Friday, July 11, 2008

Support Group for Parents of Adult Children

Okay, so I have been talking to numerous people whose children are 18 or older. Whether they are 18 or 48, parents of these children spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out how to have a parent/child relationship with children, who aren't children. New parents of those cute adorable little babies are told that children do not come with an instruction manual and you will mess up from time to time. Overall, however, this does not generally do any kind of long-lasting, permanent damage to our children.

As the children get older, my general advice is "children are a gift of God. Repeat as necessary." When they are teenagers and the throes of burgeoning independence consumes a good deal of energy, there is still territory that is familiar because you and your child have grown together.

However, I am finding, with myself and my friends who have adult children, parenting, or rather non-parenting, gets tougher. You have been charged with raising these children from the total dependence of an infant to a completely self-sufficient adult-ish person.

Some parents have adult children who claim to want to be "independent" and yet totally rely on their parents to take care of them. These poor put upon parents are expected to do everything from their laundry to paying their bills. In this case, the importance of setting boundaries comes into play. Children should be given their independence and this involves taking responsibilities. Of course, there is nothing against parents helping out their children if it does not become a relationship of co-dependence.

Other parents have children who tend to learn life lessons the hard way. You want to help and can't. You still have a perspective of experience and, well....worldly knowledge, and you tend to see all the pitfalls and other traps life tends to spring on you. Yet, you cannot say anything. This is a totally frustrating place to be. You can see, maybe not with any clairvoyant accuracy, but you can see down the road ahead of them in ways they cannot. Yet, the most you can do is try to ask them pertinent questions to try to get them to see these obstacles for themselves.

The truth is, there is no instruction manual for infants, and there is certainly no instruction manual for adult children. The Bible tells us if we raise our children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. It says nothing about early adulthood. I have found praying is the best way. I feel better when I pray for my children, because I know that as much as I love them and want the best for them, God loves them and wants them to have life abundant even more than I do.

I guess for all you parents of adult children out there, this is what has worked for me. Even when it doesn't seem to be working, and I cannot figure out what to do, it offers me comfort. I hate that my children have to make mistakes to learn things, but of course, I did and God brought me through, so I can trust them to God.

How are you coping as a parent of an adult child?

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