The Truth About Parenting Adult Children

As a child, I lived with my grandmother as a result of my mother's drug addiction. Knowing nothing about my father at the time, other than a name, when my grandmother passed away when I was only 14 years old, I was left at the mercy of whoever was kind enough to bestow their charity upon me, but that was always short-lived.

Between the ages of fourteen- seventeen, I didn't have a stable home. But right before my eighteenth birthday, my mother reached out to me. She was clean, had a job, a house, and wanted me to live with her. "FINALLY"! I thought to myself. However, I would quickly learn that was all a ploy to get her hands on the money my grandmother left in a trust for me, which I was due to receive when I turned eighteen. Once the money was gone, so was I. Moving in with a friend of my mother's, I worked, paid room & board, and did whatever I wanted to do. Not even a year later, I became a mother and was flat broke. As my child grew inside me, I experienced a love like no other, and I vowed NEVER to leave my child, harm my child, or choose a drug or man over my child.

Fast forward twenty-one years later, my mother is deceased, I've had three more children, am about to be a grandmother, and have learned some hard lessons. One of those lessons is, I don't know how to parent an adult child because I NEVER was an adult child. Two, you don't know what you'd do until it's in your face. And three, I'm sure you've heard this one before. Being a parent does not come with an instruction manual. So it's safe to say I've learned through trial and error. I've made plenty of mistakes in my parenting, been through hell and high water with my children. But this road I'm on now has been the most challenging of them all.

When my children were little, I longed for the day they were able to make their food, pick out their clothes, take showers and baths, and the day I could legally leave them home alone to run a few errands. It was told to me then that it gets worse when they get older. I thought, "how is that possible?" Well, I'm walking, living proof; that is the whole truth and nothing but the truth! As my children began to grow older, develop their own thoughts, opinions, taste, and can make their own decisions, I have to say; the worrying never goes away. One of my most significant tests is wanting them to be their best but have no control of the outcome.

Over the years, I've learned that it's best to LET GO! Trust the process and what you know you've taught them. But the truth is, it's easier said than done, mainly when circumstances contribute to the hardship of letting go. For me, the guilt of letting them down or disappointing them triggers my unhealed childhood trauma. But when I begin to heal my inner child, I release myself from constantly living in that state of guilt. That release requires me to have the wisdom to know not to put what I've experienced or how I responded to that experience on my child who doesn't share my story. It keeps me in a constant forethought to BE to my children who I needed when I was their age, faced with life's twists and turns.

The law says that your child is legal at the tender age of eighteen years old. However, think back to when you were eighteen; didn't you need guidance, support? Didn't you still need to be parented? Then why are we so quick to throw our children out into the wild without a lifeline? When parenting adult children, there's a shift that happens. You no longer tell them what to do; you suggest what you think is the best course of action and allow them to make the final decision; however, not without explaining that there will be built-in consequences whatever road they take. Parenting adult children turns into you warning, teaching, and allowing them to fail but being there when they do. Not enabling them, but to let them know that there is a lesson in it all and mistakes are there to help us grow. It's a lonely world out there, but when your foundation is cracked or non-existent, it can feel like an isolated desert.

My final test was to fully understand that allowing my children to fail or fumble is not neglect or abandonment. I trust that I have given them all the tools they need to survive and thrive,, but what tools they choose to use is up to them. What are some things you've learned with parenting adult children? Did you have a blueprint, or are you like me, learning through trial & error?

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