Change the World: Parenting Adult Children Can do That!

Parents attempt connection  with their adult children out of love and devotion and sometimes out of loneliness and loss.

Occasionally parents connect to adult children because of previous shortcomings, failure, shame, and hurt. But, in all these cases, parents connecting to their adult children creates a world that is a more authentic and safer place to grow for both the parent and the child.

Regardless of motive: connection heals.

Parents aim for mutually beneficial relationships for themselves and their adult children. Don’t we all desire unity in our homes? If that is true of us, can we believe it is true of all Americans? 

Through our attempts to establish relationships of love and connections between parents and their adult children, we must believe that we can unify all of America starting with just one strategic home: our own. The unity in our home spreads to our church.

The authenticity of our church represents many unified families of adult children and parents. Then, that connected church influences our authentic connected community. Our vulnerable and open community influences our transformative city and, before you know it, we have a wave of unity, connectedness, and authenticity, instead of alienation, separation, and division.

Today we hear from both political parties how America remains a nation divided. They attribute our problems of poverty, racism, abuse, sex trafficking, and suicide to this deviousness. But what if we as Moms of Adult Children, not a political party, own the power to change that?

 We need not identify ourselves as identical to our adult children. 

As a matter of fact, we must embrace the diversity of our culture; we need our own ideas, our own opinions. Our adult children must create their own philosophies and theories. How will society improve without new ideas and creativity? 

However, we sincerely need the unity of our love, our acceptance, our belonging. I truly believe that culture begins in our homes, spreads out like a wave of influence as families become more unified. This wave grows in volume and influence and soon several waves connect, as they spread across the state and the nation. 

You see, adult children desire to be reconnected to their families. Families desire to be connected to other families. Communities long to connect to other communities. We were created to belong in community.

Reach out. Learn to communicate in ways that speak care and candor, love and truth. Learn to live in the hard of living with the hope of living. 

Don’t be afraid to tell your adult children: ” You belong to me. You are not me, I don’t want you to be me. I see you for who you are, and I am proud of you.” 

Tell your adult children, “you be you, while you allow me to be me. And, while we are being ourselves—let us truly learn LISTEN to each other. Let’s get to know each other. We might have known each other as mother and child… but let me hear your adult voice.” 

My name is Johnnie Seago and this is my mission:  I want to change the world, by connecting one family of adult children at a time. Whose job is it to connect the child to the parent?

It is MY job—I am the mom and I am out to change the world.

What are your thoughts on this world changing goal?

Upcoming articles in the series:

Part Two:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of divorce and poverty

Part Three:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of body image, abuse, and abortion

Part Four:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of addiction, anxiety, and depression

Part Five:

The world: How far can the revolution go?

RITUALS for GROWTH

Families need rituals to ensure stability and security.

Remember when your kids cried in the night, but tucking them in nice and tight sent the monsters running from the room?

Remember how a warm cup of milk and a band-aid made bleeding stop and boo-boos heal instantly?

Remember when you heard the catch in her voice stop the avalanche of tears in her throat and she decided to stay at summer camp just because you said you would come get her?

Remember how you drove all the way across town to take back the baby doll to your sister’s house so your baby girl would stay at the sleep-over?

These are the memories of our rituals…these are rituals that made the memories.




We never outgrow rituals. 

After I married, we gathered at my Dad’s house every Friday night to grill steaks, debate politics and religion, and catch up. For ten years we never missed Friday night if we were in town. When I was in the throws of terrible moral decisions in my life, I called my Dad and said, “Hey Dad, I am gonna pass on steaks tonight. The kids and I are exhausted so we are gonna stay home.” He didn’t buy it. 

“Johnnie, there are only a few reasons you would miss Friday night and none of them are good. I’ll see you at six.” 

He wasn’t wrong. I brought dessert. 

It’s worth all the trouble to get your brood together to look each other in the eye and say, “I see you. I know you. I love you.”

Rituals might not be all that is needed to save our life.

But they might keep our children, adult or younger, on the path. Rituals make us feel seen. Rituals make us feel known. Rituals make us feel loved. What could be better?

