I always thought I’d raise my children to adulthood and then they would be independent and live happily ever after. Seriously, I got married at 23 so what did I know?!
What I have learned is that there is no magic number at which an adult child finds his/her way. Each child is unique and reaches independence on a different timeline. (It’s not that I was so mature at 28 or even 30, but I had a husband, an in-house therapist, to vent to.)
Now I welcome the fact that my 2 adult children come to me with their problems, that they care what I think about anything! I am blessed with 2 caring souls who value their mom’s opinion and advice (well, sometimes!) They probably think that venting to me is better than keeping inside whatever is upsetting them. Why feel like crap when you can lay it off on your mother? You get off the phone feeling so much better. Who cares that your mom wants to walk into oncoming traffic!
I am slowly learning that I can no longer jump into action mode, the way I could when problems were simpler to solve. These issues are beyond my expertise. When a daughter is looking for a new job, I no longer know people who can set up interviews — as I did when my kids were fresh out of college. I can’t get a bad boss off their backs or find new apartments. My usefulness is limited, as is my checkbook!
I must remind myself that my daughters are young women. They will learn by stumbling, getting hurt, being disappointed, not having everything they want or aspire to. My job in raising them, in giving them a foundation from which to grow, is done. It’s like sowing seeds in the ground, watering them, weeding them, and allowing them to grow. Every now and then, they may need a gentle touch, a little extra care, but for the most part, if I’ve done the job right, I need to let them reach for their dreams without me constantly being in their faces. (I will reread that last sentence and maybe commit it to memory!)
My generation has been so involved with their children’s lives that when they grow up, it is hard to put on the brakes. We want what is best for them; we want to see them happy, laughing, telling us good news Duh! But our role in this phase of life is to be a sounding board, to be the person they come to for relief from whatever is burdening them.
But being a sounding board is tricky — the issues are bigger than someone not wanting to sit with them at the lunch table! Recently one of my adult children needed to talk. She is adapting to a new life style and adjusting to many bumps along the way. She needed to pour it all out of her, even though all I could offer was a sympathetic ear — something I will make time for, no matter what else is going on in my life. Till the day I die!
For we are Parents for Life!
And I for one treasure this role more than any other! My ear is ready whenever the call comes!
With a glass of wine near by.
. Parenting an adult child is drastically different than when our kids were little. Don’t expect to be Supermom anymore, swooping in to save the day.
,Being a good listener and hugger may be the most important requirements for our adult children. Never underestimate how much that can help when they call.
Enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay & Joy