DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is my pride and joy. He's my only child, so that makes it even stronger. Unfortunately, even though it wasn't my intention, I feel as though I've officially spoiled him rotten. And at the age of 23, I think it's too late to turn him around. When he had his first baby at 17, I was furious. He was barely entering into adulthood, and now he had to figure out how to raise a baby while still a child himself. I was so disappointed, but nonetheless I stepped in whenever and however I could. I helped him, praying that he'd learn from his mistake. At 19, he got another girl pregnant, this time with a beautiful baby girl. He was still young, but I could see that the first baby matured him. I had no doubts that he could raise it well. I was once again upset at his carelessness, but he stepped up and I didn't have to help out as much.
Yesterday I overheard him on the phone with his current girlfriend. He's now expecting yet another baby. He doesn't know that I know it yet, but at this point I'm so hurt and disappointed. He hasn't learned a thing, and it hurts that although I raised him the best I could, he listened to nothing. He's now constantly dropping the kids off at my house so he can either go hang out or take his girlfriend out. I've had enough. I cannot keep cleaning and mopping up his mistakes. I love my grandbabies dearly, but I can't keep doing this. I still want to see them sometimes, but all the time is becoming too much. I'm only 43. I shouldn't have to stop living my life because of his carelessness. How do I tell him I'm done doing the parenting without making it seem like I don't want my grandbabies in my life at all? -- Young Grandma, Detroit
DEAR YOUNG GRANDMA: It is not too late to establish boundaries. Give your son times when you can watch the children and when you are unavailable. Have a sit-down with him where you express your concern about his behavior and the subsequent responsibilities. Make it clear that his children are his duty, not yours, and this includes the one on the way.