Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More on Parenting Adult Children

Susan commented on my post of November 15 on Parenting Kidults
where I commented, “Boy, in my opinion, there’s nothing harder than parenting adult children!”

She says,
“Don't tell me that today! NOOOO! After a hard weekend with a preteen, a teen, and 84 yr old mom, this is not what I wanted to hear... we were just having fond fantasies of our empty nest.”
I explained a little more of my thoughts yesterday, but let me clarify. It’s true that teens and pre-teens can be exhausting and exasperating and even infuriating. Their demands seem to go on and on, and on… It’s easy to have fantasies of the empty nest. But we have 18 years to learn how to deal with our kids. It’s gradual. We grow as they grow and we change as they change.

Then one day, they’re grown up. The adult years come on much more quickly. If our kids go to college, we have four years max. Many want their independence even sooner. If they move into the job market, the transition comes even faster. That’s a steep learning curve, especially for moms who have devoted their lives to parenting. To meeting the needs and shaping the values of their offspring. And suddenly, her job is done.

The other difference is that when our children are young, we have some degree of control if we choose to exercise it. When they’re little, we can physically pick them up and move them. When they’re older we can ground them, assign extra tasks, or otherwise manage to persuade them to do what we think is important. I know. Many parents feel impotent and don’t exercise their authority. But they have it if they’ll exercise it consistently through the years.

However, when the kids become adults, we have only the power of relationship. If we haven’t built it in the prior 18 years, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to develop it now. And while our pre-adult years have been devoted to providing endless input that will help the kids become all God created them to be, the transition to adult influence comes rather suddenly.

That’s the hard part for me. Keeping my mouth shut. Going against my “mom” nature. Disciplining myself to not fix everything. Praying rather than talking. Allowing him to make his own decisions, whether it would be my choice or not. Whether I agree or not. Allowing him to reap the consequences of his decisions. Of course, a good parent will do some of that all along the way. But now, it’s essential to maintain “hands off.” The mom in me hates that. And loves the results.

So Susan, have faith. Enjoy the process. You’ll blink twice and the kids will be gone. The nest will be empty for a mighty long time—unless Mom moves in.


2 comment(s):

Pat, thank you for this. I appreciate the personal response!! And I can only imagine how disoriented and imbalanced I will feel when I'm not so involved in every aspect of my kids' lives. It sounds like you've don a tremendous job with yours.

And: Mom has already moved in. We are a live-in sandwich!

By Anonymous Susan, at 9:27 PM  

And: Mom has already moved in. We are a live-in sandwich!

Susan, you're allowed to go to your car and scream every now and then when you feel smooshed. I'll bet you have some stories to tell!

By Blogger Pat, at 9:55 PM  

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