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Raising An Adult Child

Lily_Blake26

Lily_Blake26

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Apr 7, 2015
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Hello there, my name is Lily, and I came across this site while seeking some answers for one of my children.

To make a VERY long story somewhat short: I am a young mother with three kids. Two of them are biologically mine, the third began as a dear friend, whom I now take care of like my child simply because she is one. She has experienced what many have called Infantilism for her entire life, and is only just now having her needs met. She harbors immense guilt and shame for the mental state she has, but has no desire to be a 'grown up.' This is all perfectly fine with me, as I simply love her for who she is, but I am at a loss as to how to properly take care of her. With my other children, (toddlers), it is my job to help them grow and make them functioning adults, and my youngest wants no part in this because she wishes to stay a baby. Again, while I do not wish to change that about her, I fear that I may unknowingly do something 'wrong' and cause even more trauma than she has already suffered.

If anyone has any experience with this condition, I would be so appreciative of your opinions and advice. They are very much needed in this difficult time.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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Hi

That's a tricky situation you're in, and fair play for taking on your friend as well as your own two kids. When you say she has Infantilism her whole life - what do you mean - how does this manifest? Is she emotionally immature (as some people are due to their childhoods), or something else?

You also mention she has immense guilt and shame for the way she is..... but no desire to change? That must create quite a lot of tension within her, and she's obviously 'adult' enough to realise that it's perhaps not a healthy way to be. Kids don't have any guilt about being kids, generally - they just 'are' kids; it's adults who experience shame and whatnot about how they 'ought' to be. Which makes me wonder if there isn't some awareness there at least.
Does your friend get any support from mental health services - therapy or anything like that? I guess I"m wondering if letting her remain childlike is the best thing for her really, which is why I ask. I get that you want to look after her and be good to her - and she's lucky to have such a good friend in you - I guess I just wonder if it's the best thing for her in the long run.
 
Lily_Blake26

Lily_Blake26

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Joined
Apr 7, 2015
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Thank you for the quick reply pepecat! It is greatly appreciated!

Yes, this girl has lived with Infantilism her entire life. It does not necessarily manifest itself in sexual ways, as it does in a lot of people, she is namely just mentally and emotionally 'stunted' if you will. She attended college, got married, had children, and successfully held down a job for many years, but she was never fully present. She calls it 'pretending' because she doesn't consider herself an adult. Intellectually, she is as smart as any other person her biological age, if not smarter, but as she puts it, 'her adult self has wide breadth but nearly no depth.' She believes that adults are scary and nasty, and wants no part of that world. She tries to understand more adult things when she talks with others, but it is very clear that is simply a child trying to put on an adult mask.

She does harbor an immense amount of guilt, simply because she feels as though she is a burden to those she cares about the most, her partner and children, namely. I truly believe the core of her true self is infantile, but most of her family is not supportive of this, and she feels as though she has cheated them on some level. She has so much awareness about the things around her that it causes unnecessary stress for her as well.

As far as mental health services, she does see a therapist on a regular basis, and has done so for many years. It seems to give her the 'outside reassurance' she needs to prove to herself that she is not necessarily 'wrong.' She consistently tells me how much she loves and needs me, which is so nice to hear, and honestly, I love it. I have always been a nurturer to those around me, and I care so much for her, that I don't mind taking on a third baby, I just wish there was a book I could read that would help me raise her the way she needs. She is absolutely mortified any time I speak of growing up, even if it isn't in reference to her, and I am afraid of accidentally doing something to make her regress even more.
 
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