“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.”