On Parenting Adult Children

28 May

Being a parent is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, albeit challenging experiences I have ever had.

Completely unprepared was I to understand the enormity of this challenge but I jumped in joyfully and whole heartedly.

Peeling away layers of the old me, I learnt what patience, love and sacrifice really meant. Joy and laughter intermingled with worry and stress can best describe the years that followed. Raising them, Teaching them- what to do, what not to do, Setting limits, Being responsible for their physical and emotional health and Being there for guidance filled our home with lots of love, and lots of commotion.

Just as I felt I had hit the sweet spot of parental involvement, I needed to stretch my self to relearn the role of parenting my adult children.

I needed to practice the art of Letting Go.

Years of Hands On Parenting makes this such a difficult task.

Although I do believe in the wisdom behind the need to restructure my relationship with the kids, yet, on a day to day basis I see myself struggling with –

  • Letting go of worrying about their well being – Have they eaten health?       Slept enough? Are their jobs too stressful? Are their friends helpful and a good influence on them?
  • Letting go of giving them unsolicited advice, warning them of perceived stumbling blocks or influencing their decisions based on my experiences
  • Letting go of the urge to jump in and try to fix their problems

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that parenting adult kids requires a different skill set from what I’ve been practicing all these years.

As I watch my kids interact with me I realize that my role has shifted to a relationship based on lesser dependency and more mutual respect.

My hands – on days are done, and now I need to allow them to face the world with confidence and determination without feeling smothered by my trying to manage their life.

Many readers would have walked this road before, and have valuable insights to share.

These are the thoughts that come to my mind when I think of how each of us can maintain a connected and trusting relationship with our adult children

  • Advice should be dispensed only when asked for. Expect at least part of it to be ignored and remember not to consider it an insult or a reflection of your advice.
  • Restraint is a virtue that’s much required now especially when it comes to giving your views on their relationships or career choices. Does that mean you ignore the wisdom of your years and not give your opinion? Not exactly …. But you need to know, how and when to say things respectfully and tactfully and yes don’t forget to couch it diplomatically.
  • For most times, opinions are best kept to yourself. Trust their capacity to choose well and survive the not very wise choices.

The exception to this would be if you saw something that could potentially harm them, to which they seemed to be blind, then, at the risk of being interfering you should speak up.

  • Listen to them and Give them emotional support which will help them boost their self confidence;
  • Allow their problem solving muscles to develop and trust in their capacity to make wise decisions
  • Bear witness to their ability to take responsibility of their lives.
  • Assure them that there will always be oodles of love and support when they choose to reach out.

For our adult children we are their anchor, their sounding board and a safe haven.

Another dilemma I face while I think of letting go are the questions that pop up in my head like – is it too early to let go? Are they ready to navigate through the ebb and flow of life?

Guess I’ll know that only if I allow them to find their true potential without my mama bear instincts getting the better of me.

The large empty space that gets created in my days after I have given up my need to keep tabs on them, I would need to fill with things that will bring joy and purpose to my life. Not easy, but I’ll figure that with time.

For now, I will take a cue from the words of Kahlil Gibran……

You are the bows from which your children

As living arrows are sent forth

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite

And he bends you with his might

That his arrows might go swift and far

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness

For even as he loves the arrow that flies

So he loves also the bow that’s stable.



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