We practice law. We practice medicine. Who practices parenting?
We practice law. We practice medicine. Shouldn’t we practice parenting?
‘Practice parenting. That is what you are going to go with?”
My poor husband was baffled. After 15 months of talking about reopening my blog to discuss the phenomenon of being the parent to ALL adult children he was sure I would have a better title that PRACTICE!!
“Why do you have to practice this? You have been a mom for almost 40 years. Aren’t you a pro already?”
As a matter of fact, I am a pro. Dictionary.com defines a professional is someone who is engaged in a profession. (Don’t you love when the definition tells you nothing?) But the word profession is defined as an occupation, especially one that requires PROLONGED training! (Emphasis all mine!).
I have been a parent over three decades and I have been ‘in training’ every day.
Check that one! I am a pro!
But the word practice is used to mean the carrying out or exercise of a profession. Of course you have most often heard this in the use of a law practice of the practice of medicine. Obviously we would all love to read a physician’s post after 35 years of treating the common cold on how to avoid the germs and make the illness pass more quickly, right? If an attorney who have been practicing a quarter of a century posts on how to draw up the unbreakable contract you would read that, right? Sure!
So here I am: professional parent (because of the INTENSE and EXTENSIVE training) and I am putting out my shingle to say: Welcome to my practice!
Lots of us think we are still in the business of practicing— like Little League baseball: show up every day from 3-5 and take a swing and a miss until you get it right. Hence, my tagline: everything worth doing is worth practicing. That should let the readier know: I am still swinging and missing at being a parent to adults…but I am willing for you to grab a seat and watch me swing.
What I REALLY want from the readership is a lot of armchair coaches who can comment on how to better swing at how to celebrate your grown kids when they do something GREAT, like have a birthday! I hope to get coaching advice on posts about when to give advice to your kids and when to take the advice they are giving you.
My goal is that PRACTICE PARENTING can be both a sounding board for when we royally mess this up and an advice column when we truly want and need help.
Celebrate THEIR FIRST BABY!
Mom, we are pregnant!
Mom, help me. I am pregnant.
Mom, how do you feel about being a grandmother?
It doesn’t matter how they tell me–
it is ALWAYS A SHOCK–
AND THEN A JOY
Today folks find new and creative ways to spread the news to their family and friends. Regardless of HOW the news comes to you–you are going to be tempted to SCREAM…either with joy or sorrow.
My advice should be PUMP THE BRAKES AND LET THE COUPLE LEAD THE EMOTION…I really wish I could do that!
When Rachelle called to tell me of her fifth pregnancy in eight years, she was crying. She doubted she could pull off two babies in 15 months. She was exhausted. “Mom, please pray for me.” As I started to pray for strength and comfort, I couldn’t take it. Three sentences in attempting to sympathize with her pain, I gave up. “Dear Lord, you tell us ALL children are a blessing and I have to agree! Thank you! Thank you!” “I’m sorry, Rachelle,” I sobbed, “I really wanted to feel bad with you, but I just couldn’t.”
Laughing through her tears, Rachelle responded, “Mom, I knew I could count on you.”
With 17 grandchildren I have LOTS of experience on being excited with my children let me know they are expecting.
Teddy and Christina had only been married a few months when Teddy was accepted to law school. A few weeks later: an even bigger announcement! Their first baby. Did we shout, “Oh no! How irresponsible?” HECK NO! We jumped up and screamed for joy, right in the middle of a crowded restaurant!
So what about LESS THAN PERFECT CONDITIONS? What do you do when?
I always say this is a dialogue…I would LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS!
- You are struggling with the “Oh no! One more to babysit!” aspect of Grandparenting? Is it off limits to talk to the prospective couple of plans for the new guy?
- You know they are going to need money for the doctor. Do you offer ahead of the ask? Do you make stipulations on the loan?
- You question their parenting of the children they already have, so this announcement makes you worried. Is it your place to mention this delicate subject?
For a few of you reading this post CELEBRATING might not come naturally. That is a heart emotion and no amount of good advice can change your heart.
