Friday, May 18, 2018

Your Child Is An Adult, Now What?

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As a mother of five, I have struggled at times to parent them the way I thought it should be done.  Children do not come with instruction manuals, so it is very much trial and error.  You can listen to other people giving you advice, you can do what your mother or grandmother did, you can read “How To” books, watch webinars, listen to parenting podcasts, you can even do what you see on television and in the movies.  Nevertheless, how do you KNOW what is right?  And not just right, but right for YOU and YOUR children. There is no scientific or mathematical formula to follow.  You have to do what you think is best.  Through common sense (I am learning that all sense isn’t common) and prayer, you are virtually hoping for and praying for the best outcome! It is actually like you are rolling the dice and hoping that you don’t crap out. 

While my children were young my parenting and discipline style was pretty much, one size fits all. What went for one child, went for all of them. (Of Course, in hindsight ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!) That is until the last child. By the time I had my fifth child, I was tired and was way more lax and casual as a parent. I was still disciplining, but not as strict as with the previous four children. My four older children would even comment on how the things the youngest got away with, they could NEVER have gotten away with. Hell, I was tired by then! Raising five children is no small feat. And doing it as a single mom was even harder. I was so glad when they ALL became adults!

I foolishly thought I was done! Yes! They are grown and I am done with this crap…Not!
Though there may be a shift, parenting NEVER stops.  As long as they live, they will always be your children and you will always be their parent.  Now, as a mother of five grown young adults, I have to consciously shift and change my philosophy and my parenting methods.  At a certain age, what you are doing with your children becomes less parenting and more mentoring. I am no longer training up a child or inspiring and molding a teenager.  I am not instructing an adolescent.  That time has come and gone.  I am now mentoring adults.  As they have changed, I have changed.  As they have grown, I have grown.  It is no longer about mama bear protecting her bear cubs.  It has now become more of tactfully sharing ideas, hints, and tips. I realized that I had to change my way of thinking and my approach. Three of my adult children have children of their own. This is tricky. I had to remember that those are not my children and to back up and let their parents BE parents. I had to remember how mad I got when ANYBODY, even my mother and father, tried to tell me what to do with my children. I had to back up and pray that I instilled in them the right foundation so that they could parent their own children in a nurturing, effective, and productive way.
Before you do anything, change must first happen in your mind.  You must make a conscious decision to approach your child or children as adults.  You can no longer demand or tell them what they can or cannot do.  I think too often as parents we do not grow, we do not shift, we do not change.  As a result, we have young adults who we are enabling, young adults who we are smothering, young adults who we are damaging, and young adults who are yearning to be set free from the tyranny that is our claustrophobic parenting. 

When we, as parents, do not shift or change, WE become the enemy. We become the oppressor. We become the enabler. We are the ones holding that child back. A parent afraid to let go holds them captive.  YES, I said AFRAID.  We as parents are afraid to accept the grown-up version of what we raised and cultivated.  We are afraid that without their need of us, we lack viability or purpose. We spend so much of our time as Johnny, Susan and Mary’s parent that once they grow up, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We try to hold on, hence holding them captive, until they are forced to rebel and push us away. We must know when and how to let go. We have to be so secure in what we taught them that we can safely back off and let them flourish. Your conversations with them should change. I am still very much needed in their lives but I had to let go in order for them to grab on. Instead of telling them what to do and how to live, I have become more of a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. I let them talk and I listen. I offer small tips and advice when asked and even then I temper what I say and how I say it. I now get phone calls about adult life things. I get calls like My meatloaf was dry, what should I put in it? Or, I have two job offers which one do you think I should take? Or, I am thinking about trading in my car and upgrading, can you help me work out my budget? Or, I’m going to Vegas for the weekend can you watch your grandson…… well, let’s just pump the brakes on that last question!

Our children still need us but in a different capacity.  They no longer need a mother to kiss their boo-boos, fight their battles for them, and champion their causes for them. They need a Friend, an Advisor, a Trainer, a Mentor and a Confidant. They are no longer children; they are adults dealing with real adult issues.  We can no longer treat them as our babies.  They have grown and so should we. This is a new aspect of life. It will not always be easy. There will definitely be times when you want to jump in and correct what you think is wrong but please restrain yourself! I am learning DAILY that it is not about me. I am learning to adapt to my babies being grown-ups. I must admit it is fun and interesting and sometimes frustrating and there is NEVER a dull moment with this bunch but I am living, learning, and loving it!


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