parenting: the need to let go
The artificially prolonged adolescence in these United States has a negative effect upon parents. For some parents, coming to terms with the reality that their grown children are adults and no longer children is very difficult. We are talking here about adult children who are out of their parents home, and are living their own lives independent of their parents.
Parents, your grown children are going to live their lives as they choose to do so. They may likely not live or order their adult lives as you lived yours, or how you would have them live their adult lives. You may not like this, but that is the reality.
A question for parents is this: Are you raising, or attempting to raise, up your children to be independent adults, or not? If so, do not expect your grown up children to submit their decisions and actions to your scrutiny for your approval. You may not approve of how your grown children are living their lives, but they have the right and the responsiblity to make their own decisions, and are free to make their own good decisions and their own (costly) mistakes.
The approach too many parents take is to interfere in their grown children’s lives. Albeit arising from good intentions, such interference causes much unnecessary friction and ill will in the relationships with their children, and creates stresses in their grown children’s marriages. (As well, the spouse that puts mommy and daddy ahead of their husband or wife is asking for marital problems, and if not corrected, possible marriage failure.)
If your grown children come to you for advice and counsel, then offer appropriate and constructive advice and counsel. But, beware of falling into the trap of always giving criticism. There really is no pleasing some parents.* Adult children need remember that their lives are their own and they are no longer children in their parents’ home.
* For example, parents often make the mistake of expecting or demanding too much from their children. When your child returns home from school with an 85 out of 100 correct on his/her exam, do not berate him or her for not having gotten a higher score. Rather give him/her positive reinforcement for a good, solid score of 85. Do not be like the clowns who conduct job interviews and look for any imperfection (however small or trivial) to disqualify a candidate from the selection process. (They do that to let themselves off the hook as most interviewers are not good at evaluating and selecting candidates for jobs. After 30 years in the business world, what I have seen firsthand confirms this statement.) This perfectionist approach in this country has not served us very well.
I had to endure parents who did not know when to let go. Even though my siblings and I are all into our 50s and 60s now, mommy and daddy cannot quit playing the role of teacher, or really arbiter over their grown children’s lives. As this attitude of theirs shows they do not respect their grown children as adults, on many occasions, I have reminded my parents that my soul did not come from their loins.
It is unfortunate that not a few parents cling to very rigid thinking as a crutch to get through their lives. Making very rigid thinking into a virtue serves to limit and narrow one’s perspective, and can keep one from growing in understanding.
For the interested reader, here is a link to an earlier, related essay.
Thanks for reading.