Our Kids Drove Us Crazy

When Michael and Annette's children moved back home, Michael said the kids needed to find themselves, but Annette thought they should move on -- and out. How did they find harmony under one roof?
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Growing Pains

When we first met Annette and Michael Feinstein, they couldn't stop fighting about their "boomerang kids." Mark, then 26, and Robyn, then 25, had both returned home after college "with no intention of getting lives of their own," as Annette put it when we ran their story in May 1995. Even worse, their kids had brought four dogs between them, one of whom was accident-prone. "I'm tired of being a mother," lamented Annette, a retired schoolteacher who was ready to focus on herself -- specifically to take dance classes and learn yoga. But whenever she raised the subject with Michael, a CFO for a national homebuilders company, he dismissed her, saying she should be more understanding because kids need to "find themselves." But after two years of a full house, Annette had had enough. She moved out.

"She says that they'll never be able to stand on their own two feet because I spoil and pamper them," Michael told us. "But I feel like I have to be their champion because Annette isn't." Annette suggested they seek counseling with Susan Heitler, PhD, a clinical psychologist in nearby Denver, and Michael agreed. With Dr. Heitler's encouragement, Michael, now 68, acknowledged he needed to tell the kids to start looking for jobs; and Annette, now 67, moved back home. Within weeks, Robyn found a position in a CPA's office and a place of her own. By the following fall, Mark was in medical school and living on campus. Now, almost nine years later, we caught up with the Feinsteins to find out how freedom feels.

Continued on page 2:  Did They Succeed?


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