This is a process for me…
Parenting our adult children is one of the most difficult parts of parenting and yet it’s the least discussed. Many of us are just now facing these life transitions. My kids’ tantrums, meltdowns, and just plain shit-show behaviors, were difficult. But there were a lot of resources to help out and I would frequently see my parenting friends at games, school functions, etc. and we could talk about how we were managing these situations. That’s not happening anymore.
For me, the diaper-changing, driving them around, watching sports events are over. But how the freak do we take it to the next step? I’ve been thinking about the upcoming stages for my kids when they are in their 20s and then in their 30s:
Their 20s. Finishing college (or attending other post-secondary institutions), applying to/attending graduate school for an advanced degree, looking for jobs, dating, exploring identity, defining career and life success.
Their 30s. Career advancements, relationship changes (longer-term dating, marriage, living with a partner), travel, saving for/buying a home, starting a family.
These are big life shifts in short spans of time for them and just as we navigated (sometimes with big missteps) so will they.
I’ve been making a list of things that I want to pay attention to and I’ll write about them periodically, but I have two for today: (1) respecting differences; and (2) sharing wisdom without being a pain in the a**.
The conflicts I had with my kids when they were younger surrounded the ways I thought they should do things. THAT. IS. NOT. going to be a highly successful topic with my 20-somethings. For sure, we can and should give our opinions on topics. They may not respect this right now, but we do have more experience and have seen way more of life. So, our opinions are valid.
However, I recognize that it really is a time to let go of those differences. To accept—and celebrate—the uniqueness of my children. We are not going to always agree with their life choices, but as their independence grows, I want to find the joy in connecting without conflict.
Finding a way to share wisdom is a tough one. Each of my children have different temperaments. Which means that they each respond to my suggestions in different ways and also depending on what is happening in their lives at that moment. I notice that if they sense criticism, they sometimes shut down and just don’t hear me. When they were younger I could make sure they heard me because they lived with me. It is not so easy when they are on their own.
There are many layers of complexity in this stage of life, and resources are few and far between. So, I think we should stick together. Share our crazy stories about how to enter this new stage of parenting. I’m going to need help!