I have had the great fortune of spending time with both of my adult offspring, as I now affectionately call them, over the past months. It dawned on me to write this blog about how much these relationships mean to me and to ask readers to write in and share some of your experiences relative to the evolving nature of your roles as parents with your adult kids.
I share with my son (24 years old) and my daughter (20 years old) a great deal of communication, both in frequency and depth. I appreciate and value our talks so much and cannot imagine my life without being close to both of my adult kids.
We discuss relationship issues – theirs and mine. We discuss academic and work concerns and the new aspects of our lives in this regard (all three of us have recently moved to new cities and are in the process of settling in). We encourage each other to grow and seek greater self-awareness as the years progress. We tackle issues that arise between us and with others in our lives. Often, because they know me so well, my son and daughter offer suggestions and insight that give me pause – and help me grow. It is through our continued communication that we keep our relationships strong and rich.
As a parent who was very involved in my kids’ daily lives when they were living at home (perhaps too protective at times, but my defense is that they grew up primarily in New Orleans where one had to be very aware of the potential for crime and violence, as well as all the wonderful aspects of the culturally rich city), I am still having to reign in my concern for their safety at times. As a highly involved parent, I also find it difficult not to give my opinions on what I think will help them in any area of their lives. I am working on keeping my opinions to myself when talking with my son and daughter – unless they solicit them. When they read this, they will laugh and opine that I really have a lot of room to improve in this regard!
I know parents who have shared that they have strained or fairly non-existent relationships with their adult children and it saddens me. I read an article in Psychology Today some years back that I cannot recall the title of or the author, but the basic gist was that the author believed it is the parent’s obligation primarily to create a close relationship with their adult children, not vice versa. The author noted that many parents of adult children still try to control the young adults and cannot seem to accept that they are bound to do things differently than the parent may think is wise – the parent may be stuck in his or her habits and beliefs and not open to their children’s new ways and values. But, to express dissatisfaction or criticize the offspring is likely to cause them to push away from the parents. The author advised readers to work on listening to their adult children and not trying to get them to do what the parent thinks is best. I agree with this advice, though as I stated above, I am still working on it and will probably always be in process of tempering my opinions (some of that is personality, too).
My goal is to work on leveling out my relationships with both my son and daughter so that these relationships can grow into egalitarian, adult relationships. Yes, I will always be their mom, but they are both incredibly capable, insightful, kind, and caring young adults who deserve my respect and I want to act in ways that let them feel how much I admire them, as well as how much I love them.
So … here is to lifelong learning and personal growth!! Good luck to us all.
Please email me with any experiences you want to share and I will incorporate them in future blogs with your permission.