Prayer and time can change your attitude.
In the meantime, actions speak louder than words! Here are some suggestions for celebrating the new arrival:
Throw the REVEAL party for the couple
If your kids are going to announce the gender of the baby ahead of time offer to participate in the big announcement. Use your gifts to show your excitement!
Send gift cards to the Mother-To-Be
These do not have to be extravagant. She will soon receive lots of gifts for the baby. But currently, she is outgrowing her clothes and suffering with an aching back every night. Clothes and massages can at least remind her that you LOVE and sympathize with her.
Babysit the current kids so Mom and Dad can go out
Sometimes my expectant daughter wants time with one child while she is pregnant to “connect.” That means that I get some one-to-one time with the others in her brood.
Making a human is exhausting work! Allow the mom to enjoy a home cooked meal with her feet up!
Write encouraging cards
Just a few words on a note may make the expectant moms day.
REJOICE with THOSE THAT REJOICE! AND HELP THEM REJOICE!
Our Kate and . Harris waited for their beloved first baby. After hearing that the waiting would continue our kids sat stunned. Within a year they goof around while enjoying their first hours after they introduced themselves to our sweet Jonah!
What are your stories of FIRST BABY? How did you show your kids you wanted to CELEBRATE with them!
Would love to hear your stories!
- What is your favorite physical trait of (insert spouse-to-be)?
- What first drew you to (insert spouse-to-be)?
- If you guys could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What is the funniest thing (spouse-to-be) ever said?
- When did you know (spouse to be) was the one?
Notice: you are focusing on their relationship
and supporting your soon-to-be in-law.
YOU ARE NOT ASKING ABOUT MONEY OR FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN.
That is a hard one, isn’t it?
AVOID THIS IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!
They expect you to ask about money & grandkids, and they expect to put you off.
PRAY FOR PATIENCE AND HOLD YOUR TONGUE!
This planning time may seem to drag on and on…and yet… their married life will be much longer.
You will have plenty of time to give advice.
BIG EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN!!!
What is your priority for the holiday?
As in all of life with adult children:
Keep the main thing the main thing.
What to do when you can’t have your Adult Children for the holidays?
I would LOVE TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS
FOR MAKING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING IN YOUR HOLIDAY.
PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!
BIG EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN!!!
Leaving home is never easy for mom and son.
When I dropped off John at college for the first time, I cried so hard that the man on the plane next to me asked which relative had passed away. The flight attendant offered to bump me to business class so I could “be more comfortable” (read that as “move to a place where you can cry alone”).
Parents can make leaving home a little easier by doing hard things in advance.
This is culminated from a lot of moms who have launched kiddos to college or to another city to work ) :
- Talk about how “adulting” changes your relationship
- Do not act like this is NOT A HUGE change. This is information sharing. Put it on the table.
- What decisions will you make together?
- What decisions will the adult child make on his/her own?
- Will the child make decisions about health or will you? (Are you going to keep tabs on their eating or sleeping? I know some parents whose kids have had health issues who are very stressed about the student’s health concerns.)
- Will the child make spiritual decisions? (Can s/he skip church and still receive your support? Has the child been spiritually growing or stagnant? How willing are you to let this area go? )
- Will the child make financial decisions? Does s/he have a job for spending money that is TOTALLY at his discretion or is some of that cash for eating, housing, expenses?
- Establish a regular time/form of communication.
- Do not expect to talk every day.
- Establish the frequency you want to hear from your child.
- Establish the form of communication you are comfortable with–do you like to text? Instagram? Maro Polo? Talk on the phone? What’sApp?
- DO IT BEFORE THEY LEAVE! How many ways can I say, “set your expectations OUT LOUD!”
- How much freedom will the child have?
- NO ONE HAS COMPLETE FREEDOM: no child, no parent.
- Define the freedoms and PLAY THIS UP!!! Let them know you trust them with freedom–do not focus on the limitations.
