Saving vs. Supporting Adopted Adult Children

Dear Parent,

I read a tweet today from a lovely woman who said something like, and I do not quote: I cannot save my children; I love them, but I give up on trying to save them. Okay, I truly cannot remember what she wrote, but this is what I took away: Our children have their own trajectories. I have written that before–our children have their own trajectories–and I still think it so.

When I seriously bite down on the bone of it, there is nothing truer. I felt compelled to “save” my very young children from what I feared would be their collective destiny–stealing, lying, hurting people, maiming animals, and eventually getting sucked into the dark side of prison life. They were 5- and 6-years-old at the time. Really? Yes, I did fear that.

Now, I know the truth. I could not save my children from their respective trajectories because they always had their own from the start.

Here is my best frame. If my children can take in my love; accept my structure; learn from natural consequences; and heal from my efforts, then they will be all that they can be. That is enough. If they cannot do all of that, then they will be all that they can be. And, that is enough, too.

As I write, neither of my children has gone to college; neither has held a job; neither is successful by societal standards; and neither is on any other path to expected norms, per se. To that I say, Big deal.

Every day, each of my children takes two steps forward and one step back. I am so proud of them. They are weathering tidal waves and tsunami-like odds against success. They keep on. They press on.

When I listen to their pained ways of thinking about themselves, I know the truth. They have their own trajectories. I cannot save them. I can love them, and help them whenever I truly can. That is what family is for, right? The rest is up to them, because they have their own trajectories, and I cannot save them.

Attachment Help

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,


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The next 8-hr. Attachment- and Trauma-informed Therapeutic Parenting Workshop is specially scheduled for one day–July 23rd–from 9am to 5pm. We usually hold the training on two days, but this is an exception for those who cannot find time on two consecutive Saturdays to attend a training.  To register, go to  Childcare provided for an additional fee. Email to register.

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