Ok, so far I’ve mostly focused on how those of us becoming adults can do so more gracefully. This lesson is aimed at PARENTS!
Some while back, my daughter (who was already over 18) called me up and said her mom was complaining about over-crowding in their apartment, and had threatened to box up a bunch of my daughter’s things, and throw them out into the trash dumpster.
Let me say this once, very clearly. IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE TO HOLD ANOTHER PERSON’S BELONGINGS HOSTAGE TO GET YOUR WAY IN A DISPUTE.
To put it in terms you adults can understand, let me create a little story for you. Let’s say that you have a job, with a very greedy boss. Mostly the job is alright, and you rarely have to deal with the boss directly, so you stay. Then, one day, the boss anounces that he’s building a new parking structure that all employees will be required to use. It’s free. But there is a catch. From the moment your car enters the parking structure, it isn’t allowed to leave in less than 10 hours. This is his way of enforcing extra production, to guarantee the company’s proffits go up.
Stop and picture yourself in that situation. Really get ahold of it. How does it make you feel?
THAT IS EXACTLY HOW your child feels when you tell them how they can/can’t handle the items you’ve given them/bought them – or that they have bought with their own money. Those things are THEIRS. The minute you deliver it to them, you need to cut the strings and leave the item’s fate entirely up to the recipient. When you give them something, and then start setting terms on the use of that thing, you are keeping control over it. That makes the recipient feel that it really isn’t theirs – and sometimes they will end up not taking ANY responsiblility for it. Why? Because it’s still yours. They don’t want it if they can’t really have it.
As to the specific situation with my ex-wife and my daughter – here is this observation. My ex knew perfectly well how much of the apartment was filled with my daughter’s posessions before she left her husband to move in with my daughter. If either of them needs to give up space, it should be my ex-wife. She has somewhere else to store things, at least for now. But, under NO circumstances is it alright for her to move into a place my daughter already had claimed as her own, and start telling my daughter what she can or can’t have, or keep there, just for the convenience of my ex-wife.