Holding Back the Ocean: Parenting Adult Children
[Editor's Note: I struggle to let go, to let my kids experience things on their own. I do it, because I know I have to for them to grow up to be functional adults. It made me feel a little better that even seasoned parents like Sharon at Empty House, Full Mind struggles with it -- but in a different, much harder way. This parenting thing never ends, does it? -Jenna]
I see this all around me, every day. I hear it from my friends – we all try to put some respectful distance between us and our adult children. We hold back, usually… sometimes…as often as we can, wanting to let our kids make their own choices and, also, their own mistakes. These choices and mistakes are so much bigger than when they were small – unlike forgetting to turn in their homework, some decisions as an adult can be life-changing – marriage, jobs, having children. Watching them figure these things out without wanting to tell them what to do is as difficult as it was letting them first walk to school without us when they were small, or watching them drive off solo when they first got their licenses. It’s like holding back the tide of an internal ocean.
Yet this letting go, this distancing ourselves from them is part of how they become independent of us – perhaps the most difficult part of parenting of all.