employment. You will not be able to do the job interviews for them, so work through a mockup of an interview.

Their father is never going to change. He will always be totally self-centered. Now, think how much you have involved your father in the children’s upbringing. He is not becoming involved because he feels cut off from them due to your over-protectiveness. Let him get to know them now that they are adults, and solicit his advice on their life from here on out. He has some good ideas.

It is now time to start honoring yourself. Let the kids stand on their own two feet and follow some of your passions—it is never too late.