In her presentation for Catholic Conference 4 Women’s “Relationships” series, Susan Vogt offers tips to parents whose adult children are out of college and beginning independent lives. At this point in our parenting, we need to redefine our roles.
Susan recommends that in our new roles as parents of young adults, we develop four attitudes:
- Mindfulness of words
All of these are useful to parents, no matter what age our children are, but they are part of a new challenge for parents whose children have “grown and flown.”
We’re not supposed to be functioning in an advisory capacity with our independent adult children–and that’s a difficult shift for us as parents, as we’re used to taking the lead in guiding our children on their paths through life.
Instead of advising our grown children, we’re encouraged to share our struggles instead. Certainly if we are directly asked for advice, we should give it, but we shouldn’t offer that advice if it’s not requested.
Now it’s time for us to step back; Susan reminds us that the best way to help our adult children is to allow them to face the consequences of their own actions.
That’s a parenting strategy that’s as true for the 3-year-old as it is for the 23- or 33-year-old. It doesn’t help our children if we continually “rescue” them.
Perhaps the most difficult lesson we need to learn as parents is that our children’s success or failure is not a reflection on us. The choices our children make are their own, not ours. While they may make decisions and follow paths that are painful to us, we need to sacrifice our temptation to control their lives and their decisions, as well as our tendency to consider their decisions in terms of how they will make us look.
As the parent of one young adult who has been out on his own for well over two years and another who is almost finished college, I find the biggest challenge to be that last: remembering that their decisions–and the consequences of those decisions–are not mine to own and are not there to make me look like a good or bad mom.
(Regarding unsolicited advice: I’m usually pretty good about that, though I can’t help myself when it comes to cooking tips and my irrational need to rearrange the dishwasher when someone else has loaded it.)
Susan Vogt’s presentation is geared toward parents whose children are out of college and out of the house, but I found the information applicable to the way I should be parenting my college student–and worth keeping under consideration as I shepherd my youngest through his high-school years.
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS