One of my favorite roles is being a Mom. I’ve loved raising my two girls through each stage of childhood; but one day found myself the parent of two young adults! As I grow into this new season of parenting, I’m finding new things to enjoy. I’ve fumbled around a few times, as I did in the previous stages of parenting, but have gained new insights that I’d like to share.
Here are a few tips for parenting your adult children:
*Find the best form of communication with your adult children. When the girls went off to college, I sent a daily email. I wasn’t sure if they even read it! I’ve continued this ritual as they went off to seek jobs and graduate school. Recently, both girls were home and told me they miss when I skip a day or two of emails. I must say I was surprised – they have busy and full lives – but still love that daily check in from their Mom. Whether you text, chat on the phone, skype, or send letters/cards, stay in touch.
*Figure out what “hat” to wear. This is probably the thing I’ve struggled with the most – knowing when to listen, when to give advice, or when to hop in my car and go visit! When I first realized the girls would call me and not always want my parenting advice or “suggestions”, I asked them to let me know at the beginning of our talk what they needed from me. Learn to be direct and open with your adult children. Now that we’ve established this routine, I don’t immediately jump into the helper/fixer mode. I’ve learned to listen and wait.
*Be flexible. There have been changes in holidays, vacations, and other things through the years. Most recently, I opened Christmas gifts in March with my daughter and her fiancé. Every family will need to figure out what works best for them, but try not to be rigid or constantly reminding them “how it used to be”. This past Christmas, neither of my daughters were able to come home, so I celebrated with other family members. Change is your constant – learn to ebb and flow with your present circumstances and everyone will be happier!
*Have fun! My relationship with my daughters is different in this season. I am definitely still their Mom, but the shift has changed and we are “women doing life together”. Our home was always filled with laughter, but now that you take out, “Did you practice the piano?” or “Is your homework done?”, we can enjoy each other’s company in a new way. We still love going on vacations together and holiday celebrations often take place in their homes – they even cook! I’ve continued cheering on one daughter running a half marathon and another completing a Warrior Dash. The fun may look different, but it will never end!
*Remember, adult children are still children. My girls were 21 and 23 when our family went through a divorce. I worked hard not to share parts of my hurt and pain with them. I remember saying something once to my youngest daughter and she replied, “Mom, that’s between you and Dad.” Immediately I caught myself and said, “You’re right! I’m sorry….thank you for saying something!” I was grateful she had learned to express healthy boundaries for herself. I kept that memory close to me through the rest of the divorce process and beyond. Some things are meant to stay between the parents only, even when your children become adults.
*Pray….often. My girls know that I daily thank God for the honor of being their Mom as I pray over them. They send me texts or emails when they have prayer requests. Praying for my daughters is a privilege that I never take for granted.
I know many of you have wonderful ideas on how to stay connected with your adult children. Please leave a comment below so I can glean from your experiences!