Parenting: When they are grown up
This is post is from ninecentgirl. Please check out the blog and enjoy this post.
A million years ago, when I was pregnant, I kept a stack of baby books piled on my night stand and those parenting guides continued as a mainstay of my reading for many years afterwards. But now, now that all live long miles away in their own places, advancing in their chosen careers, essentially grown, I am stepping into new territory, that of a parent of grown kids, all without a manual to be found. Upon reflection, I know the basics must be the same as those that guided me for decades. So, here, I offer my best advice. Nothing earth shattering, perhaps nothing you haven’t read before, but hopefully suggestions that bring an ease in your relationships with some pretty amazing young adults, your own grown kids!
- Maintain unconditional love. As hard as this was when your babies kept you up awake long past your bedtime, and you thought you would never again feel normalcy, adult kids can test us some more! But equally true is that as much as those little swaddled bundles needed you then, your grown kids still need you now too. The world is not the easiest of places, and your kids, at any age, need to know there is someone that will show them nonstop love through all the upheavals, mishaps and changes life throws their way. If not you, then who, right?
- Listen to them. Remember listening to their little cat stories or how they wanted to play in the NBA or their college angst break-up stories? Grown kids have stories too… and if they are still willing to share them with you, be available to listen. Not to advise or weigh in necessarily, but to listen with all your attention. Their joys and their scrapes will inform you more about who they are than anything else, so listen and not only will you always know your kids, but you will feel pride at how they are untangling life’s lessons.
- Visit your grown kid’s world. Even if you live within a close proximity, you may not know them as they are in the world. But seeing their neighborhoods, their neighbors, their routine is especially true if your kids live clear across the country. How do they order a sandwich from their favorite deli? How do they greet their co-workers? Walk with them through a day, in effect, walk in their shoes and learn how the world views them. Your daughter may be managing far more than she lets on or your son might be working harder than anyone else in his office. Seeing our kids’ strengths helps us let go a bit, which is what all kids are waiting for, and yet many parents struggle to accomplish.
- Play with your grown kids. Remember how you couldn’t wait until little Suzie was old enough to kick a ball or young Mac could hike to the top on his own? Well, now that they are grown up, running or singing, doing, just like you encouraged them to do for all those years. Are you sitting nearby on a blanket, living as a pedestrian? Unless life has altered what you can or cannot do physically, (and if it has I encourage you to find other avenues of play) then be active with your children. And I don’t just mean house painting, but some activity that you both loved then and still love now. Walking is the simplest activity, and can be done anywhere, by most of us. At the very least, invite your kids to take a walk, just to see what’s new with the world around you, and laugh along the way.
- Continue to grow yourself. Yes, be a role model for your kids. Just as they watched your every move when they were younger, and it seemed somewhat comical at first when you saw your own grumpy expression on their little unlined face, or the way they clumsily ran the bases just like you did, your grown adults will face life as you do, with a brave face or waiting in the shadows. I actually learned this from watching my parents and relatives march right into their 70’s and 80’s and never look back… Some lucky few are still marching, planning trips and new learning instead of living in sorrow and regret.
Lucky for me, I learned parenting from those lucky few… and if genetics are any indicator, I will continue in their joyful footsteps. Manual or not, I’m letting their example guide me, in parenting my grown kids and so far so good!