- Are you going to know where they are constantly? like an app? like Life360? Mama Bear or GeoZilla? Find my Friends? All of these safety apps help you locate your family or friends round the clock to protect them. Some young adults will find this intrusive and others will see it as a way to keep up with each other without having to communicate every day.
- Explain the benefits and consequences of all these freedoms. What are your responses going to be if the child violates a freedom? (What if she is caught drinking at 18 years old?) What will be your response? LET YOUR CHILD KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT! NO SURPRISES!
- Make an ideal budget and talk about REAL numbers (this didn’t happen till our last one!)
- Create a contract style agreement that establishes under what circumstances you will continue to support them (if you are going to continue to support them!) Ted had all our adult children sign a contract after their eighteenth birthday if they were still being supported by/or living with us. This left no room for surprises when it was time for rewards or changes.
What were some ways you helped your adult child adjust to college, the military, or a new job life? Share your victories and those other times as well…
WHY MAKE A BIG DEAL?
Graduation is a HUGE deal because of the HUGE accomplishment. Even if your adult kids are graduating high school, trade school, college, law school: they worked for this and you need to CELEBRATE THEM!
Unlike birthdays, Christmas, and other celebrations, this is the ONE TIME you get to celebrate the WORK, not just the person of the your adult offspring. Although our love for them, and thus affirmation and encouragement, is unconditional, some super-sized ATTABOYS are reserved for those who sacrificed and FINISHED an achievement.
When Teddy and Terah graduated high school, thus becoming OFFICIALLY adult children, they wanted to forego the cap and gown for a trip to DisneyWorld and a party in the park with friends. DONE. Win-win: we got a trip to Disney and they didn’t have to wear those hot garbs in the summer.
Was this difficult for us because Ted and I both hold doctorates and LOVE traditional pomp and circumstance? YES! I tried hard to convince them that they would regret it–so far no regrets. I have to remember
THEIR GRADUATION IS ABOUT THEM!!!
If they are not going to enjoy the regalia then I should not ask them to do it JUST FOR ME. Every household is different, but matching the celebration to the kid’s personality makes sense.
LIKE THEIR LOVE LANGUAGE, EACH IS UNIQUE, TRY TO CELEBRATE THEIR GRADUATION IN THE WAY THEY WANT TO RECEIVE THE PRAISE, NOT THE WAY YOU ARE COMFORTABLE GIVING IT.
Are traditional graduations ever necessary? YES! If your adult child wants to walk across stage to celebrate this HUGE accomplishment then you should move heaven and earth to make that happen.
I missed the grad ceremony when Kate and Harris received their Master’s, and do I ever regret it!
WE DO NOT KNOW THE FUTURE OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN SO WE SHOULD TAKE EVERY ADVANTAGE TO CELEBRATE EVERY MILESTONE! DON’T EVER THINK, “OH, SHE WILL GRADUATE WITH ANOTHER DEGREE!” OR “SHE WON’T EVEN MISS ME!”
John, Nikki, and Teddy all had traditional college graduations. John and Teddy both graduated on the east coast and that meant travel for A LOT of people! For John’s graduation, Kate drove 250 miles with a two- month old baby, while Rachelle and her crew brought their six-week Titus over 1,000 miles to be there to clap and yell!
Our third son, Teddy, graduated with honors after only 2 and 1/2 years away from Texas. Rachelle left her one year old on Mother’s Day weekend to be with Teddy and again other brothers and sisters all made the trek east to see him walk across the stage from Liberty University.
Graduation emotes so many mixed feelings I can’t imagine missing this for these guys…or my grandchildren.
EVERYONE CAN CELEBRATE A GRADUATE!
SCOTT’S GRADUATION FROM BOOTCAMP
All our kids are different, but celebrations of graduations are universal. When Scott graduated from Boot Camp from the US Marine Corps, our whole county got in on the celebration.
When Scott came home from USMC on leave after Boot Camp, his dad was running for office. So besides the immediate family (which is about 32 folks!), Scott walked in a Christmas parade shaking hands with adoring fans and inspiring all of us to citizenship and patriotism.
