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.
Often EXCELLENT servants can teach the rest of us a thing or two about exactlyhowto place the napkin around the birthday plate to make the honoree feel loved!
One way Kate and Harris fill each other’s tank is through allowing the other to have some personal rec time. Kate encourages Harris to play golf and Harris makes a way for her to enjoy yoga every week. ACTS OF SERVICE are usually spelled TIME!
I have said before—serving my kids is serving me.
Nikki throws a GREAT party! This one-year old party for Alana not only served her baby girl but ALL the family ad friends that fit in the house…and pool.
Nikki is a ‘daddy’s girl’ so when he give her of his time and attention her love tank fills in a hurry!
Terah’s weekly acts help her sister Rachelle fulfill her calling of studying to be a midwife and work with her hubby in the construction industry.
Terah spent time honoring Emma on her 12th birthday as we all helped Emma make the “journey” to womanhood.
Although they don’t live in our home, our Adult Servers need us to help fill their love tanks!
We never seem to have enough time to do the things we really wanna do once we find them….
Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle
- Schedule a mani/pedi (we recently did this and I had to bail because Ted took me away for a few days to the beach…. Thinking that he was filling my tank with quality time! It is a nice ‘almost win’ but it really doesn’t fill the tank if it doesn’t happen).
- When we have a conversation, I do not play on my phone or get distracted. I look her in the eye.
- Even if I can’t be present, I have video chat conversations about events in her life.
- Schedule a common place to meet for dinner—even if it is on the fly and on our way to other meetings,
- Make time for her to have time with her hubby and others who can fill her tank.
- Plan to come early and help set up for a family event so we can chat.
- Calling and asking questions about work and his projects.
- Going to his town to hear him preach.
- Sitting on the sofa and listening to stories of his latest escapades.
- Going to the capitol and listening to him testify before a Senate hearing and other big events.
This annual event shows how I scheduled out time so that their love tanks can be filled by the other siblings and spouses as well as myself. Since a couple of my kids’ love language is quality time, I realize that I don’t have to be the one to fill the tank—I just need to make sure the tank is always topped off!
He was always my hugger as a little boy.We snuggled on the couch for hours.I miss having my kids sit in my lap and look into my eyes. Is that weird?
Parents of adult children can have a tough time figuring out how to speak love into their adult kids.
- Pat her on the back
- Welcome him with a hug
- Make direct eye contact when she is speaking to you
- Stand shoulder to shoulder when making a meal
- Put your arm around him when taking a picture
- Sandwich her hands in both of yours when you give her a compliment
- Touch his arm as he is saying good-bye
- Encourage touch football, wrestling, or sports with all the adult kids
- Hold, hug, cuddle their little ones—when you have done it for their children you have done it for them (but you knew that!)
What happens when you find out you have injured this child? You know that answer also: lovingly apologize. You may not even remember the event, but the feeling of lovelessness is REAL to the child—and you love the child more than your own pride. I know you do.
We love our adult children.
We care for their welfare.
We want only the best for them.
Sometimes, when we often try to express that love, our words and actions come off as nagging, patronizing, cajoling, or bribing instead of loving our dear ones.
Nothing is further from the truth. Obviously as adults they can RATIONALLY say, “Of course, my parents love me.” And as 20-somethings and 30-somethings they may not be as prone to throwing tantrums which ends in door slamming and yells of “You don’t even love me.”But, not for one minute should we forget that they need to FEEL the love that we have for them.Feeling loved becomes even more important in the ADULTHOOD of our children. Why?
- They are being asked to fill the love tanks of others now—their spouses, significant others, and possibly our GRANDCHILDREN, AKA their kids.
- They are living BUSY adult lives and are not as free to spend time and resources cultivating the love relationships they once had with us as their parents or their spouse—the two tiers of folks who are most RESPONSIBLE to fill up their love tanks.
THEREFOREthey NEED to give away more love (and fill others love tanks) even while having less time, resources, and emotional power to cultivate their own love tanks.
The next five weeks will be about each of the languages and how we can SPEAK that LANGUAGE to our adult children.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words will break my heart.”
The power of life and death is in the tongue.
When our children were young and they started squabbling and bickering we had a rule: if you can’t learn to be friends with your brother and sister you won’t be allowed to make friends with anyone else.
- Continue (as we should be practicing every week) to affirm and support ALL the kids.
- Nurture and support the one who is wounded through affirming words, texts, cards, and notes.
Just as words can hurt, they can also heal—but it takes longer! Keep encouraging through words and actions.
Be there for your hurting child.
Celebrate when your child has a victory!
It is JUST as important now as when they were young!
She is your idol.
You don’t think your kids do any wrong.
You always take the side of your kids.
These and other remarks that were meant to hurt me still remind me of a cardinal rule of parenting adult children:
BE LOYAL TO THEM
Be assured that
* They will mess up
* They will embarrass you
* They will fail to pay you back the money you loaned them
* They will hurt a sibling or close friend
* They will revert (hopefully temporarily) to their teen years and humiliate you
* They will make HUGE mistakes and EPIC FAILS
* They might lie about the huge mistakes and epic fails
They may do all these things on the SAME DAY
But one thing is SURE:
They will do these things less and recover quicker if they know you have their back.
Will they deserve your loyalty?
Did they have to earn your love?
The answer to both of those questions should be a LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”
When I was growing up we had a phone on the wall (ANCIENT HISTORY LESSON FOR THE DAY…yep, a real life artifact of a lost culture) and next to the phone a sign read, “People need love the most when they deserve it the least.”
As a ‘good girl teenager’ I thought that was outrageous! I thought when my brothers deserved love the least they needed a spanking—not love. I was wrong about a lot of things back then…including what my brothers needed from my folks.
I could never understand how my mom and dad loved my misguided siblings even more when they showed their misguided ways to the world.
Then I became a mom and it all made more sense.
Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.
Woodrow T. Wilson
Does it cost us to be loyal to our adult children? Absolutely.
As I was writing this I thought of so many stories when one of my friends (or a friend of my adult children) questioned why I had made a certain decision about one of my kids. These well-meaning, good-willed persons wanted me to throw my kids under the bus—although that was not the language they used. They simply wanted “some clarity” or “a little more understanding” about a situation my kids were involved in.
Honestly, I started writing three different stories that showed how loyalty to my kids had cost me some friendship credit with my girlfriends. But then, I deleted them.
The cost of my loyalty to my kids is not something I need to brag about—or even declare to the world. AND YOU DON’T NEED TO JUSTIFY YOURS EITHER.
Just like we would not have traded our toddler’s antics and fits in the middle of the restaurant for someone else’s, we wouldn’t trade our adult kids’ stories and CRAZY with anyone else either—so breathe.
The cost of my loyalty is similar to last weekend when I was taking homemade pizza to my daughter- in- love so we could spend time admiring my four-month old grandson. When she reminded me to leave the cheese off her half (baby reacts to dairy!) I remarked, “Oh, the things we give up for our kids!” Her immediate response, “Totally worth it!”
Giving up the high opinion of a few friends, or even (as happened to me years ago) losing a friend to stay loyal to your children… is totally worth it.
If loyalty is, and always has been, perceived as obsolete, why do we continue to praise it? Because loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. Without loyalty there can be no love. Without loyalty there can be no family. Without loyalty there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And without those things, there can be no society.
I can’t imagine how you are hurting…
I wish it were me instead of you…
If only I could take your pain…
What could we do?
What could we say?
REORDER YOUR LOVES