Trina was in a quandary. Her 24-year-old son Justin was begging her to pay next semester’s college tuition, and she just didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, she was anxious for him to complete his degree and get a full-time job, especially since he still lived rent-free with his mom and dad. On the other hand, Justin never saved much of the money he made at his job and already owed his parents thousands of dollars in loans he had used to pay for a car, college, and so on. He always offered a re-payment plan, but his resolve always dwindled after a few months.
One year earlier, Trina and her husband, worn out from trying to get their son to be responsible, told him they would no longer lend him any money. But this time seemed different: With only one semester to go until graduation, Justin was desperate and even promised to take on another part-time job. As usual, he had put off applying for financial aid until it was too late, and the deadline for registration was the following day. Trina felt torn. Her husband told her he would support whatever she decided.
After talking with a friend and writing in her journal, Trina still had no clarity. She decided to go for a hike, since being out in nature always helped clear her head. As she tied her hiking boots, she said a prayer, turning the decision over to God and asking for a sign about which way to turn. She felt relieved when she arrived at the trailhead, and she set off on a familiar trail. After walking for an hour, she felt more relaxed, but still had no answer, so she decided to take a previously untried route back toward the trail head.
After forty-five minutes of treacherous climbs on overgrown trails, Trina was exhausted and realized she was lost. Stopping to drink some water, she got her bearings and headed off again, hoping to find herself back at her car shortly. Instead, fifteen minutes later she made a startling discovery: a full hour after embarking on this detour, she was back at the exact same place where she had started!
Sitting down on a rock, Trina roared with laughter as it dawned on her that she had, indeed, received her sign. “If I give Justin the money, I’ll wind up in the exact same place I always wind up, and I’ll be more resentful and poorer than ever.” Descending the trail, she thanked God for illuminating her path. Later, she and her husband told Justin that they would not loan him the money, but that they had every confidence in him being able to figure out what to do. Then they took themselves out for a nice Italian dinner.
Turning difficult decisions over to their Higher Power and asking for direction are powerful tools for parents of adult children.
Wendy Boorn received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University in 1967. Following graduation, she married, moved across the country, and spent 11 years as a wife and stay-at-home mother of two. Graduate school followed and, in 1980, led to a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State University.