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Midlife Moments: Talk Back

Here is a chance to help each other with midlife dilemmas. Is there something you would like to get others' views on? Do you have a thought to share in response to others' questions? In this forum, please keep questions short--a brief paragraph, and, similarly, limit your suggestions to a few sentences. Also, it will make this more personal if you give a first name and city with your reply. One more thing--you can respond to any Talk Back question, regardless of the date it was first posted.

  December 29, 1997

Hi Mike:

I am not having a crisis as much as a problem! I can hardly wait until I can get to the point that I get my gold watch, so that I can load up my suburban, hook up to my airstream, and take off for points unknown. My bride thinks this is a FINE idea. The problem comes in, that I can't get my 22 year old to grow up. I have weaned him from the financial faucet, but I haven't figured out how to keep him from doing a huge number on us (guilt wise) when his golden goose lays a rotten egg. I truly believe that we have done our best to "train him in the ways that he should go", the only problem is that he thinks that it is much more fun to wallow in the pig pen, but then he always wants us to rescue him when he gets tired. We don't, but then we have a great guilt burden (mainly manufactured by him).

It is going to be really hard to ride off into the sunset, knowing that he is in such a state. Maybe some of your other guests have discovered the magic potent for this ailment.


MW in Amarillo


You and your wife need to recognize that your job of raising your son is done. That if he screws up....HE screws up, not you! It does not mean that you are/were a bad parent. It means that he has a mind of his own, albeit not always one on target. Huh? It is important that you let him make mistakes AND suffer the consequences. How else will he learn? Have a great trip with your RV. Hang up a little shingle saying, "we deserve to have fun too"

Sandra in Philadelphia


Just follow your heart. You have given him 22 years already! Load up your airstream, let him know where you are, but allow him the opportunity to prove that you did a good job those first 22 years. It will be the best thing you can do for him.

Linni, Thousand Oaks, CA


Hi Mike, This is in regards to M.W. in Amarillo. I hear what your saying loud and clear. Kids who turn into young adults forget we have a life too. I sometimes think I did my job so well that maybe it was to well. Should I have said NO more? Anyway My son is 18 and going to college this year. He is very smart but cant see the financial burden we will go through. Paying the car insurance also is a strain on the budget. I feel there come a time when we just have to let them sink or swim. I know when we were younger our parents didn't have money to hand out and we love them just the same. It seems like kids today in that age group don't have the drive we did to get out on our own. Good Luck to you and don't feel alone. My friends son is 21 and home and lazy.



MW: I think there's such a thing as doing too much for GROWN kids. The time to do for your kids in when they're young, under-age. I have watched my in-laws foul things up for my troubled sister-in-law by bailing her out too many times. Years ago, this sister-in-law dropped out of college (which my in-laws had paid for) and married the wrong guy. When things fell apart, again my in-laws swept it all up, and paid for the damages by being overly helpful with my sister-in-law's life and her children -- financially and emotionally to the point of interference.

Guess what? the sister-in-law is now in her 40s and still hanging around her mom and dad for help. Her kids need help, too, since their mom never grew up -- so my in-laws are not only STILL bailing out their daughter, but also bailing out her troubled kids!! Poor Grandma and Grandpa can't seem to get a life of their own.

Signed, Anne in Ferndale, Michigan


Hey, Mike and MW in Amarillo: My husband and I are having a similar problem with our daughter. Maybe we have been there for her TOO OFTEN, because it seems like at least a couple of times every week she is asking us to bail her out of this or that situation: everything from writing hot checks to babysitting our grandchild. At the moment we are getting the "poor me" routine from her because I refuse to babysit five days a week. I feel like the burden of childcare and seeing that it's provided falls to the parents of the child, NOT the grandparents (who have already done their own share of day-in-day-out child rearing and who now have enough time to explore their world and each other). So, I am sticking to my guns about this babysitting issue, and I think you should yourself stick to your desire to pack up and take off and let your son try to take care of himself for a change. He might get into some scrapes, but hey, he might grow up, too!

Grandma in Texas


I agree with everyone else who's said to let this young adult be responsible for their own actions. I, as a counselor, should know this and yet I had a VERY difficult time not enabling my daughter's behavior too much. The more we gave, the more was expected. I, like others mentioned, wanted to give the "kids" the help I never got. Big mistake. I finally followed my own advice and "cut her off"...even though we had the resources to help her. Guess what? She pulled through fine. Got a job and is now attending college part time and is doing fine. Last week she said, "look how far I've come....". That felt great! And....I still had some money in my pocket which previously would have been in hers!! I write this because I know that many of you are feeling guilty and feel that you should be doing more to make life easier for the "kids". We, including people like myself who've been trained to know the difference, fall into that trap. It takes guts to pull out and to stand up for yourself....and them in the long run. good luck.

susanne in Pennsylvania

After reading my response policies, click here to ask your own brief question, or to respond to someone else. Remember to include a first name and city. Please type "talk back" in the subject box of your e-mail editor.

February 13, 1998

Mike: Hi. It's me again...I asked you a few questions yesterday and then went on to read some of other people's letters. There was one from a Marci who asked how to get back the love and that special feeling in a relationship. You said you would not address that issue since it sounded like her husband was not really interested. Can you address the issue for me as my husband has voiced almost word for word the same things that Marci's husband did...but we have been here for the last five months trying to put our marriage back together after my MLC (I hope that's what it was) and he says that it just doesn't feel the know...the special feeling is gone. I would greatly appreciate it....I miss the love we had.

Rena in Niagara Falls, NY


Rena, I'm putting your question on this page to see if others have suggestions. I asked my wife and she says getting to know (really know) each other again is key. Act as if you just met, and get acquainted all over again. For my part, I think that finding new things to do together helps (my wife and I learned to country dance in our 40s). So what do the rest of you think? Drop a line to Rena on this page.--Mike

February 14, 1998

(See A Midlife Getaway) Well, I am planning an adventure in July...this is causing lots of strong feelings from everyone around me because I want to go alone, my wife is hurt, my grown children think I should be ashamed of myself for not bringing her. But...i feel like I have to do this, just for me. I will travel to the Yukon to see my sister, then through BC to see some other relatives and then to Seattle.....what started off as a great plan is slowly turning into feelings of guilt and sadness as I see how others in the family are reacting. Any advice ?



David, I'm putting this on the talk back page to see if others have some advice. Let's see what happens--Mike

David: Maybe you should print out the "His Midlife Crisis" column from and let your family read it. I know it truly helped me get past some of my husband's (what I consider to be) terrible moments and why I am still hanging in here without "hanging on". I only wish there was a column somewhere that my husband could read that he might better be able to understand some of my irrational behavior. Good luck....and have a nice trip.....because if you truly are in're going no matter what; according to "His Midlife Crisis" anyway. Rena


Hello, this is in response to David who wants to go on a journey in July. Perhaps it would help him to think deeply about why he wants to go alone and not bring his wife with him. That might help him to face his family's reactions. He did not mention why in his letter.

Also perhaps he could schedule some weekends alone before he decides to go on a longer vacation alone and see if that meets his needs.

However I can sympathize with his wife who must be feeling imminently abandoned.

Sara in California

After reading my response policies, click here to ask your own brief question, or to respond to someone else. Remember to include a first name and city. Please type "talk back" in the subject box of your e-mail editor.