When new parents bring that precious little bundle home from the hospital, it is doubtful that they are considering the implications that a lifetime of parenting will bring. Although most kids only live with their parents for the first couple of decades of life, the parenting job is never really finished entirely. Adult parenting can bring with it a whole host of other issues, and a need to see your relationship with your kids in an entirely new light. The truth is that most people never outgrow the need for their parents, and adult parenting reflects that need with new challenges and responsibilities from both sides of the relationship.
Young Adult Parenting
Here it is – your son has made it through the teen years and college, and is ready to strike out on his own in the world. But guess what? He is undoubtedly still going to need Mom and Dad to lend a helping hand in a variety of ways. What he won’t be needing or wanting is your unsolicited advice or lectures on how he should lead his life at this point in time. It is important at this time that adult parenting involves support and meeting whatever needs arise, while letting your adult child forge his own way and, yes, make his own mistakes. The good news is that this is a prime opportunity for you to form a close bond with your son or daughter while learning to let go in other ways.
The Next Ten Years
As your daughter spends a few years in the work place, and possibly gets married and begins her family, a whole new set of challenges and opportunities will arise. You will be faced with the reality of in-laws and the fact that you are now a grandparent. This is the time when adult parenting can include offers to help with practical needs like babysitting, and encouragement in the parenting realm without lecturing about the proper way to raise kids. It is important to respect the rules of your daughter’s household at this point, since she is probably trying to create the best environment for raising her children. This is also the time when you can enjoy those grandbabies to the fullest, without the duty and obligation that parenting can bring.
It is interesting to observe how adult parenting can become about your kids parenting you as they see you get on in years. All of a sudden the tables might be turned on unwanted advice, and your children begin to decide the best lifestyle for you in your senior years. It is important to keep in mind that your children are acting out of concern, just as you did with them in their younger years. It is also necessary for you to maintain your independence, and you can gently let your kids know how important that is to you. The middle years of adulthood can be an unsettling time for many, so your kids may need a sounding board during this time as well.
It is true that once you are a parent, you are always a parent, no matter how old your kids are. Adult parenting can bring a whole new host of challenges to the parent-child relationship, but it can also bring a multitude of opportunities to expand that relationship to make it richer and deeper. While your children may never thank you sufficiently for all that you have done for them, they may get to the middle years of adulthood with a new appreciation of the sacrifices that parents are called to make for their kids. You will gain the satisfaction of seeing them learn the same lessons that you had to learn in your younger adult years. The relationships that are built in adult parenting can be rich and rewarding.