The phrase “adult children” is an oxymoron: the words adult and children clearly describe very different things, and it’s impossible to be an adult and a child at the same time.
Except it’s not. Most of us are adult children; Jen is 47 and a bona fide adult, but she’s also still the child of Al & Pat Wondra. She’s also the parent of at least one adult child, a 22 year old who’s been living independently for 4 years.
Of course, the parent/child relationship changes as children grow into adults –– and that transition can be fraught and confusing for both parents and children.
“Our kids grow and change, and so do we as parents,” Janet says. Supporting our emerging adults’ ambitions isn’t always easy. Sometimes, their goals — to move far away, for instance — conflict with our personal preferences. Sometimes, we’re genuinely concerned for our grown kids’ well-being because our years of living have alerted us to dangers our children haven’t yet encountered. It’s not easy to thread the needle between support and protection.
“I’ve had to step aside and quietly support the choices my children have made,” Janet says — including her daughter’s decision to spend 6 months in Europe as a high school junior and, later, 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in western Africa. “The adjustment I’ve had to make in myself and my children have been huge. It’s gut-wrenching sometimes.”
It all comes down to love
“We love our kids so much,” Janet says. “We want the best for them, and meanwhile we have to nurture that little crack in our hearts.”
In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss:
- Acknowledging the many emotions we experience as our children grow
- Adjusting to reality
- Navigating our aging process alongside our kids’ (Menopause + puberty!)
- The lack of support for parents of adult children
- Finding friendship with your children
- Handling our feelings of grief and loss
- The importance of staying connected to your own interests
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys — the BuildingBoys blog post Jen mentions at 13:13
On Graduation & Growing — BuildingBoys blog post
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