I’m not Next of Kin ( NOK) anymore

My 21 year old son recently got a job as an apprentice carpenter . He still lives at home and basically pretty much still financially supported by myself.

He pays his car running costs but if he doesn’t have enough money we help him out. I pay for all his medical expenses, and he enjoys the spoils of living at home. Meals cooked for him, unless he decides he doesn’t like what we are having and decides to buy take away, not worrying about costs of utilities or home maintenance. I do his washing and nag him to tidy his room and clean up after himself as any parent does with children at home. I help him out with clothes and tools required for work within reason.

He is a second year apprentice and starting with a new firm and has a senior coworker who has been giving him a hard time about his tools and not making him feel a welcome member of the team. To try and make the initiation into the new job smoother I bought him a new drill set so he was a little more self sufficient with tools and not having to ask to borrow others. I’m proud of his efforts and his drive to get a new job when the previous one fell over due to that employer facing some hard economic times and letting some staff go including my son who as I mentioned was just entering his second year apprenticeship.

He was sitting with his girlfriend on the couch filling out the employment form and the question of Next of Kin came up and he put his girlfriend of 1 years name down. She also lives at home with her parents.

I was taken back and said how come you aren’t putting me down I’m your mother. I figured as he was still living at home with his mum and I financially am supporting him I would naturally have been his next of kin.

For me NOK is a big thing. I work in a hospital so my mind immediately thinks of a medical emergency and who is going to be called. I said to Archie my son, so if you have a medical emergency, may be about to take your last breath you want Bridget your girlfriend to be called. He replied, ‘yeah I put her down for everything’.

This really questioned my place in his life. It’s another parental responsibility we give up as our children get older. Archie is 21 so in Australia considered an adult and therefore he can legally choose whoever he wants to be listed as next of kin.

I have nothing against Bridget but her and Archie are dating albeit 12 months but they have no formal commitment to each other. If my son is dying at work she will get the call, not me. My son who is my youngest and my flesh and blood who I bought into this world and who I still feel very much is relying on me for financial support and housing and other material matters and at times guidance and emotional support as a 21 year old living at home with his parents does, doesn’t feel it’s me who he would want called in an emergency.

I know there is nothing malicious in his decision towards me. He is a young adult who is breaking away from the apron strings as children entering into young adulthood do, but it was a very confronting moment. A moment of feeling not significant. A moment of not feeling wanted or needed at what potentially could be a catastrophic moment, a significant illness, injury or even apon his death. If my son is hurt or harmed until now I am the one who has been called and raced to his side. I’m the main person who has cared for him all his life. He grew inside of me, I squeezed him out and held him in my arms in his first moments of life and since he was 2 years old and his dad dying of cancer, it’s me who has been there.

My older two children now live out of home. Rupert is married so naturally his wife becomes NOK and Jane my 25 year old daughter lives with her boyfriend. I thought about that. Who does Jane have as NOK. I reasoned that at 25 and financially supporting herself and living independently then Harley her 30 year old boyfriend is the natural NOK and I don’t have an issue with that. But Archie lives at home and my youngest. He’s my baby and will always be my baby, the youngest. I feel the youngest for me has been the hardest to let go out into the world.

I’m quite shocked about my response and feeling about Archie stating on his employment form that Bridget is NOK. There are so many confronting issues we face when our children become young adults and our new place as parents in their life. I felt hurt, disappointed and surprised that I no longer was the person he now turns to in a crisis. It’s about letting go. It’s about accepting your changing role as a parent when your children become young adults.

Has anyone else been in my situation? Am I crazy to feel like I do? Is this normal? No one talks about what it’s like as your children become young adults and as their mum the letting go. I think it’s a conversation that needs to be discussed so much more.

Love Lucy x

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