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After giving up so much for my children I now feel very sad that they accuse me of selfishness

heart to heart About the Questioner
Philosophy: All life deserves respect as this present life is but a small part of the true lifespan of a spirit for which knowledge is the true "food".
Hopes and aspirations: Being part of the solution instead of the problem, I already know what my role should be and am presently preparing myself for that task.
I have had to raise my children (a girl and a boy) by myself. Having had a very difficult and often traumatic childhood myself, I've tried to spare my children a lot of difficulties, however, being not very emotionally stable myself at the time, I have not always succeeded. Mostly I have ensured that in spite of the fact that money was often laking, they had everything the other kids at school had. Of course, I often had to work two jobs in order to insure this.

Very liberal as far as discipline is concerned and slightly childish myself at times, I've often played with my children, took them camping, outings, read to them almost every night until they were quite old.

Now that they are 19 and 21, I chose to exile myself to another country in order to afford paying for their apartment, college and university, books, food, transport and everything else they need. I now know this is too much and that in order to help them become responsible for themselves I must reduce the financial help I give them. However every time I try to do so, I get recriminations, accusations of selfishness, I get phone calls in the middle of the night about how I am enjoying life abroad and them having to work part time in coffee shops and study. If I make the mistake of mentioning the fact that I had no one looking out for me from the age of 17, and that there are so many young adults who would appreciate having just half of what they enjoy, they accuse me of exaggerating and that these are different times than when I was young.

I hardly ever hear from them except when they need money or complain about each other. To make matters worse my daughter now has a live-in boyfriend who hardy ever works... guess who is asked for more money every month? It has gotten to the point where I dread calling them. After giving up so much for them I now feel very sad, disappointed and even guilty. I know I was far from the perfect parent but after all I did my best with all my heart.
Reply by Coach Phil Evans
Phil Evans In short, you have to learn to let go of their manipulative behaviors, and absolutely refuse to let them control the quality of your life from this point forward! It is time for YOU!

They have their lives ahead of them, and it is time that they started to take responsibility for their own lives. It is only your guilt that is allowing them to control your emotions as they do.

Please be aware that these answers to you are not coming from a place of harsh and hard parental experiences; on the contrary actually, as I have a soft heart and a caring soul. What I am very aware of is that we can all be controlled by our own emotions if we allow that to happen. This is about becoming very aware that it is time for YOU! ... as you deserve to 'really live' now. Really live!

Their lessons are ahead of them, and if you do what every other creature in nature does, let them go to fly or hunt on their own, then you are doing your job 100% in line with what nature asks of you.

Your new rule for life (if you choose to accept it) is this: To thine own self be true!

Another suggestion is this (as hard as this may be for you to do): if they only call you or make contact when they 'need' something like more money, then it is up to you to change the dynamics by changing how you communicate and what you say when you do (if you do). If they start to complain and manipulate you with guilt-trip moaning and groaning, simply tell them that 'enough is enough', and change the conversation - or end it!

Remember this rule of life: We teach others how to treat us! You are now aware and consciously responsible for your actions, and/or reactions. Another rule of life: What other people do or say is their stuff; and how we react, or not; is our stuff!

In short, you can either allow them to continue 'using you,' or you can choose to change your behaviors or reactions by building your own self esteem to a point of realizing that you have done your best, and it is time to let go with love! Not malicious intent; with loving intent; which is meant for them to grow up and start taking responsibility for themselves.

I send this with love and respect - from my heart to yours - and I do hope that this helps you.
Response from Questioner
Thank you very much Phil, I guess I kind of knew that my children were playing with my feelings, especially the guilt I felt for my choices. But you helped me face the fact that the longer you wait before pushing the chick out of the nest, the harder it will be for it to learn to fly. So when the next phone call came, I took all the courage I had and sternly spoke to my children. I told them what I expected from them, made my arguments and than finished by telling them that I was proud of their school marks but that it was time for them to take on more of the responsibilities of adulthood. To my surprise there was no outcries, no outrage, just calm acceptance.

My daughter has now proudly left home to live with her boyfriend in their own apartment which they pay for by themselves, all I pay is her university fees and books. My son will now stay at our home and continue college, but he has taken a part-time job and without his big sister around, will have to learn caring for his laundry, shopping, cooking and all other household chores. He will also see to paying the bills and general administration of the household during my absence as I continue working abroad.

It feels like so much weight was been lifted off my shoulders, I am so much more at peace, with myself and interestingly enough; with my children. My theory is that they feel proud and happy in having been given the room they needed to become adults. It is now time for me, my career, and a social life. I am the happiest at almost 44 than I have ever been in my life. Thank you again for the kick in the pants I needed.
Further reply by Coach Phil Evans
Thank you for this wonderful response. It is my pleasure to be of assistance to you in some of life's precious lessons; and am sorry that it was felt as a kick in the pants; but glad that it was felt at all. And so pleased that the outcome/s have been so uplifting and have led to good feelings for you! My best wishes to you for now and the future.

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