What are the rituals you keep or could build in your adult children to keep them on the path of stability and wholeness? 

Why is it hard to parent Adult Children?

“I guess I thought by now I would be finished parenting.”

“When I went off to college I was on my own. My parents never bailed me out financially or socially–why do I think I need to do that with my adult children?”

“Am I helicoptering him even though he is 21?”

“I expected to be less needed when they married–but I didn’t expect to be kicked aside!”

One of the main reasons parenting of adult children is difficult is because this journey is full of unknowns and different ways to approach situations. When we brought them home from the hospital we had options: breast or bottle feeding? cloth or disposable diapers? sleeping in bed with us or crib? Since we knew the QUESTIONS, we knew we could come up with different answers based on our preferences. Not so with parenting adults!

One mom recently told me, “I never expected to have to train my daughter in how to love her child. I thought that came naturally. Now, I am trying to teach her behaviors that are foreign to her for some reason; and these lessons are all foreign to me because I never had to learn this.”

Another parent asked me, “What do I do when my son has completely different memories of his childhood than I do? I am not calling him a liar but I cannot believe I did some of the things he is now accusing me of doing.”

In anguish a mom of a grieving son told me, “I just lost a granddaughter, but my son lost his little girl. How can I help him through that? I have never lost anyone myself before now. But, it kills me to see him suffer like this.”

These were not even ideas on our radar about living with our adult children–we couldn’t anticipate the answers because we couldn’t anticipate the questions.

At an information conference an educator told me, “We have to train our students to use technology that has not been invented for jobs that have yet to be created.”

It’s not just us…it’s the world we live in.

In order to maintain relationships with our adult children we must LEARN TO LEARN. We must work to continually communicate our respect and admiration for them. We must endeavor to maintain open lines of affection, even when we are miles and weeks apart.

New day, new challenge. But we have more information at our fingertips than our parents did. We have more ways to communicate than ever before. Often, we must communicate, “I have no idea what you are going through. I have never been through that. But I believe in you and I will walk this with you.”

Supporting someone we love in a journey we have never traveled might seem scary. It IS hard to parent adult children–but that’s why we do it. My dad always told me, “If this job was easier, someone less competent would do it.”

What are the hardest tasks in parenting your adult children right now? I would love to hear from you.

Setting Boundaries: Money

When is it right to give my Adult Children money?

Is it ALWAYS wrong to pay their rent?

Should I pay for a divorce to help get them out of a bad situation?

When will I know I have given too much to my Adult Children?

What if giving gifts is their love language? Then shouldn’t I give money to my Adult Children?

 Why would you give money to your Adult Children? 


Everybody needs help from time to time. I remember when we were adopting two of our children. The attorney’s fees and expenses were adding up. As my stress level increased the bank balance decreased. One day my dad came to visit and left a “welcome to the family” gift for my kids. I was in my mid-30s and had been married for more than a decade. I wasn’t reckless with cash and my husband had a good job–but what a nice surprise.

Life happens. Sometimes our adult children have a life or health challenge. They can’t work and need help with rent, groceries, necessities. How would you feel about helping out?

Or maybe they need help with a new project or venture. Several of our adult children own their own businesses and getting off the ground can be expensive. That seems more of an investment than a hand out, right?

What are some of the limits you have on giving your adult children money? Never? Only for education or business ventures? Would you help with the down payment on a house? Or do you do it like a “dividend pay out: If we have extra we give it to the kids?

Many of our Adult Children have a great education. They also experienced more opportunity than has ever been possible for young adults before in America. Most of us, as parents, made sure that they were smothered in possibilities we never had.

The result: too often our AC now believe that they cannot move forward unless they have ALL the opportunities, education, possibilities to take on a new venture.  They refuse to take risks out of fear of failure or perfectionism.  Their lack of initiative might put them in a financial bind and they end up needing us to bail them out–with cash! 

We have said YES! to some of the requests for financial help with our kids. As I think of those times I am so glad we said yes. The benefits far out weigh the cash expense.

And there have been those times we did not hesitate to say “no, not this time.” I have no regrets about those times either. If we had given the requested help I believe that we would have resented it and felt used.

It takes lots of wisdom and discernment to know where to set the boundary in giving money to our adult children.

There don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about when to say “yes” and when to say “no!” to our kids about money. But communication rules do dictate that every family needs to have rules and guidelines about loaning, giving, forwarding money to our adult children.

What are your family’s house rules concerning money? I would love to hear from you!

Balance: A Five Minute Blog

I wrote this during the holiday when Kate Motaung challenged our little writers group to write five minutes on BALANCE…

I sat listening to the speaker thinking, “If only that were really possible!” 
As with most women’s talks during Christmas, this Christmas dinner speaker admonished all the mommies in the room to, “Relax! Let the shopping and cooking go and focus on Jesus!” With five kiddos in my house that was such a joke! I wanted that peace and meditation but I knew it could NEVER happen. 

 

 


Fast forward 20 years, now the speaker at my women’s group is talking about, “Fill your days with loving activity for others.” Different group—different season—same challenge: FOCUS. Although most of my friends have grown children (this is not the same as empty nest!) they still complain of lack of time to spend in prayer and “Jesus focus.”

 
The problem is not our time: the problem is our focus. 

 


Back 20 years. I remember hearing that woman at that Christmas dinner, and seeing that, despite the fact that she had twins and lived on a farm, she found time to spend with Jesus. I didn’t know how He could answer, but I prayed that God would make it happen the next day.


Be careful what you pray for! 


The next day I only had 26 items on my “to do” list before 6 p.m. when we had to attend another Christmas party. After putting the third load of laundry in my washing machine I turned to run make the cookies to take to the party and… the door was locked. No joke. I banged on the door but… I had an OLD WASHER that sounded like a 747 was landing in the laundry room. The kids were upstairs doing their chores and … yep.

I was stuck.

 

My personality style would normally kick and claw my way out, but instead… I sat down on laundry piles numbered 4-10 and … laughed. REALLY. OUT LOUDLY.


God had locked me in my laundry room so I would pray. 
And I did.

This isn’t me nor what I looked like at all…but we need to give this give a laugh! Or an “amen.”


Cookies are nice. Kids need clothes. Everybody has to bathe. But JESUS is worth the time. 

Advent is over now, but in 2019 I am hoping He doesn’t have to lock me in the laundry to get my attention.

 

Two of my goals:

!. Focus on Jesus first thing in the morning–whether than means five minutes or 50 minutes.

2. Make my choices on what will please Him–and honor my husband and adult children.

What are some of your FOCUS goals for 2019? I would love to hear.

 

Setting Relationship Goals with your Adult Children

Do you set New Year’s goals?

Gonna lose weight?

Gonna earn more money?

Set a goal to improve your relationship with your adult children. Here are four simple tips: 

  • Setting relationship goals with our adult children is not a one size fits all proposition. The way I treat my eldest son is very different from the way I treat my youngest daughter. However, I can improve both relationships. I need to set goals to connect with both of them in 2019. Thinking of their love languages helps me connect uniquely with that adult child. 
    • We often speak our own love language to our adult children and can’t figure out why don’t feel loved. Be curious in knowing their love language. (See my previous blog posts on that topic explaining each love language and how to speak it to your adult child!)
    • As parents to adult children we leave the past in the past. Regardless of how rebellious they were as teens or the crazy antics they performed as adolescents–we approach them as adults now.
  • Time ALONE with our adult children pays big dividends in terms of insight and info. Although as teens they may have run from us, while pursuing other relationships, as they mature they want more time with us. And what do we do with the time? We listen–more curiosity needed. We remove the judgmental filters that cause us to think, “Well, that’s dumb. Why do you think that?” I often told my teen daughters, “You are not held accountable for what you DO NOT SAY!” I take my own advice often now.
  • Can you be interested in what they are interested in? Can you listen to them talking about what they are engaged with now? One of our daughters is in school so Ted and I are back in school. One son loves to talk about cars–so we listen about cars.  Building a relationship means building interest in their interest.
    • We tune in to their intellectual and emotional wavelength. We engage them in THEIR LIFE not ours. We must get to know THEM.  Recently someone gave me the great compliment, “You are a student of your kids.” Yep, I work at knowing them. 
  • Noah St. John suggests, we ask to improve the relationship with two questions, “On the scale of one to ten where do you see our relationship?” When the person answers anything less than 10 your next question is, “What can I do to make our relationship a 10?” Then LISTEN and take action on what your adult child suggests.

We CAN improve our relationship with our adult children. Like ALL goals this one will take a PLAN and WORK! But what is more important? As we all know, the most important things in life are not things at all. 

Happy New Year.

What are some goals you have for your relationship with your adult children this year? I would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments below!

No Pity-Parties

When we become sentimental and nostalgic, we move into a new realm of self-pity. AVOID THIS!

We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions. During this holiday season our attitudes can unify us and bring peace.  This series of posts work on putting more “happy” in our “happy holidays.”

 

Happiness begins with what we CANNOT ATTEND During the Holiday

a Pity-Party for one...

 

Why can’t it be the way it was?

Why did I spend so many years cooking and shopping and wrapping gifts to end up alone on Christmas?

How could they have forgotten me? 

Having spent 35 years as a parent, I have experienced a few SAD holidays. Some years the depression and sadness felt like a weighted blanket on my chest. My poor family endured  the years when my sadness turned to anger…and those I loved fell in the wake of that storm. 

 

Is depression real?  Absolutely.

Is sorrow engulfing? You bet. 

Can we make it through…I believe so. 

Through lots of prayers, counseling, talking, and BEING REAL I have learned I can admit when:

I AM SAD.

I AM NOT DEALING WELL WITH THIS CHANGE IN MY LIFE. 

 

 Years ago when I opened up and told a friend, “I give up. I can’t do Christmas this year. I am sad and over my head with grief and now I need to fulfill the kids’ expectations. I just can’t do it.” 

My sweet friend replied, “I thought you were trying to reduce the expectations you set for every one else?  Why are are showing them they can keep setting unreal expectations from you?” She paused and added, “That isn’t very good parenting, is it?” 

That little bit of sarcastic humor reminded me that I DID NOT have to pretend to be happy, but I was not ALLOWED to throw a pity-party either.

 That year I learned three tips on surviving the holiday without lying about my emotional state or throwing a pity-party.  

1. If someone asked “how are you?”  in a manner that meant, “I am trying to be polite on my way to the buffet,” I simply said, “fine.” This was not lying because from his perspective I was just fine. (Not bleeding on the carpet or about to stab anyone = Just fine, thank you.) However, when a dear friend asked me, “Is it hard this year?” I honestly stated, “Harder than I thought it would be.” Then I HONESTLY finished with a statement like, “But the sun will come out tomorrow!” or “There are PLENTY of things for me to be happy about, though.”

     2.  When we are sad, just like in yoga, we have to”set our intention” every morning.  During that dark holiday, before I got out of bed I set my mind to focus on some previous holiday that brought out a smile.  I looked through scrapbooks and old Facebook posts to find a year with merry and bright memories and that was my “intention” for the day.

3. I prayed. This sounds like a no-brainer but at first this activity felt like an aerobic exercise wearing heavy army boots. In the beginning I was just as mad at or disappointed with God as I was anyone else. I dreaded pouring my heart out to Him since I knew He knew better than I did exactly how I felt. And then, one day it happened: instead of repelled by the idea to divulge all my sorrow and self-pity, the prayer felt like– breathing.  I couldn’t stop myself and I realized I was not nearly as sorry as I had been only days before. 

During this time, I saw a counselor who continually guided me back to a path where I left self-pity behind.  Sure, some days were abominable and lonely, but together we devised ways for me to focus on the HAPPY of the holiday and the GOOD of good wishes. 

We may not be able to cancel the pity-party on our own–but we can refuse to send out invitations to everyone we meet.

Then we find there are other parties, lots of other parties, that are more fun to throw and to attend. 

Do you have ways of coping with sadness during the holidays?  I would love for you share your suggestions below.