Parenting an Adult Child

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Ah…..the awesome wonderment of parenting: cuddle time with the new baby in the hush of the morning; washing cookie dough from pudgy four-year old hands; feeling like SuperMama because one band-aid and kiss healed the latest boo-boo… Then there’s the sideways looks after being told to clean the kitchen; rolled eyes when I’m trying to impart wisdom upon my teen…Good Times.

I have 4 children and my least favorite age group is the teen years. But it’s not what you think: I don’t have Monster Teens…I love my children. But I feel furthest from them when they’re teens. They’re so much more secretive and would rather spend hours alone than with the family. I want so much to know what they’re thinking and to bond with them. Yet, it seems to be Mission Impossible to connect with them because they’ve already got one foot out the door.

When my eldest left home, we had a lot going on. We had just moved here from overseas and were living with my mother. We weren’t settled ourselves when this monumental moment of saying, “Good-bye, High School Kid” and “Hello, College-Kid” came upon us. By the time the dust really settled, Elder Nerd nearly finished with her first year in college. It was hard letting her go…not just the physical part of not having her around, but knowing she’s out there…you, know…in THE WORLD.

While my kids are young and at home, I watch them like a hawk. I’m aware of mood and behavioral changes. It’s easier to connect when you live under the same roof. But when one of the fledglings leaves the nest, it’s a lot harder to stay connected, let alone feel connected. I realized I was entering territory that I had never been in before: having an adult child. How do you parent an adult child??

I refuse to be the mother who micromanages her children’s lives, but relinquishing all control over to my daughter for her own life is one of the hardest things I’ve faced as a parent. I know that I am not finished learning what I need to about being the parent of an adult child, but here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.
  • They’ll let you know somehow that they need you: via letter, text, phone call.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you step in.
  • They won’t tell you every little detail of what’s going on in their lives, so appreciate the bits you get.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.
  • They’ll miss home and appreciate you better as a guiding parent when they’ve been away for awhile.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.
  • They’re going to learn their own life lessons as they carve their way through the life they’re choosing for themselves.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.
  • They’re going to struggle, but don’t want you to step in.

Now, I understand that the way I parent my first adult child may not be what my second, third, or fourth child needs from me. I guess I’ll have to go with the flow, keep an open mind, and do what I’ve been doing all along…parent them the best way I can with what I’ve got.

Writer 

CJ Heath

 

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