On Being a Shelf-Parent

My wise friend, Carol, once counseled —  when your child becomes an adult, you must “stay on the shelf”.  What she meant was we parents need to grant space for our 20 and 30 something sons and daughters to plot their own path.  We must resist the urge to butt in, lend advice, aggressively check in.  

We are now cheerleaders. Nodding. Affirming. Saying things like, “I just know you’ll figure this out.” And “What do you think?”  

Staying on the shelf means not over-texting and not freaking out when your texts are not responded to immediately. It means living your own life to its fullest and not thinking about what __ is doing right now.  It means taking your kids off the Worry List while of course keeping them on the Daily Prayer List.   Letting God take care of them.

Shelf-Life has its perks though.  

Recently I spent 3 days with Alex in Miami.  We walked on the beach, ate amazing food, played tennis, watched movies.  This was Mother-Daughter time that she requested during her week off between jobs. Who cared that it rained one day or that Alex got sunburned to the point of actual pain?  Our Miami girls-getaway is now etched in the book of treasured memories.

And I think (can’t be sure of this) I may have caught sight of a picture of Alex and me on the beach on the face of her iphone —  the prominent picture you see first when looking at your phone.

It’s true that you’re “always a parent”.   And it’s also true that it’s hard (for me) not to jump off that shelf and glom onto my kids.  

But then I have Miami memories to glue me down.  And anticipation of who-knows-what adventures to come with my grown kids and my amazing daughter in law!

All while I seek my own adventures and peer down occasionally from my Shelf.

Today’s Takeaway –

– Get rid of the Worry List.  It will give you wrinkles.

– While on the shelf, find your fun.  (Joy is taking up a Mah Jong.  We are both discovering Pickleball.) And resist the urge to check your phone to see if your kids have texted.  Chances are, they have not!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

4 thoughts on “On Being a Shelf-Parent

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