I understand that sometimes we long for the freedom to do what we want, without kids. But it’s not like there’s an actual end date for parenting. That’s not the goal.
Stop saying that parenting ends when the child is eighteen.
Sure, we joke that the kids will get their very own luggage set on their 18th birthday. They should work or go to college or training. They won’t be able to just loaf around, doing nothing productive, mooching off us.
Joking like this is abusive.
Parenting doesn’t just end.
Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.― Toni Morrison, Beloved
The parent-child relationship should change – gradually through the teen years – through to adulthood. We as parents should offer more freedom and responsibility in a safety net environment, teaching and coaching until the child is mature enough to fly on her own.
Parenting young adults is challenging.
And then we have to let go.
Sure, our children will fail sometimes. They will learn from those mistakes. And we can pray they don’t do anything too stupid that they can’t easily recover from. They must learn how to apologize and make amends.
But the nest should always be available for periods of rest and restoration.
Love should be an open door.
We as parents should be available as guides and coaches to our young adult children. Most kids don’t complete their brain development until around age 25.
How many of us were ready to be adults at age eighteen? How many of us were responsible and mature? Yet we expect so much of our kids in this scary, changing world we live in. It’s too much.
I stumbled and fell, with scraped knees and hemorrhaging heart, too many times until I reached “maturity.” And I still fail and struggle as a wife and mom.
Discipling children is a huge responsibility. It is exhausting.
Dragging four kids to the grocery store on a busy afternoon or on a 6-hour road trip isn’t really my idea of fun and relaxation. I do it to teach them and give them (hopefully) fond memories of a life well lived and well traveled.
Some days, when they argue with each other or complain about the dinner I worked so hard on, I want to give up.
Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.
Love never fails!1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love never ends.
I get too easily discouraged by wet towels on the floor and the never-ending crumbs under the table.
Some days, I do imagine an empty nest, the freedom it will surely bring when I can sleep in, eat a hot breakfast without having to share, go to the bathroom alone…
When I can look back on these days, reminiscing the bittersweet victories and failings while struggling not to be a selfish mom. Self-care is always a struggle.
As the children grow into tweens, teens, young adults and need me less and less, I get a glimpse into what our future as friends might look like.
Parenting never ends.
- Doing Life with Your Adult Children by Jim Burns
- Parenting Your Emerging Adult: Launching Kids From 18 to 29 by Varda Konstam
- Recovering My Kid: Parenting Young Adults in Treatment and Beyond by Joseph Lee
- How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
- Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind by Brenda Yoder
- 18 Plus: Parenting Your Emerging Adult by Stephen Argue
- Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke
- The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
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