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Adult children: Should parenting really stop?

14th December 2011
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Many parents find it very difficult to accept the fact that their children have grown into adults. They can’t really let. They feel they should monitor and influence every decision that their child has forgetting that they need to let go.

Of course, not all adults act like adults; so many parents are faced with many on-going parenting issues that extend well beyond that 18th birthday. However, I still feel that as parents you should let go.

You should leave that irresponsible adult child to face the consequences of his/her actions. That way the child will learn. You cannot keep on overprotecting him/her.

Your adult child is exactly that - an adult. You were an adult child of someone once, and I’ll bet you can put yourself back in that frame of mind for a moment. Do you think there were probably times your parents wished they could just shake you and make you straighten up?

Do you think they really knew that you were making some stupid or ill-informed choices during those early adult years? Yes, they probably did.

Do you think if they treated you like you were incompetent and childish that you would have listened even more closely to their ideas and advice? No, and you know that from experience. Keep this in mind when you watch how your “little girl” or “little man” handles their own life.

No one really wants to be mommy or papa’s baby. An adult child has every right to make his/her own decisions, regardless of how unusual they are. You might be the mother or father but there are times when you should be content to be just a passive observer of your child’s life. (most parents are definitely not there yet.)

It’s great to ask questions to promote your child to share with you. When your child feels like it’s safe to call you without getting twenty questions, you can foster a good relationship and probably promote future phone calls.

If you start getting too intrusive or take a patronizing tone, you risk getting flicked away like a fly. (sounds familiar?) I’m pretty sure we have all walked this road either as parents or as young adults.

The best you can do is keep your mouth shut and listen. Once you get your child talking, shut your mouth! Things don’t work the same way as when your child was little. You told them things and they listened. Now it’s your turn to switch on your ears. You can learn a lot by taking a more soft touch to your conversational style.

I have noticed that most parents have problems with their adult children after they get married. This starts with the choice of spouse.

If they do not approve of the spouse, they feel disrespected and greatly troubled. In most cases their reaction would be; “what the hell were you thinking?” Of course, they do not say that out loud, but the message is effectively transmitted in one subtle form or another.

I believe parents have a few options. They can embrace their new daughter-in-law and accept this marriage as a blessed union made in Heaven. (Most of us parents are definitely not there yet). They love their son and know that failure to honor this relationship may distance him from his family. They can step back, throw up their hands, and start making their private predictions.

Or, they can embrace their roles as perpetual parents and continue to share their honest concerns, even though there is nothing they can do about it. (Risky, but more likely to happen.)

Why am I talking about sons here instead of daughters? Its because in most cases parents find it easier to let go their daughter than they would with their son. It looks like they are competing for space with the daughter in law when it comes to their son. The ones guilty of this are mothers and I pray I won’t be like that seeing I only have buy children.

Most parents fail to understand that the only way to their son or daughter’s heart is through accepting the family that he or she has.

As parents, we fail to appreciate one thing which is, we have lived our own lives the way we wanted, the same should go for our children.

Let them choose careers and spouses that they love because at the end of the day it’s going to be their career and their spouse not ours. The earlier we learn to appreciate this, the better.

Agreed, they are our children but the stubborn fact is that they are now adults and they deserve to be treated so. They should make their own choices which might be wrong at times but let them shoulder the responsibility of their choices. Let them learn from their mistakes instead of trying to prevent them from making any single mistakes.

Those mistakes will make them grow and become stronger. Be there to guide them and offer advice when necessary but do not overdo it. Do not force the advice down their throats as if it were some kind of medicine.

(Easier said than done)

msimbiso@gmail.com

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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