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What Do Adult Children Need?

theend

What do they want from me? Sometimes our youngest will gush about how cool someone’s mom is, or how much money somebody’s parents spend on a friend’s wardrobe and I can start to feel anxious about the way I am viewed by our daughter and her friends. If I’m not really careful, I can feel like a failure because we don’t go on fabulous cruises with our kids or know all the latest jargon. This past week my daughter was very amused at my complete inability to take a selfie and at the fact that my phone is always at less than 10% charged. Always.

What do my adult children need from me at this point in life? Obviously, they are very capable in most arenas; they can get themselves from place to place, cook their own meals and hold down jobs while attending school. They have relationships with each other and with other people without needing me to referee, and each can stand up for themselves without needing my approval or permission.

So as I am quickly working my way out of a job, what is my role at this point? It has taken me some time to answer the question, but I think I have it now. My job is to remain consistent. Whenever possible, I need to be accessible to my children, available to answer the many questions that are asked about establishing credit, how health insurance works and if a check is written today, do I still have money in my account? I need to be consistent in my values, so when my young adults are questioning their own, they know they can rely on their parents to be true to what we have taught them. I need to be consistently open to new ideas and perspectives, so our children know they can voice theirs to me and not be shut down or judged harshly. My children need me to be their biggest cheerleader, ready to throw a big party in their honor. And I need to consistently love my brood, whether they disappoint, frustrate or thrill me, they need to be able to rely on the fact that their mother is crazy about them, no matter what.

I may not be everything that my children would like, but I can say that I work hard to continue to be what they need. In my opinion, it’s cool to be consistent.

 

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Step Up to the Cliff

cliffLast year our oldest daughter was a couple of months from graduating from high school and she was ready to get on with life. Plans were set in motion for college, deposits had been made and we were shopping for dorm supplies when an opportunity arose. A family friend knew of a couple traveling to Africa over the summer, planning to stay for six weeks or so, would our daughter like to join them?

Jessica has been planning a future in Africa for quite some time. Anyone who spends much time with her knows this is her passion; she believes she was created to hold and love vulnerable babies far from home. When we have talked about it, we mostly have said that after college she will pursue her dream/calling, and that perhaps she will take a trip there during her college years.

The offer of going earlier seemed like God’s will. She had been praying about the trip and it presented itself. She had the money saved (since she was 14!) to be able to afford it. They would be in the region she feels called to. We sat down with our tender-hearted daughter and asked a lot of questions. I desperately wanted to tell her she wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready for her to be gone so far away for so long. But I didn’t. Instead we walked with her right up to the edge of that cliff and talked long about what it looked like below.

We knew that telling our brave girl what to do would not help her in the future, so we waited as we prayed for her to make the best decision. Within a couple of days, Jess came to us and said that as much as she wanted to go, she didn’t feel that this was the right time. She was concerned that if she went away before experiencing college, she might never go to school.

I am so proud of our daughter, not because she chose what I wanted for her, but because she chose what was best for her at the time. The fact that she was so mature in her decision making, putting off what she wanted for what she felt was best, assured me that she is indeed ready whenever God tells her it’s time to go.

I think it’s important to be willing to walk with people up to the cliff of their dreams, and talk with them about the decisions they are making, taking them seriously and believing in them the whole way. Then it is our job to hold them tight before sending them off to do the work God has created them to do.

 

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