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I Joined the Military to Escape From My Parents

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m so sick of both of my parents. Their behavior is so embarrassing to me. When I was growing up, I would hear people say that every parent wants their children to do better than them.

Well, I absolutely wanted to do better than my parents! They are a big reason I joined the Air Force because I had to get away from them.

Honestly, Ms. Vicki, my parents are like a reality show. First of all, my parents are divorced and I was shuffled between them while I was growing up, but neither was better than the other.

Both of my parents act like teenagers. I’m the one who tries to steer them in the right direction and I tell them how to manage their lives.

They stay out and party all night. As a matter of fact, both of them will have to miss work the next day because they do nothing but party with people who are younger than me and I’m 26.

They get fired from jobs, dress like teenagers and they both like to date people who are barely 20. What’s wrong with my parents, Ms. Vicki, and what should I do to try and help them?

They even borrow money from me and never pay it back. I don’t live near them now, but I could be getting stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in January. That’s less than an hour from both of my parents and I would be miserable. Would you please shed some light on this situation?

Sincerely,
Adult Child of Immature Parents

Dear Adult,

There is an old adage: Growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. Your parents are immature and haven’t grown up yet. From the way it sounds, they are still stuck between the ages of 16-21.

I know this is a very serious matter to you. You feel like you are responsible for your parents and they are rebelling against your guidance.

Somehow, the roles have reversed with you being the parent and them acting like teenagers. This may be tough for you, but I think you have to step away from your current role.

Your parents are grown adults, even though they are not behaving that way. They get to live like they don’t have a care in the world, but you are the one who is stressed out.

My advice is to first stop lending them money. You have to offer them tough love by allowing them to figure things out. You can’t be their backup resource.

You are a young adult. You are just getting started in your career. You need your money, so you can’t loan it to people who won’t pay you back. Just say “no” and continue to manage your own finances and save your money.

If you are stationed in Maryland, you will have to set firm boundaries around your visits with your parents. Remember, don’t try to parent them. They will figure it out -- even if they haven’t done so yet.

It sounds like the Air Force was a good option for you. I’m proud of you for serving your country. Try to seek support from other mature adult relatives and friends. Lastly, ask your parents to read my list below.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

10 ways to know you are an immature parent

    • Your children schedule a family meeting to discuss your behavior. You (the parent) are constantly in the “hot seat." You constantly need an intervention.
    • Your children believe your friends are a bad influence on you. There’s nothing like a parent who has peer pressure.
    • You had a backstage pass to Lil’Weezie’s concert and you walk through your house singing Taylor Swift’s “We are Never Getting Back Together."
    • You like to party with your children and their friends.
    • You were invited to the Maury Show for a sexy mom/sexy dad makeover.
    • After your last divorce, you only date people who are in their late teens or early 20s. Currently known as a “Young Shawty."
    • The last PTA meeting at your child’s school was about you.
    • You cashed in your whole-life insurance policy for a new Harley.
    • You shop in the Junior-Plus section for new clothes.
    • You changed your children’s curfew to match yours. This is great for safety because everyone will return home at the same time.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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