Of course, private celebrations MUST follow public congrats so our family celebrated BIG apart from the crowd.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate your graduate: unconventional, conventional, private, public, be sure of one thing:
CELEBRATE YOUR ADULT CHILD FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT THAT CAN’T GO UNSUNG!
This week is the second in a nine week series entitled BIG EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN!!!
This week: CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS WITH ADULT KIDS!
As the mom of an adult, you have to learn to SHARE major celebrations with the friends, spouses, and maybe even children of your adult child. One mom who had always enjoyed doing a big celebration with her kids confessed that sharing her kids on their birthdays really took some getting use to. “It was like she forgot all the fancy cakes and birthday parties I threw when she was a kid!”
BIRTHDAYS ARE BIG! Forget the presents and make plans for an event!
These pics were from a birthday party my kids gave ME several years ago–not in the 60’s, but what can be more fun than dressing up and playing pretend with your adult kids?
Sharing your children on their birthdays doesn’t have to hurt! This year I am celebrating one of my girl’s a month early because she has a hubby and kids who want to make her special that day.
My daughter Kate taught me, “Why does it have to be confined to ONE DAY?” Ever since then we have been big BIRTHDAY MONTH celebrators! (Confidentially, even though I have a birthday calendar I still often miss the actual DAY of the birthday so I need the GRACE for the entire month!)
Taking a note from the page of my adult children:
Birthday celebration with your adult kids should be PRIVATE as well as public. A FACEBOOK “Happy birthday, Son” is not nearly as meaningful as a heartfelt (and edited!) text early the morning of their birthday.
Birthdays celebrate THEM! Do not recount your 72-hour labor at the party or in an email or FB post. Celebrate THEIR life, not your hard work. (Save that for Mother’s Day!)
Birthday emotions = HAPPY! Never use this as a manipulation tool to punish them for not calling you for three weeks or not including you in their party with friends. FOCUS ON THE HAPPY in ‘Happy birthday!’
Birthdays are for FUN! Even though birthday cards, texts, and notes honor your adult child…sometimes you need to go all out. Our Nikki LOVES to throw a “WHODUNNIT Murder Mystery” for birthdays and we have love becoming super-sluethy with our big kids. ENJOY the birthday people!
Finally, Birthdays BRING life! In an awkward stage with your adult kids? Use their birthdays to reconnect with PURE JOY AND LOVE…expect nothing in return. They already gave you the gift of motherhood!
BIG EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN!!!
- Going off to college/work
- Getting married
- Having a baby
- Adding more children
Even though BIG EVENTS are happy moments in the lives of our adult kids (and usually ourselves) maybe you are asking:
How can I continue to be the cheerleader to my kids even when they are grown?
How do I celebrate their accomplishments if they are far from me?
What can I do to show my support for their endeavors when I hardly understand their day-to-day life?
How can I celebrate them without “going over the top?”
What do I get to know their life better so I can REJOICE with them?
Lack creative ideas to celebrate their “big kids” now? Celebration of the BIG events does not have to be an extravagance of time, money, or energy (although don’t be afraid to go BIG with your bigs if you can! Spoiling is justified since most of them are celebrating significant others, spouses, and/or children instead of themselves!) for the occasion to remind them that you think they are terrific.
In the weeks to come I will give you specifics but for starters begin your creativity with ideas that include:
- What is their love language? Can you focus on really making them feel special in the way they can receive it the best? For an adult child whose love language is acts os service, hiring a cleaning crew to do her house for her special day YELLS, “You are great and I adore you!”
- Can you include someone they would not expect to be celebrating with you? The summer before they were married John and Brandy had to spend weeks apart because of work. We flew Brandy to Texas to attend a celebration with John. His only critique? “Why didn’t you bring her sooner?”
- Can you think of something that worked in the past and give it a new twist? When our Kate was in college I couldn’t be there for her birthday so I sent her a birthday party in a box. True, she did have to make the cake and hang the streamers herself, but her new roomies got to have a party!
Hopefully in the next few weeks we will come up with GREAT IDEAS together to celebrate the BIG EVENTS in the lives of our adult children!