Being a 50-something year old parent means that some of us have adult children. I think one of the biggest misconceptions that exists is the assumption that once your child becomes an adult, your concern or worry for their welfare diminishes. Not so.
Often parenting adult children is harder then when they are younger. Ha! I know that many young parents will read this and laugh hysterically. Honestly: burping babies, changing diapers and teething are easier. Why, you ask? When our kids are young, it is easy to help and protect them. We are in control of where they go and, for the most part, who they interact with. Protecting them is straightforward.
When they become adults, and begin encountering adult issues, the dynamics change. Protecting them all the time is no longer possible – instead, we must try to protect only through advice. Having said that, it is often when a situation has already presented itself that we are called upon for advice. At this point in their lives there is no way we can always prevent the situation from happening.
My husband and I have experienced a multitude of kid issues as our children grew up, from friendship challenges to broken hearts, most requiring time and patience to heal and an opportunity to grow. But that stuff, I am discovering, was not the real challenge… it’s the adult stuff.
This week our daughter faced a tough week comprised of emotions from elation, shock, sadness, confusion and nervousness. The worst feeling as a parent is knowing there is nothing you can do for your child when they are an adult, except to provide advice. At some point, they must “adult” and tackle issues head on.
I’ve noticed that with our daughter worldly dilemmas have presented themselves to her early in her life – much sooner then the average person. This may be a good thing for her, but at the same time to be so young and having to confront adult decisions is not always easy.
This week, all family members were in protective mode, as that is what we do when one of us is making a big decision or emotionally confused. We advised and we guided, we felt her feelings and we tried to help as best we could. The rest is ultimately up to her. In the end, we must trust in this incredible young person we raised, who we taught right from wrong, to make the best choice.
Gone are the days of deciding which friend to have over for a play date. It’s real time and real life. But as my husband said to me this morning, “she’s still our little girl”. He’s right…and that is the hard part.